Lamarckism: Dead but Useful
May 11, 2012
Lamarck's theory of evolution was supposed to have died in 1859 when Darwin published his theory of natural selection. Despite textbook depictions of Lamarckism as obsolete, Lamarckian language still surfaces from time to time, even in prestigious journals.
Best Cave Art Is Still the Oldest
May 9, 2012
A new research study confirms that the exquisite cave art at Chauvet Cave is the oldest.
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.
We Became Human by Mistake
May 5, 2012
A new theme in human evolution is making the rounds. According to the story, a mistake led to the human brain, and the rest is history.
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.
Paradigm Shift: Impact Didn't Kill Dinosaurs
April 24, 2012
A new study casts doubt on whether asteroid impacts led to extinctions. It's based on re-interpreting geological evidence used to identify impacts. This finding, if sustained, would undermine the theory that an impact killed off the dinosaurs and a later impact led to the extinction of many large mammals. Even more significant, an overturn of the impact hypothesis would illustrate that scientists are capable of going off on wrong tangents for decades.
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.
Dinosaurs Display Death in Watery Grave
February 16, 2012
Many dinosaur fossils show the animals with neck arched backward. This appearance is so common, it has been dubbed the "dinosaur death pose." Various theories have been invoked to explain it: dessication and final death throes among the most common. A study with chickens shows the arching neck is the automatic response of immersion in water.
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.
Innovation as a Dodge
February 7, 2012
This is not a truck commercial. It’s not about a Dodge as an innovation, but innovation as a dodge. It’s about how a word, innovation, is used as a euphemism in evolution articles. The word seems to mean, “we have no clue how this evolved, but it must have for evolution to be true.” It’s a handy rhetorical trick, because without it, a reader might be tempted to think the evidence supports creation. Some recent articles show how the trick is employed.
Mouse to Elephant? Just Add Time
January 30, 2012
How do you evolve a mouse into an elephant? Just add 24 million generations. But you can shrink it back down in just 100,000 generations. This and other eyebrow-raising stories have been told in the secular science media recently.
News for the Birds
January 24, 2012
Our amazing feathered friends range from tiny hummingbirds to fast-running ostriches, from penguins to pigeons. In both living and fossil forms, they provide endless opportunities for study and fascination. Here are a few recent examples of news for the birds, in both good and bad connotations of the phrase.
More Evidence Cambrian Explosion was Un-Darwinian
January 18, 2012
The Cambrian Explosion (the abrupt appearance of animal phyla in the earliest fossil layers bearing multicellular body plans) remains unmuffled. Known by Darwin as a problem for his theory, it has become more problematic to his followers over time. There are now many more Cambrian fossils than Darwin knew of, and they continue the pattern: sudden appearance of complex animals, complete with legs, digestive systems, eyes, and nervous systems. Discoveries of Precambrian fossils have not helped: the ones that are more than microbial appear to be mere colonies of cells with no relationship to animals. Here are more discoveries that fit this pattern.
More Upsets for Darwin
January 17, 2012
For every hyped-up demonstration of evolution in action the media announces with gusto, there are setbacks that often do not get the splashy headlines. Here are three recent examples.