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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 […]

Fossil Worm: Does It Help Solve Cambrian Explosion Puzzle?

A soft embryo of a Cambrian worm, exquisitely preserved, makes Graham Budd (U. of Uppsala, Sweden) ask some hard questions about it and other recently-discovered embryo fossils in the Jan. 15 issue of Nature:1 These fossils raise several questions, to say the least.  First, how could they possibly be preserved?  Second, why are they concentrated […]

Chinese Puzzle: New Primate Fossil Raises Eyebrows

A new fossil primate skull from China, alleged to be 55 million years old, provides “much-needed substantial evidence of early primates in Asia,” says Robert Martin (Field Museum, Chicago), reporting in the Jan. 1 issue of Nature.1  But “interpretation of the creature’s eye size and activity pattern,” he says, “will spark debate.”  (This is code […]

Line Between Neanderthals and Modern Humans Blurs

There seems to have been an intergradation between big-boned Neanderthals and modern humans, according to the BBC News.  “Newly identified remains from Vindija in Croatia, which date to between 42,000 and 28,000 years ago, are more delicate than ‘classic’ Neanderthals,” writes Paul Rincon.  Not only that, stone tools found nearby look like those of modern […]

How Darwinism Produces Job Security

One thing Darwinism has going for it: it provides endless opportunities to research stories that are nearly impossible to prove.     A case in point was provided in the Dec. 18 issue of Nature.1  John R. Hutchinson (Royal Veterinary College, UK), in a News and Views article on bird evolution, reviewed the new angle […]

Art Evolution Is Backwards

Early art has again been shown to be the work of advanced intellect and culture (see Apr. 22 headline and embedded links).  Carved animal figurines found in Germany1 estimated to be 30,000 to 33,000 years old, display a level of craftsmanship not expected among primitive humans.  In the Dec. 18 issue of Nature2, Anthony Sinclair […]
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