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Orchids: Epitome of Plant Evolution

“Orchids might be considered the epitome of plant evolution,” said David Roberts [Royal Botanic Gardens, Kew] and Kingsley Dixon [Kings Park and Botanic Garden, Australia] in a primer on orchids in Current Biology.1  Yet some of the facts they shared about these amazingly diverse and well-adapted plants are puzzling for evolutionary theory.     First, […]

Inferences from Old Protein

The dinosaur leg bone with the soft tissue was back in the news.  Back in 2005 (03/24/2005), a femur from a T. rex broke open during transport and was found to contain pliable tissue and blood vessels with apparent red blood cells.  This was a “phenomenon, once thought impossible” for such tissues to have survived […]

Evolution Revealed?

When the news reports evidence for evolution in the fossils or genes, it sounds like Darwinism has been all but proved, because scientists have observed its effects.  Can these stories withstand deeper scrutiny? Lungless frog:  Science Daily reported a frog without lungs in Borneo.  Lunglessness in tetrapods has been reported in salamanders and other amphibians, […]

Imagination as Science

Can a science exist without evidence?  Astrobiology, and its subcategory “the search for extraterrestrial intelligence,” involve a great deal of scientific equipment, trained researchers, and funding, but still have no observational evidence to support their reason for being: extraterrestrial life.  Where is the line between imagination and reality in these fields?     Some insight […]

Itemized Deductions

Here are some free deductions to take the edge off Income Tax Day…. as long as one deduces correctly. Israel is picking a national bird.  So what feathered friend will represent the Holy Land?  “The nine finalists include the hoopoe, the owl, the spur-winged plover, and the griffin vulture, but no doves.”  Source: Science, Random […]

Big Science Fights Its Customers

Has “Big Science” lost contact with the public it serves?  Several recent reports show the scientific establishment (as represented by the leading journals) taking positions at polar opposites of the majority, and wagging the dog of the body politic. Chimeras:  Even though ethicists have called it “a monstrous attack on human rights,” to blend human […]

Adulterers: Evolution Made Us That Way

Two articles that appeared the same day on Live Science are a study in contrasts.  One was titled, “Surviving Infidelity: What Wives Do When Men Cheat.”  The other was titled, “Are Humans Meant to Be Monogamous?”  The thread that tied them together was evolution.     The first article admitted the distress, shame, and sense […]

Neanderthals: Random Drift, Not Natural Selection

The differences between Neanderthals and modern humans were not due to evolution for bigger brains or anything of the sort.  They were due to genetic drift, says an article on Live Science.     “A team of anthropologists has compared measurements of Neanderthal skulls to modern human skulls, and argues that most variations among them […]

Oldest Bat Fossil: Was It Evolving?

A bat fossil surpassing the previous record holder for the oldest by 2 million years made the cover of Nature this week.1  The news media immediately began saying that it provided insight into evolution.  The BBC News announced “Bat fossil solves evolution poser.”  National Geographic called it the icing on the cake, and said that […]

Facile Fixes for Fossil Foibles

Can biologists see Darwin in the fossils?  Only if they look hard.  Andrew P. Hendry (McGill University) wrote in Nature that Darwin has been there all along; we just weren’t looking right.1     Hendry argues that our methods of statistically analyzing the fossil record are guaranteed not to see Darwin.  To explain the patterns […]

Animals from Junk by Chance

How to build an animal: throw junk DNA at it.  That seems to be the latest idea on where higher animals came from.  A press release from University of Bristol posted on Science Daily and EurekAlert announced, “‘Junk DNA’ Can Explain Origin And Complexity Of Vertebrates, Study Suggests.”     The basic idea, coming from […]

Did Birds Evolve Aeronautical Engineering?

Two news stories on birds may not seem to flock together.  One is about their supreme aeronautical engineering.  The other ponders when they evolved.     A story on EurekAlert and Science Daily describes how engineers are eyeing birds, bats and insects for design ideas.  The appeal is clear from the following comparisons: A Blackbird […]

Indebted to Darwin

Britain’s Food Standards Agency is concerned about diminishing fish stocks and is asking citizens to consume less, reported The Telegraph.  This can only mean one thing, thinks Ulf Dieckmann (International Institute for Applied Systems Analysis in Austria): it’s come time to pay the piper.  Who is the piper, you ask?  Answer: Charles Darwin. Dr Dieckmann […]

Did Darwinism Build the Nuclear Pore Complex?

After nine years of work, three universities including a team at Rockefeller University completed a beautiful new model of the nuclear pore complex.  The story is told by Science Daily.     The article attributed the origin of this exquisite gatekeeper of the nucleus to evolution: “their findings provide a glimpse into how the nucleus […]

Do Chicks Tell Dinosaur Tales?

For years, evolutionary biologists have battled over the origin of flight.  Did dinosaurs run along the ground and take off, or did they jump from trees?  The first idea is called the cursorial hypothesis; the latter, the arboreal hypothesis.  In 2003, Ken Dial [U Montana] had an idea: maybe watching partridge chicks could inform the […]
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