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Neanderthals Not Our Cousins, Expert Claims

The news media are reporting claims that Neanderthals and modern humans never interbred, based on work from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology.  Both EurekAlert and Nature Science Update repeat the claim that the institute’s study of DNA and bones from four Neanderthals and five modern humans from scattered locations rules out any interbreeding. […]

The Paleoanthropologist Mantra: “We Need More Fossils!”

Everyone join in and chant “the mantra of all paleontologists: We need more fossils!”  If you are a seeker of bones that might give clues of human ancestry, repeating this phrase might relieve stress.     In quotes above is the concluding line of an editorial by David R. Begun in the March 5 issue […]

Rethinking the Geological Layers

One of the most formative ideas in Darwin’s intellectual journey was the concept of gradualism, the principle of “small agencies and their cumulative effects.”  This idea became a dominant motif in his philosophy of life.  Describing how the assumption of gradualism permeated his last book (on earthworms) shortly before his death, Janet Browne, in her […]

Antarctic Dinosaurs Found

Penguinosaurus?  Not exactly, but two previously unknown species of dinosaurs were found in different parts of Antarctica recently, according to EurekAlert.  Bones of a theropod and a sauropod were found by separate teams.  Judd Case, one of the discoverers of the theropod (of which T. Rex and velociraptor are examples), was perplexed by the find: […]

Evolution of Language Debated

The Feb. 27 issue of Science features the topic of the evolution of language.1  The thousands of words in 10 articles might be summarized by the title of a book review by Andrew Carstairs-McCarthy: “Many Perspectives, No Consensus.”2 Since there are many perspectives and no consensus, language evolution is one of the subjects Darwinists love.  […]

Learn to Speak: Toss a Spear

Human language evolved after our ancestors learned to throw a spear, according to William H. Calvin, in his new book A Brief History of the Mind: From Apes to Intellect and Beyond (Oxford, 2003).  Robin Dunbar is not too sure about this, in a book review in the Feb. 26 issue of Nature.1  Although he […]

Early Man Studies: Start Over

Anthropologist Leslea J. Hlusko (U. of Illinois) had some stern advice for her paleoanthropologist colleagues in PNAS1 recently.  Noting that “Competing interpretations of human origins and evolution have recently proliferated despite the accelerated pace of fossil discovery,” she thinks an approach is needed that integrates genetics and development with the search for bones.  She takes […]

Oldest Fossil Insect Alleged

In a pattern that sounds familiar, an insect fossil has been found that (1) is the oldest ever discovered, and (2) shows that “winged flight may have emerged earlier than previously thought.”  Estimates put this fossil at about 400 million years old, among the first creatures to colonize the land.  Though wing impressions were not […]

Evolutionists Publish Racist Book

“Disturbing” is how Robert N. Proctor (Penn State) describes a new book by two prominent evolutionists in the Feb. 5 issue of Nature.1  The book is Race: The Reality of Human Differences by Vincent Sarich and Frank Miele (Westview, 2004), and Proctor has a lot of politically correct diatribe to heap on it, though reluctantly: […]

Why Darwin Is Like Yoda, and Darwinism Like Marxism

Homage for the master is palpable in John Vandermeer’s review (Science, Jan. 23)1 of a thick new book entitled Niche Construction: The Neglected Process in Evolution by Odling-Smee, Laland and Feldman (Princeton, 2004).  Vandermeer seems almost worshipful in his opening lines: The nascent germ of many novel ideas in biology can be traced directly or […]

Hundreds of Whales Buried Suddenly in Diatoms

A remarkable fossil find has been found in Peru: 346 whales buried in diatomaceous earth.  The preservation of the whales is so pristine and complete, the authors of the paper in the Feb. 2004 issue of Geology1 conclude that the whales had to be buried rapidly, in days or weeks.  If so, it represents a […]

How Snakes Lost Their Limbs

Penn State scientists have a story for how snakes, which presumably evolved from lizards, lost their legs.  They had to burrow through tight places.     Part of their story involved disproving that snakes evolved from sea-going reptiles, like mosasaurs, explains the press release from Penn State’s Eberly College of Science.  They compared genes from […]

Extinction Puzzle Explained as Selection Effect

It’s not evolution, it’s statistics.  That’s the conclusion of Robert Scotland and Michael Sanderson in the Jan. 30 issue of Science.  What’s the puzzle? When biodiversity is examined in the context of species richness, a consistent feature emerges: Most taxonomic groups are species-poor, relatively few are species-rich, and the frequency distribution has the shape of […]

The New Phrenology Ostracizes Neanderthals

Scientists contrasted different points on Neanderthal skulls to modern human skulls, and concluded Neanderthals were a separate species.  The New York Times report by John Noble Wilford says that not all scientists are convinced, however, by the analysis published by Katerina Harvati et al. in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences1 Jan. 26 […]

La Brea Tar Pits Trap Scientists

Sid Perkins of Science News dropped in at La Brea Tar Pits in Los Angeles, and got stuck, not in tar, but in the sticky evolutionary interpretations of these world-famous fossil deposits.  This fossil bed, right in one of the ritziest parts of Los Angeles (adjacent to the County Art Museum), Perkins whimsically calls “L.A.’s […]
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