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It’s a Long (Roundabout) Way from Amphioxus

“Every solution breeds new problems” laments a Murphyism, and Henry Gee feels the pain.  In Nature this week,1 he delved into the growing quandary about where to put the common ancestor of starfish, sea squirts and chordates, including the vertebrates and us human beings.  His challenge is to prove the idiot’s sanity: So, if lancelets […]

Evolutionists Tackle Cambrian Explosion

You have to give credit to anyone who tackles a big problem head-on, regardless of whether you agree with their solution.  Two recent papers take on one of evolution’s biggest challenges: the Cambrian Explosion.  Assuming the evolutionary timeline, this represents a “brief” 5 million year period back 530 million years ago when most of the […]

Human Evolution: Clear as Mud

Evolutionists speak of our descent from apes with an air of confidence and certainty, but connecting the dots requires a bit of artistic license.  Here are some examples of how any data, no matter how puzzling, can be made to fit the Darwinian picture. Stretchy Clocks:  A famous painting by Salvador Dali portrayed clocks draped […]

Soil Provides Library of Antibiotic Resistance

The “evolution of antibiotic resistance” is a staple in the creation-evolution debates, providing evolutionists with a living illustration of evolution taking place right before our eyes.  What if all the information for antibiotic resistance, however, already exists in a library from which bacteria can find it?  That seems to be the implication of a study […]

Peer Review: Can You Trust a Scientific Journal Paper?

Science magazine has egg on its face – deviled, poached, and scrambled – everything but sunny side up.  Last May, it printed one of the biggest breakthrough stories of the year in stem cell research: Korean scientist Woo Suk Hwang, a professor at the Seoul National University and President of the World Stem Cell Hub, […]

Minimal Cell More Complex Than Expected

Craig Venter’s lab has been working on an interesting project in theoretical biology: what is the minimum set of genes needed for life?  They have taken one of the simplest organisms, Mycoplasma genitalium, and knocked out genes to see which ones are essential and which are nonessential for viability.  (This is part of the “top […]

How Blind Cave Fish Lose Color

A study on cave fish revealed that several populations can have mutations to the same gene.  A gene that produces melanin, named Oca2, was found to be mutated in two separate populations of cave fish, resulting in albinism.  This same gene can produce albinism in humans. The replicated experiment is a powerful tool for experimental […]

Don’t PNA in our OOL

Theories for the origin of life (OOL) are in a crisis, unable to imagine how something as complex as a replicating cell could come into existence. Could PNA do it?

Micro-RNAs are Cell’s Optimizers

“Unnoticed next to the main ingredients, microRNAs were considered to be ‘junk’ DNA, leftovers from millions of years of evolution.”  That line comes from an article on EurekAlert telling about how dramatically that picture has changed.  RNA molecules are now seen to be indispensable, with many roles in the cell.  This article talked about how […]

Genes Attack the Trees

Evolutionary tree-building (11/14/2005) is a tangled business.  Now that scientists can compare genomes of diverse animals, they can compare the resulting molecular evolutionary trees with traditional ones – those produced by inferring relationships based on outward (morphological) characteristics of living or fossil organisms.  What happens when the trees don’t match?     Two recent studies, […]

Does Gene Expression Evolve?

“Mutation is the ultimate source of biological diversity because it generates the variation that fuels evolution,” wrote four scientists in Nature November 10.1  Conventionally, theorists have focused on gene mutations for that fuel; what about mutations to gene expression?  That’s what they set out to discover.     One would think that positive natural selection […]

March of the Little Penguins Down Darwin Lane?

Penguins are on people’s minds since the movie, but there are other species of the handsome-yet-funny waddlers besides the reigning emperors.  The news media are saying one species demonstrates evolution – another word on the public mind these days.  MSNBC News talked about “Penguin evolution,” and Science Now proclaimed “Evolution on Ice.”  Actually, it’s only […]

Genome Complexity No Measure of Evolution

Do genes show an increasing pattern of complexity from lower to higher organisms?  Not necessarily, reported Elizabeth Pennisi in Science Now.  Cnidarians, including sea anemones and corals, for example, show almost as much complexity in their genomes as humans, whereas fruit flies and worms, seemingly more complex than cnidarians (06/25/2005, 2nd par.) appear to have […]

Listen to Yourself Evolve

A pretty gene is like a melody, decided Mary Anne Clark at Texas Wesleyan University, so she gave life to music—literally.  She translated the structure of proteins into musical notes so that she could hear “protein songs,” reported National Geographic News.  By listening to the songs, scientists and students alike can hear the structure of […]

Can Networks Design Themselves?

A molecular biologist and a physicist at the Weizmann Institute of Science in Israel (see also 09/26/2003) wrote a paper in PNAS1 with an intriguing title: “Spontaneous evolution of modularity and network motifs.”  Can a network arise spontaneously?     Biologists increasingly speak of the interaction of genes, proteins and metabolic processes in terms of […]
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