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Life Is Smarter Than We Know

How can toads calculate?  How can cells without a brain or central nervous system figure out a balanced diet?  How can bugs navigate the wind for optimum flight time?  These are some of the questions that can arise from observations of the living world.  The more we learn about life, the more we find unexpected […]

For His Birthday, Darwin Gets a Scrambled Arthropod Tree

If Darwin lost his tree last year (01/22/2009), it would seem any corrections or rearrangements would be academic.  Nevertheless, eight evolutionary biologists at Duke University tried rearranging one of the biggest branches on Darwin’s tree of common ancestry – the highly diverse group known as arthropods (animals with jointed appendages).  Arthropods comprise the largest number […]

More Surprises for Darwin

It’s not uncommon for theories to have to deal with anomalies, but Darwinism sure seems to get more than its share.  Here are some recent examples. Fossils lie:  Fossils preserve unmistakable clues about past life, right?  Not so fast.  Nature reported that “Non-random decay of chordate characters causes bias in fossil interpretation.”1  The way early […]

Life Masters Physics

Living things, especially cells, have mastered the forces of advanced physics in ingenious ways.  This ingenuity sometimes inspires physicists to try to copy it.  Here are some recent examples: Photosynthesis and quantum mechanics:  Nature reported that plants take advantage of quantum mechanics in photosynthesis.1  “The photosynthetic apparatus of cryptophyte algae is odd – its pigments […]

Dinosaurs Evolved from Birds

Birds evolved from dinosaurs, we are often told.  That’s backwards, reply some scientists at Oregon State University.  According to PhysOrg, the recently-published bi-plane model study of Microraptor gui (01/29/2010) demonstrates that theropod dinosaurs did not sprout wings and fly; instead, they became flightless after their bird ancestors came down from the trees.     Their […]

Incredible Preservation of Beetle Wings Found

Beetle wings with their original shimmering luster have been found preserved in fossilized peat in Japan.  The strata in which they were found have been labeled middle Pleistocene and dated at 600,000 years old.  Yet these same wings, when dried in the sun, lose their luster within hours.     The authors of the paper […]

Spider Webs Are Precision Dew Collectors

Photographs of dew drops on spider webs are favorite targets for nature photographers, because they resemble strings of pearls on fine jewelry (example 1, example 2).  But did you know the reason dewdrops bead up so well on webs is due to the fine microstructure of the spider silk?  A team of Chinese scientists studied […]

Scientists Divine Deep Time in Dead Fish

Scientific experiments can certainly take on a wide variety of methods, from recreating the atmosphere of Titan to testing a drug on a genetic disease.  But if educators want to encourage students to become scientists, they had best keep silent about “some very unpleasant experiments” at the University of Leicester reported by the BBC News.  […]

Incredible Creatures that Support Evolution?

Paleontologists and biologists continue to uncover animals past and present that exhibit amazing diversity. Some of them are so weird and unexpected, they are almost unbelievable. Usually, the news media are quick to tally up points for Darwin by explaining to lay people how they shed light on evolution. But in the “discovery” stage of […]

Convergence: Explanation or Rescue Device?

The news media are telling us that bats and dolphins both hit on the same genetic pathway to evolve echolocation – even though they are on vastly different evolutionary lineages and use echolocation differently (one in air, one in water).  Since it is inconceivable that a putative shrew-like common ancestor of these very different animals […]

Chimps Produce Movie

The BBC is going to air a movie made by chimpanzees.  (Note: This is not a Planet of the Apes remake.)  A primatologist working on her PhD gave some chimps at the Edinburgh zoo a “Chimpcam,” a camcorder in a “chimp-proof” box, to see what they would come up with.  “Despite the fact that the […]

Evolutionary Biogeography Requires Imagination

Biogeography – the study of the distribution of species – has been an important part of evolutionary theory, and has often been used as evidence for evolution.  Some recent findings about plants and animals should give scientists caution about trying to divine too much evolutionary history from locations of present-day organisms and fossils.     […]

Dogs for Darwin

Science Daily shamelessly announced, “‘Survival of the Cutest’ Proves Darwin Right.”     Chris Klingenberg and Abby Drake, who published a study on mammal skull shapes in American Naturalist on dog breeds, said, “This study illustrates the power of Darwinian selection with so much variation produced in such a short period of time.  The evidence […]

Specious Theories Obey the Law of Inertia

Last March, scientists publishing in Geology falsified the so-called “Permian Extinction,” calling it a “non-event.” (see 03/09/2009).  Not only was there no smoking gun of a catastrophe in the rocks, the scientists said that the “claims of rapid vertebrate recovery… also must be called into question.”  Our commentary at the time wondered how long it […]

Arctic Tern Maintains World Record Title

The arctic tern makes a marathoner look like a wimp.  This little bird has been confirmed as the migratory bird with the longest route, flying annually from pole to pole.  A team of international scientists obtained the results by using an implanted geolocator on several birds, and tracking their actual path.  The story is told […]
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