Category Archives: evolution

Bombardier beetles in action, escaping toad digestion

I’ve only scanned this new paper from Biology Letters (reference and free access below, pdf here), but it’s a report involving one species of the famous bombardier beetles, comprising over 500 species in four “tribes” of the family Carabidae in the order Coleoptera (beetles). They all secrete a hot and toxic spray from their abdomens, […]

Evolutionists at work

There are lots of evolutionists posting on the #Istudyevolution Twitter site. Here’s some pictures of evolutionists I know—friends and colleagues I speak to: Neil is in the next building: Happy Darwin’s Birthday. This from Ray Troll #Istudyevolution — Neil Shubin (@NeilShubin) February 12, 2018 Everyone calls her “Sally”, she’s multifarious and fiercely smart: #Istudyevolution […]

A unique fossil insect with scissors on its head and thorax

It’s Darwin Day, and so we shall have a new paper on the mysteries of evolution. In this case we have a report of an insect whose head and thorax have structures that constitute a pair of scissors—the only insect known to have anything like that. It’s a fossil in Burmese amber, 100 million years […]

Where did spiders come from?

The title question is an evolutionary one: what were the ancestors of today’s spiders? First, some taxonomy. You should know, if you don’t already, that spiders aren’t insects. They’re in the same phylum, Arthropoda, but then belong to the non-insect subphylum Chelicerata, the class Arachnida, and the order Araneae. But their evolutionary origins have been […]

A “parthenogenetic” crayfish reproduces without sex: is it a new species?

There must have been more than a dozen readers who sent me links to the article below by Carl Zimmer in the New York Times (thanks, all!). I skimmed it but was more interested in the published scientific papers about the marbled crayfish. This “species”, if you can call it that (see more below), is […]

A conundrum: What pollinates Venus fly traps?

The Venus flytrap (Dionaea muscipula) is a familiar carnivorous plant in the family Drososeraceae. But, unlike sundews or pitcher plants, it’s the world’s only animal-eating plant that actively snaps a trap to ensnare its prey. Here’s a video showing the traps, which are highly modified leaves: (Small prey can escape the traps through the teeth, […]

I get creationist email: an optometrist extols the perfection of the eye (with Egnor lagniappe)

I woke up to find the email below in my inbox. I’ve eliminated identifying information except for the person’s profession and faith, which seem relevant. The writer purports to “believe in evolution”, but it seems he/she really doesn’t. Hi Jerry, I really enjoyed your book on evolution.  I am an [age redacted] Optometrist (raised Jewish) […]

An open letter to Charlotte Allen, an ignorant, evolution-dissing writer

Dear Ms. Allen, I have become aware of your recent article, “St. Charles Darwin“, in First Things (“America’s most influential journal of religion and public life”). The point of your article appears to be twofold: to defend A. N. Wilson’s execrable hit-piece that masquerades as a book-length biography of Darwin (I reviewed his book here), and, second, to […]

Laland at it again: touts a “radically different” account of evolution

Yes, the folks who want evolutionary biology to be radically expanded to take into account phenomena like development, “niche construction,” culture, and epigenetics are at it again, and again they have nothing to offer but a few lab examples mixed with a lot of hype. And the promoter of this view is once again Kevin […]

Hybrid speciation in Amazonian manakins?

Rather than give a long introduction to hybrid speciation, I refer you to a recent post I did on diploid hybrid speciation in the Galápagos finches; just have a look at the introduction, which talks about the commonness of hybrid speciation in plants (via polyploidy) and its rarity in animals.  The Galápagos finches may be […]