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How Did Salamanders Migrate from North America to Korea?

Salamanders are not particularly thought of as world travelers.  A new species of lungless salamander of the family Plethodontidae has been found in Korea.  Almost all previous members were found only in North America.  To EurekAlert, reporting on a paper published in Nature,1 this is comparable to “discovering pandas in California or kangaroos in Argentina.”  […]

Giant Carnivorous Amphibians Found in African Fossil Deposit

Meat-eating amphibians shaped like crocodiles?  Be glad you didn’t live in West Africa 250 million years ago, say scientists at McGill University.  Two species were described, one with large and small fang-like teeth, and another with curved horns on the back of its head. The fossils didn’t come with dates on them, and since amphibian […]

Butterflies Really Know How to Fly

The path of a butterfly may appear haphazard to us, but there is a method to the fluttering.  A UK team of scientists put transponders on butterflies and monitored their flight paths.  They found that the looping paths appear to help with orientation and food detection.  The rest of the time, they flew straight at […]

Go to the Roach, Thou Robotics Designer

Most of us can’t step on them fast enough, but of cockroaches, engineers at Johns Hopkins say “the pesky critters are excellent role models” – for robotics.  Classroom exercises include building obstacle courses for cockroaches and observing how they use their antennae to navigate, even in the dark.  Said one student, experienced in trying to […]

“Evolution Stories Are Subtle and Complex” – Truth or Euphemism?

A worm brain has photoreceptors similar to those in humans.  What does it mean?  Elizabeth Pennisi in Science1 sets the stage, commenting on work by Arendt et al. in the same issue,2 “Ciliary Photoreceptors with a Vertebrate-Type Opsin in an Invertebrate Brain.”  One might think this demonstrates common ancestry, but Pennisi explains that it’s not […]

Darwinian Just-So Story Criticized

When Young and Brodie & son published their article “How the Horned Lizard Got its Horns,” (see 04/01/2004 headline), they apparently meant it as a bit of April-fool joke, not a real Kipling-style just-so story.  Several respondents in the Sept 24 issue of Science,1 however, either didn’t think it was funny or concluded the story […]

Termites: If You Can’t Lick ’Em, Mimic ’Em

Termites, despite their bad rap, have something to teach human homebuilders.  Their mounds are self-sufficient, air-conditioned, environmentally friendly and cheap to run, according to a story in EurekAlert.  “The mounds incorporate a complicated network of tunnels and air conduits designed to channel air flow for the control of internal air quality, temperature and moisture levels.” […]

Take Out the Garbage?  No– Feed the Worms

Every kitchen needs one, says National Geographic News: a popular new device that turns garbage into fertilizer.  What is it?  A new high-tech electronic machine?  No, something more ancient: a worm bin.  Modern homes are finding old benefits in vermiculture, the art of composting garbage into plant food via worms and bacteria.  A small bin […]

Salamander Genes Give Darwinists a Wake-Up Call

A press release from UC Berkeley says that the evolutionary family tree of salamanders, once thought secure, has been turned topsy-turvy by a study of the genes.  The opening paragraph is reminiscent of an irritating alarm clock going off in a comfy bedroom: Biologists take for granted that the limbs and branches of the tree […]

Dragonfly Inspires Hi-Tech Hovercraft for Mars

Exclusive  Dragonflies possess not only compound eyes like other insects, but additional “simple” eyes called ocelli (sing., ocellum) with full-field retinas like mammalian eyes.  These function as a “horizon sensor/attitude reference system,” according to an engineer trying to copy it.  In an engineering project supported by the military and aerospace, Dr. Jaavan Chahla and an […]

Cambrian Explosion Explained, or Explained Away?

James Valentine, an authority on early fossils, has just published a new 600-page book on the Cambrian explosion with the Darwinesque title, On the Origin of Phyla (U. of Chicago Press, 2004).  Stefan Bengtson (Swedish Museum of Natural History) reviewed it in the July 29 issue of Nature.1  He points out that “Darwin wisely called […]

Angry Evolutionist Seeks to Revive Peppered Moth Story

Michael Majerus has had it with creationists who leaped onto his 1998 book and used it for ammunition against Darwinism.  He had confessed that the simplified textbook story of the peppered moth was inaccurate, but he never meant to cast doubt on evolution.  Majerus (U. of Cambridge) is highlighted in a profile in the June […]

Spiderman No Match for Real Spider

National Geographic News took the occasion of the upcoming Spiderman sequel to investigate the superpowers of real spiders.  If you were spidy, you could: Jump 50 times your body length.  That would be like a man jumping 300 feet (the world record is 29 feet, 4.5 inches). Walk upside down on smooth surfaces, with 170 […]

Fruit Flies Fail to Exhibit Neo-Darwinism

The Neo-Darwinian Synthesis is the current reigning paradigm of Darwinian evolution.  It teaches that random genetic mutations provide the raw material of variation, and that natural selection acting on these variations produces all the complexity of life.  A corollary is that mutation is independent of selection; i.e., that mutations do not “conspire” with natural selection […]

Search for Evolutionary Trade-Offs Comes Up Empty

Husbands and wives know a lot about trade-offs, but according to Darwinian theory, all living things are in a constant tug-of-war between competing interests.  In evolutionary terms, a trade-off is a compromise between competing forces of natural selection.  For instance, “Simultaneously obtaining enough food to grow and reproduce while trying not to become someone else’s […]
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