Category Archives: adaptation

How the pebble toad rolls

The best part of being an evolutionary biologist is learning about the endless ways that animals adapt to their existence and environment.  (The classic aphorism is “Natural selection is cleverer than you are.”) And here’s a behavior completely new to me: the escape behavior of the pebble toad, Oreophrynella nigra, from Bolivia and Guyana. The […]

The amazing mimicry of frogfish

I have a penchant for cases of mimicry, not only because they served as some of the earliest evidence for natural selection in Darwin’s time, but also because they show how far natural selection can achieve “perfection”—that is, how far do developmental and physical constraints prevent the evolution of an “optimum phenotype.” The answer is […]

A free journal issue on experimental evolution

Biology Letters is offering free access to its latest issue on “experimental evolution,” an issue edited by Thomas Batailon, Paul Joyce, and my friend Paul Sniegowski. You can see the table of contents at the link above, and here are the free articles: Feature Articles Introduction – As it happens: current directions in experimental evolution […]

Free articles on the genomics of adaptation

The Proceedings of the Royal Society (B) has a special issue on the genomics of adaptation that it’s making available for free to everyone. You can see the contents here; they include these articles, which can be accessed directly from my links. Introduction: The genomics of adaptation by Jacek Radwan and Wieslaw Babik Research article: […]

Giant arthropods, then and now

by Greg Mayer The Naturmuseum Senckenberg in Frankfurt am Main, one of Europe’s great natural history museums, has announced the discovery in Laos of one of the world’s largest known daddy longlegs by Senckenberg researcher Peter Jager. The apparently new species is now being studied by Jager and his Senckenberg colleague, Ana Lucia Tourinho. Daddy […]

Near-perfect camouflage

I don’t know what this insect is, but I’m sure one of my readers does.  But first you have to see it!  It took me a while to spot it, but of course that’s why it has evolved. Have a gander (from’s photos): h/t: Matthew Cobb, as usual!

James Shapiro goes after natural selection again (twice) on HuffPo

I hate to give attention to my Chicago colleague James Shapiro’s bizarre ideas about evolution, which he publishes weekly on HuffPo rather than in peer-reviewed journals. His Big Idea is that natural selection has not only been overemphasized in evolution, but appears to play very little role at all.  Even though he’s spreading nonsense in […]

More cool mimicry: a ladybug-mimicking spider

From the Flicker page of Nicky Bay, a photographer from Singapore, we have this beautiful example of mimicry: a spider (not an insect) mimicking a ladybug (“ladybird beetle” to Brits, which is actually more accurate since these insects are members of the order Coleoptera—beetles—rather than that of the “true bugs”, Hemiptera). Ladybugs are brightly colored […]

A bat with a stupendously long tongue

New species of mammals aren’t found very often, but if one is, chances are it will be a bat.  Bats are secretive, often nocturnal, and numerous.  With more than 1200 species in the order Chiroptera, they represent 20% of all mammalian species (red in the pie chart below); the only bigger order is the rodents: […]

A marvel of evolution: the dactyl club of stomatopods

Stomatopods, also known as “mantis shrimp,” are an order of marine crustaceans. They’re a nasty piece of work; as Wikipedia notes: Called “sea locusts” by ancient Assyrians, “prawn killers” in Australia and now sometimes referred to as “thumb splitters” – because of the animal’s ability to inflict painful gashes if handled incautiously[4 – mantis shrimp sport […]


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