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Another Fossil “Human Ancestor” Claimed

Meet Australopithecus sediba – or is it Homo something?  Scientists are arguing over how to classify new fossils found in a cave at Malapa, South Africa.  Announced today in Science,1 the fossils, alleged to be just under 2 million years old, are producing a strange mixture of hopeful headlines and cautionary counsels from experts.   […]

Smelling Evolution in Bird Genes

The zebra finch genome has been sequenced; it revealed some surprises.  In the chicken, only 70 of the 500 genes encoding smell receptors produce active proteins.  In the zebra finch, 200 do.  What does this mean?  According to a press release from Weizmann Wonder Wander at the Weizmann Institute in Rehovot, Israel, it means Darwin […]

Human Genome “Infinitely More Complex” Than Expected

Ten years after the Human Genome Project was completed, now we know: biology is “orders of magnitude” more complicated than scientists expected.  So wrote Erika Check Hayden in Nature News March 31 and in the April 1 issue of Nature.1     An air of daunting complexity haunts the article.  The Human Genome Project was […]

Snakes Alive!  An Evolutionary Tale

Blind snakes that look like worms: they rule the world.  They’re everywhere.  Where did they come from?  “Blindsnakes are not very pretty, are rarely noticed, and are often mistaken for earthworms,” admits Blair Hedges, professor of biology at Penn State University.  “Nonetheless, they tell a very interesting evolutionary story.”  So reported Science Daily.  National Geographic […]

Tree of Life – or of Evil Knowledge?

Evolutionary trees are now widely available in a web database.  Scientists can upload and download huge amounts of information on evolutionary relationships of plants, animals and protists.  But is this a case of scientific progress, or of mass deception?     You can go to TreeBase.org and find a treasure trove of phylogenetic information.  The […]

Can Morality Be Darwinized?

There’s a cottage industry within the Darwin empire that tries to explain morality in terms of natural selection.  Hardly a week passes without some new paper trying to explain why humans reward moral behavior and punish immoral behavior.  Some try to do it by finding morality in animals, as if to portray a continuity in […]

Everything You Know About Evolution Is Wrong (Again)

There’s a genre of science news stories characterized by pointing out things Darwin got wrong.  It’s not creationists that do this – these are secular reporters and evolutionary biologists.  They seem to try to one-up Darwin by proposing new theories that do evolution better.  They usually don’t go far enough to jettison Darwin completely, but […]

“Synthetic Evolution” – Is it Really Intelligent Design?

Some Cambridge scientists engineered a four-character genetic code and made some proteins with it.  They guided the process at every step, but claim that they “evolved” this code.  Is that a fair use of language?  This strange admixture of concepts is found in today’s issue of Nature.1  The confusion began right in the title: “Encoding […]

What Good Is Natural Selection without Progress?

Three papers recently claim to have seen natural selection.  None of them, however, identified a functional advantage that would have tied changes to novel benefits that could improve a species.  Yeast:  “New Type of Genetic Variation Could Strengthen Natural Selection,” trumpeted a headline in Science Daily.  It was about a study of two varieties of […]

Life Crams Stuff on the Long Road

This quote from UC Berkeley wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: In the long evolutionary road from bacteria to humans, a major milestone occurred some 1.5 billion years ago when microbes started building closets for all their stuff, storing DNA inside a nucleus, for example, or cramming all the energy machinery inside mitochondria. Any […]

Dinosaur Evolution Is Relative

The science news media are all reporting that the “oldest known dinosaur relative” has been found.  The artist reconstructions of Asilisaurus kongwe, found in middle Triassic layers in Tanzania, make the creature look quite dinosaurian; at least it was dog-sized and walked on thick legs under its body like its famous brethren did.  Its early […]

Atheism in a Test Tube

Conflicting views on atheism by scientists show that deducing the intellectual status of atheism is not an exact science.  Are such questions even approachable by the scientific method?  What conclusions could be drawn?     National Geographic reported Kanazawa’s theory that liberals and atheists are smarter (02/27/2010) without much criticism.  Reporter Maggie Koerth-Baker only said […]

Ida Not a Human Ancestor

If Ida known then what I know now: the media-frenzied presentation of Ida (Darwinius masillae) as a distant relative of human beings last year has been debunked.  “Many lines of evidence indicate that Darwinius has nothing at all to do with human evolution,” said Chris Kirk (U of Texas) in an article on Science Daily.  […]

How to Call Your Opponent Stupid Using Evolution

It may be that Professor Kanazawa was intending to be compassionate by couching his assessment in the language of evolutionary theory, but he essentially made a categorical judgment that conservatives and Christians are stupid, and atheists and the sexually promiscuous are smart.  How could he say such a thing?  He could dodge the charge of […]

Making Evolution Simple

Getting the vast diversity of highly complex creatures seems an impossible task for evolutionary theory, but some recent stories claim it’s not so hard.  Beak of the finch:  Darwin’s finches keep pecking their way into the media.  A new study claims that the wide diversity of beak shapes that have evolved can be explained by […]
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