Category Archives: evolution

The Great Sacred Ibis Debate: an episode in the history of evolutionary biology

While evolution became a big deal in 1859 with the publication of Darwin’s Origin, there were of course people who had the idea of evolutionary change before him. One of these was Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1839), who suggested that organisms had evolved over long periods of time, but who has become infamous for suggesting that that evolution […]

Dear BBC: Yes, we are descended from monkeys. And no, evolution and religion are not compatible.

Yesterday I wrote a bit about the BBC’s new seven-question “Test your knowledge of evolution quiz” (quiz here, my posts here and here), which was (and is) larded with ambiguous questions and wrong answers. They’ve now changed the irrelevant religion question (#7), which originally said, “Evolution and religion are incompatible. True or false?” (the answer was […]

The BBC changed the religion/science accommodationism question on its evolution quiz

As reader Eric astutely pointed out, the BBC has now changed question #7—the “accommodationism” question—in the evolution quiz I described this morning. It previously read this way: Now it reads this way: I’m fairly sure, but not positive, that calling attention to this question by myself or others has led to the change. It’s an […]

BBC gives a dumb quiz on how much you know about evolution

Readers Dom and Kevin called my attention to this new quiz on the BBC website that supposedly tests your knowledge of evolution. It was compiled with the help of Dr. Paula Kover, who teaches evolution at the University of Bath. Click on the screenshot to take the seven-question quiz. I got only 5/7, but that’s […]

RadioLab distorts some science

There’s been a lot of publicity about David Quammen’s new book, The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, which tells the story of the discovery of a new domain of life, the Archaea, the discovery that chloroplasts and mitochondria are the remnants of anciently absorbed microbes, and, most novel, the recent discovery of […]

A new review (and critique) of Richard Prum’s book on sexual selection

I’ve now read Richard O. Prum’s new book, The Evolution of Beauty: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World—and Us (I’d highlighted the work earlier in my critique of his NY Times article about the book). Click on the screenshot to go to the book’s Amazon site. (Prum is a professor of ornithology, ecology, […]

Epigenetics: the return of Lamarck? Not so fast!

I noticed that there’s a new book out by Peter Ward, a biology professor at the University of Washington who’s done a lot of work on nautilus cepalopods. (He’s also written several trade books in biology.) Here’s his new book, and, as you can see, the cover touts epigenetics as “Lamarck’s Revenge” (Jean-Baptiste Lamarck [1744-1829] […]

My WaPo review of David Quammen’s new book on evolutionary trees (and a comparison with other reviews)

I’ve just reviewed David Quammen’s new book, The Tangled Tree: A Radical New History of Life, for the Washington Post. Click on the screenshot to see my review. (Note that the original title, which was a bit misleading, has been changed to the new one below.) It will be in the paper version of Sunday’s […]

32-year study: Australian students become less creationist and more accepting of evolution, almost certainly because of growing secularism

This new study at Evolution: Education and Outreach (reference below, free access and free pdf here) reports the results of 32 annual surveys of first-year biology students in at The University of New South Wales (UNSW). Unlike the data from the U.S., which I’ll discuss briefly below, the Aussie data show a tremendous and salubrious change […]

Here we go again: a Templeton-sponsored conference designed to “expand” evolutionary biology

When I was sent this announcement of a conference on evolution at Cambridge University next year (click on screenshots), and when I read the program and saw the speakers (links at third screenshot), I smelled a RAT (abbreviation for “rubbish and Templeton”), but I didn’t know for sure that the John Templeton Foundation was one […]