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Darwin’s Finches Evolve – Back and Forth

What’s new on the Galápagos?  For those needing an update on Darwin’s famous finches, the researchers who have spent the most time studying them – Peter and Mary Grant (Princeton) – wrote a Quick Guide in Current Biology1 in question-and-answer format.  We’ll skip the introductory material about how the birds got named after Darwin, and […]

I.D. vs. Evolution Rhetoric Continues Unabated

The surge in articles and editorials about intelligent design vs. evolution, prompted by President Bush’s remarks (08/13/2005) often seems to track the political philosophy of the person or group: Republican vs. Democrat, conservative vs. liberal – but not always.  Recent salvos: Irish Scream:  Bill O’Reilly had Dr. Richard Sternberg on his O’Reilly Factor show on […]

Why Mathematical Formalism Eludes Evolutionary Theory

An important mathematical tool used by evolutionists has been discredited.  To study life history evolution (i.e., the changes over time in a population’s reproductive age, maximum size, age at death, etc.) evolutionists have relied on Charnov’s concept of life history invariants.  These invariants, which are “dimensionless ratios of two life history traits—for instance, age at […]

Italy Going Soft on Darwinism

The controversy over evolution is not limited to American shores.  An editorial in the September issue of American Naturalist1 expresses concern that evolutionary biology is getting a low-key treatment in Italian universities: The Darwinian theory of evolution by natural selection is the unifying principle of the biological sciences.  Unfortunately in the Italian academic system, evolutionary […]

Dumb Down or Wise Up?  Rhetoric Over ID Intensifies

More and more reporters, scientists and scientific societies are weighing in with their opinions on evolution vs. intelligent design (ID) this week (see 08/13/2005 entry).  Here are some of the more interesting of the recent salvos: It’s Official: ID Is Not Science:  If the scientific validity of an idea can be ruled by authority, then […]

What Is Really Known About the Genetic Basis of Evolution?

Now that the genomes of a variety of plants and animals have been published, is there a clear picture of evolution emerging?  Sean Carroll (Howard Hughes Medical Institute) wrote a review in PLoS Biology,1 in which he explored the current thinking about the evolution of anatomy at the genetic level.  The thing to watch for […]

Michael Ruse Balances the Scales in Creation-Evolution Conflict

Sahotra Sarkar seems in a bit of dilemma about how to treat Michael Ruse’s new book, The Evolution-Creation Struggle (Harvard, 2005).  In his review of the book in Science,1 Sarkar knew that Ruse is an important ally in the fight against intelligent design (see 02/18/2003 entry), but he seemed a little bit put off by […]

A Day in the Life of an Evolutionary Biologist

Meet Dr. Judith X. Becerra.  She is an expert on plants of Mexico.  Her latest research strove to determine the rate of evolutionary diversification of a genus of trees with a name similar to her own surname: Bursera.  These trees inhabit a range of biomes in the tropical dry forests of Mexico and are well […]

More Evidence the Molecular Clock is Broken

“We live in interesting times,” grinned David Penny in Nature,1 reporting on how estimates of evolutionary past based on comparative genomics (the molecular clock) is producing confusing results.  Apparently, evolutionary geneticists are going to have to make use of the theory of relativity – i.e., that how fast the clock ticks depends on the viewpoint […]

Horse Evolution Tale Gets Hairier

If you thought the story of horse evolution was well understood as a poster child of Darwinism at work, consider what Weinstock et al. say in a preprint in PLoS Biology:1 The rich fossil record of horses has made them a classic example of evolutionary processes.  However, while the overall picture of equid evolution is […]

Is Evo-Devo the Source of Endless Forms Most Beautiful?

Even staunch Darwinist Jerry A. Coyne (U of Chicago) thought this evolutionary book went overboard: Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo-Devo by Sean B. Carroll (Norton, 2005), which he reviewed in Nature last week.1  (The title comes from a phrase at the end of Darwin’s Origin of Species.)  It’s a first-rate introduction […]

Croc Teeth Bite Fatal Wound into Dino Phylogeny

This line sounds serious: “We have pretty much erased the record of Triassic ornithischian dinosaurs from North America, Europe and worldwide, except for South America.”  This is what William Parker said about his find of a complete Revueltosaurus fossil in Arizona that upsets the leading story of the rise of the ornithischian dinosaurs (one of […]

Are Teens Like Roaches?

A press release from University of Manchester concluded that being a teenage mother might be a good thing.  The conclusion was based on observations of the mating behavior of cockroaches.  Dr. Patricia Moore, one of the researchers, wins Stupid Evolution Quote of the Week: “Although it’s hard to compare the experiences of the female cockroach […]

Reports Differ on Kansas Evolution Debates

How is the debate over evolution in Kansas going?  It depends on whom you ask.  MSNBC News focused on personal attacks between board members (see also the Lexington Herald-Leader).  The Discovery Institute, by contrast, focused on the content of the new proposed standards that allows a “common-sense” approach for teaching all the science about evolution, […]

Virginia Teacher Chastened for Making Optional Creation Material Available

A highly-respected and well-liked high school biology teacher in Bristol, Virginia almost lost his job recently.  His crime?  Making an optional notebook of supplementary material called “Creation Battles Evolution” available to his students.  The notebook, printed at his own expense, included evidence for creation and against evolution, from “sources ranging from the Internet to scholarly […]
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