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Nanofabrication Imitates Shells, Butterflies

A new plastic “strong as steel” has been manufactured according to the specs in seashells, reported PhysOrg.  “By mimicking a brick-and-mortar molecular structure found in seashells, University of Michigan researchers created a composite plastic that’s as strong as steel but lighter and transparent.”  (See these previous entries about how marine organisms manufacture their shells: 06/26/2003, […]

New Atomizer Mimics Bombardier Beetle

There’s a new technology coming to market, thanks to a little bug.  The bombardier beetle has long been used by creationists as a creature with a weapon against evolutionary theory.  Its tightly-integrated combustion apparatus would be useless or dangerous to the beetle unless all the parts worked together from the start.  This, creationists argue, is […]

Bacteria and Plants Know Network Tech

An article on Science Daily says, “plants have their own chat systems that they can use to warn each other.”  Many herbal plants such as strawberry, clover, reed and ground elder naturally form networks.  Individual plants remain connected with each other for a certain period of time by means of runners.  These connections enable the […]

Thermodynamics: The Real Theory of Everything

Need a theory of everything?  Try thermodynamics.  Mark Haw reviewed a new book by Peter Atkins on the subject in Nature,1 Four Laws that Drive the Universe (Oxford, 2007).  He had high praise for the achievements of the “19th century grandees” Joule, Maxwell and Kelvin: Thermodynamics ought to be the cornerstone of any scientist’s understanding […]

Early Beetle Was Armed

According to Live Science, a beetle preserved in amber, dated at 100 million years old, was caught in the act of using chemical warfare.  “Soldier beetles” capable of this kind of advanced defense system were not thought to have evolved till 60 million years later.     This article contains several statements worthy of the […]

Was Velociraptor a Dragon?

As if Velociraptor, the terror of Jurassic Park, was not scary enough, some scientists are now saying it was feathered.  (This, of course, does not imply it could fly after its human prey like some movie dragon.)  The latest claim in Science is based on the apparent presence of “quill knobs” on the radius bone […]

Early Reptile Had Modern Ears

Modern ears are nothing new; they go back 260 million years.  That’s the gist of a paper in PLoS ONE that reported on a Russian reptile fossil.1  The research team was surprised to discover that the creature had impedance-matched ears, a novelty thought to have evolved 50 million years later.  Somehow this innovation survived one […]

New World Record for Winged Migration

The BBC News reports that a female bar-tailed godwit flew 11,500km (almost 7200 mi) nonstop from Alaska to New Zealand.  The journey took about a week.  Observers at Massey University used electronic tags to catalog the birds’ flight.     This distance is nearly double what ornithologists used to consider an “extremely long” flight.  This […]

Dinosaurs Stretched, Shrunk and Twisted Into Birds

Size matters, thought paleontologists envisioning the evolution of birds from dinosaurs.  The old story was that dinosaurs shrunk as their arms were becoming wings.  That view has been challenged by a new fossil reported in Science.1  Alan H. Turner (American Museum of Natural History) and four others reported a “basal dromeosaurid” that was small long […]

Whale Sonar: Necessity Is the Mother of Invention

Biosonar is a complex ability possessed by toothed whales and dolphins, bats and some birds.  It includes both the ability to produce signals and to process the echoes to locate prey.  How could such a system evolve?  Scientists at UC Berkeley proposed an answer.  The press release promised a developing story: Behind the sailor’s lore […]

Birds Eat Dark Moths, Therefore God Does Not Exist

Michael Majerus watched birds eat peppered moths from his window for seven years (06/25/2004), then drew his conclusions.  In a presentation to a science conference in Uppsala, Sweden on August 23, he said that the peppered moth story proves evolution, which means there is no supernatural being to save us, there is no second coming, […]

Evolution Takes Credit

It may be more blessed to give than to receive, but evolution often just takes.  The following news stories show evolution taking credit for a variety of phenomena when it is not quite clear how it earned it. Big insects:  Scientists at Argonne National Laboratory surmised that insects were larger in the past because there […]

Fossil Gorilla Forces Hominid Ancestor Earlier

A set of gorilla teeth found in Ethiopia pushes the evolutionary story of a split between apes and humans back almost twice as far as previously thought.  Nature reported the fossil announcement that estimated the date of the teeth as 10.5-11 million years old.1  The prior estimate for a human-ape divergence was about 6 million. […]

Two Ways to Look at a Fin

Two science articles this month showed very different ways to look at a fish fin.  One looked for evolution; the other looked for design.  One tried to trace an evolutionary story with no practical application; the other tried to find ways to improve our lives.     The evolutionary story involved a fossil coelacanth.  Science […]

Crows Use Tools on Tools

Crows can use one tool on another to get food.  A report in Science Daily says they appear to use analogical reasoning, not just trial and error, to figure out how to manipulate objects.  They used a short stick to get a longer stick out of a toolbox in order to reach a snack too […]
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