Animals Have Biological GPS
April 30, 2012
Global Positioning System (GPS): that's a function. Maintaining a suite of satellites is one method for achieving the function. But there are other ways to figure out where in the world you are, and two very different animals show the way – naturally – using Earth's global magnetic field.
How the Tiger Got Its Stripes: Dunno
April 28, 2012
A leading hypothesis for morphogenesis (pattern formation, such as tiger stripes) has been shown to be oversimplified. Whatever gave a tiger its stripes is more complicated than developmental biologists thought.
Questioning the Dino-Bird Hypothesis
April 27, 2012
The scientific consensus has pretty much declared it a fact of natural history that birds evolved from dinosaurs. One evolutionary professor remains a gadfly, though. He contests the evidence on which the hypothesis is based, and also believes his maverick position is growing.
Paradigm Shift: Impact Didn't Kill Dinosaurs
April 24, 2012
A new study casts doubt on whether asteroid impacts led to extinctions. It's based on re-interpreting geological evidence used to identify impacts. This finding, if sustained, would undermine the theory that an impact killed off the dinosaurs and a later impact led to the extinction of many large mammals. Even more significant, an overturn of the impact hypothesis would illustrate that scientists are capable of going off on wrong tangents for decades.
From Wonders of Nature to Wonders of Technology
April 22, 2012
Living things have solved physics problems like design engineers. Inventors are just now catching on to their tricks in ways that could improve our technology, weaning us off our crude, polluting past and ushering in advanced technology that is not only greener but more effective. The latest stars are two insects and a bacterium.
Cambrian Explosion: Sedimentary, My Dear Flotsam
April 20, 2012
"Then something happened." Question: are you reading a science article, or a fictional screenplay? Are you in the Science Department or the Humanities Department? Are you in the lab or the theater? Find out in today's episode of "Explain the Cambrian Explosion."
Is This Plant Really 30,000 Years Old?
February 20, 2012
A plant said to be 30,000 years old has been brought to life in Russia. A team resurrected a fruit from a rodent burrow in Siberian permafrost, getting it to grow into a whole plant that produces viable seeds. This is now the oldest age claim, by an order of magnitude, for plant material made to live again. Other scientists are startled that plant material could remain viable for so long, since cells have to repair their DNA continually. Other botany news bring different problems to evolutionary theory.
Small Animals Show Even More Design
February 17, 2012
Your smart phone is a triumph of miniaturization. The first computers were room-filling monstrosities; now, you can hold more computing power than a Univac in the palm of your hand. In the living world, we should't despise small creatures. They can pack a lot of technology into a small space. Here are some record-setting examples of living miniatures reported recently.
Dinosaurs Display Death in Watery Grave
February 16, 2012
Many dinosaur fossils show the animals with neck arched backward. This appearance is so common, it has been dubbed the "dinosaur death pose." Various theories have been invoked to explain it: dessication and final death throes among the most common. A study with chickens shows the arching neck is the automatic response of immersion in water.
Fish Came from the Land
February 13, 2012
If you were taught fish evolved in the ocean, think again. There's a new idea that most fish evolved on land.
Humans Evolved from Dogs
February 10, 2012
A new finding shows dogs performing better on one kind of intelligence test than chimpanzees. If evolution teaches that human intelligence is the main trait separating us from other animals, and dogs are smarter than apes, shouldn’t the conclusion be that dogs are closer on the family tree? If not, is it valid for evolutionary biologists to pick and choose the traits that matter?
Innovation as a Dodge
February 7, 2012
This is not a truck commercial. It’s not about a Dodge as an innovation, but innovation as a dodge. It’s about how a word, innovation, is used as a euphemism in evolution articles. The word seems to mean, “we have no clue how this evolved, but it must have for evolution to be true.” It’s a handy rhetorical trick, because without it, a reader might be tempted to think the evidence supports creation. Some recent articles show how the trick is employed.
February 4, 2012
Parasitism is bad. Parasitism is evil. Parasites wage war against innocent hosts. This is our mindset. What if parasites can do good? This change of heart seems to be happening for one case, the case of transposable genetic elements. If they are only doing harm to the host, why did some biologists find that “positive selection” seems to be maintaining them? That makes it sound like the cells need them.
Mouse to Elephant? Just Add Time
January 30, 2012
How do you evolve a mouse into an elephant? Just add 24 million generations. But you can shrink it back down in just 100,000 generations. This and other eyebrow-raising stories have been told in the secular science media recently.
Turning an Unevolved Horseshoe Crab Into a Darwin Showpiece
January 26, 2012
Horseshoe crabs are survivors by anyone’s measure; they have carried on their lives virtually unchanged, according to the standard evolutionary timeline, for 450 million years. This not only points to incredible stasis against alleged forces of evolution; it also means they have survived at least three global extinctions that evolutionary biologists and geologists say wiped out most other species. Not only that, the world has changed drastically since they allegedly evolved from who-knows-what arthropod ancestors – perhaps trilobites, that appeared in the Cambrian Explosion without ancestors. But the numerous, successful trilobites did not survive the global extinctions. Given these contradictory facts, how can the horseshoe crab possibly be an exhibit for evolution? A recent article shows how.