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Coelacanth: Survival of the Dullest
May 5, 2012
A new fossil species of coelacanth was discovered in Canada. Scientists think from its tail fin shape that it was a fast swimmer–perhaps a hunter. Sadly, it was a "spectacular failure" in evolution. The luck of the evolutionary draw went to today's slow-moving, docile species.
Animals Have Biological GPS
April 30, 2012
Global Positioning System (GPS): that's a function. Maintaining a suite of satellites is one method for achieving the function. But there are other ways to figure out where in the world you are, and two very different animals show the way – naturally – using Earth's global magnetic field.
Why You Are Waterproof
April 29, 2012
Can you imagine inflating like a water balloon every time you jumped in a swimming pool? Or what if water leaked out of your skin every time you drank a glass of water? Your skin forms an impermeable barrier to water, a new study found, because of a unique way certain molecules are arranged.
Questioning the Dino-Bird Hypothesis
April 27, 2012
The scientific consensus has pretty much declared it a fact of natural history that birds evolved from dinosaurs. One evolutionary professor remains a gadfly, though. He contests the evidence on which the hypothesis is based, and also believes his maverick position is growing.
King David Ruled Cities, Not Shepherds
April 24, 2012
Ongoing archaeological finds from Khirbet Qeiyafa in ancient Judah now show conclusively that the site had fortified walls with gates, administrative buildings, bronze and iron objects, and artifacts suggesting extensive trade with foreign powers. These discoveries cast doubt on the "minimalist" chronology of some liberal scholars who claim that King David, even if he existed, was a tribal chief over pastoralists.
From Wonders of Nature to Wonders of Technology
April 22, 2012
Living things have solved physics problems like design engineers. Inventors are just now catching on to their tricks in ways that could improve our technology, weaning us off our crude, polluting past and ushering in advanced technology that is not only greener but more effective. The latest stars are two insects and a bacterium.
Cambrian Explosion: Sedimentary, My Dear Flotsam
April 20, 2012
"Then something happened." Question: are you reading a science article, or a fictional screenplay? Are you in the Science Department or the Humanities Department? Are you in the lab or the theater? Find out in today's episode of "Explain the Cambrian Explosion."
Is This Plant Really 30,000 Years Old?
February 20, 2012
A plant said to be 30,000 years old has been brought to life in Russia. A team resurrected a fruit from a rodent burrow in Siberian permafrost, getting it to grow into a whole plant that produces viable seeds. This is now the oldest age claim, by an order of magnitude, for plant material made to live again. Other scientists are startled that plant material could remain viable for so long, since cells have to repair their DNA continually. Other botany news bring different problems to evolutionary theory.
OOL for Landlubbers
February 12, 2012
No part of the universal evolutionary scenario gets more overhauls than the origin of life. Some say it began in the sea, some on the land. Some say it began at the bottom of the sea; others say that is the worst place for life to get going. The latest idea favors freshwater hot springs on land.
More Reasons to Doubt Scientific Pronouncements
February 11, 2012
It’s unsettling to hear scientists say that long-held beliefs might be wrong, but that’s the nature of science. Scientific “findings” are tentative, not absolute. Some see this as a strength of science, but unless actual progress is demonstrated, that strength is called into question. Recent news casts doubt on various scientific methods and beliefs that had been trusted for a long time.
Humans Evolved from Dogs
February 10, 2012
A new finding shows dogs performing better on one kind of intelligence test than chimpanzees. If evolution teaches that human intelligence is the main trait separating us from other animals, and dogs are smarter than apes, shouldn’t the conclusion be that dogs are closer on the family tree? If not, is it valid for evolutionary biologists to pick and choose the traits that matter?