Category Archives: evolution

Readers’ wildlife photographs (and videos)

Reader Olen Rambow sent a video demonstrating = convergent evolution: a “hummingbird moth”, one of several species that hovers before flowers like hummingbirds and sucks nectar from them with a large proboscis. This one is probably the white-lined sphinx moth, Hyles lineata. His notes are indented: While visiting Santa Fe, NM, I ran across a moth […]

A field-trip course in England on Darwin and evolution

Every year my friend Andrew Berry, a lecturer and student advisor at Harvard, teaches a summer course at Oxford for Harvard undergrads. Its theme is Darwin and evolution, and the best part is that since the course takes place in DarwinLand, he can take the students to various historical sites and show them the science […]

Hangin’ on in the wind: Natural selection, hurricanes, and lizards

by Greg Mayer At the Anolis Symposium at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in March, one of the stars of the show was Colin Donihue of Harvard University, who gave a talk on the effect of last fall’s Hurricane Irma on Anolis scriptus, the endemic (and only native) anole of the Turks and Caicos. Colin and […]

My short intro to the genetics of speciation

UPDATE: If you want a pdf of my article, which seems to be behind a paywall, just inquire judiciously. _________________   The journal Molecular Ecology is producing a special issue on “Sex chromosomes and speciation”, which will contain about 17 papers. Some of these have already been published online, and though there’s not yet a […]

Do hyenas smash the patriarchy?

UPDATE: In the comments, reader PJ calls our attention to a piece showing that Wu even gets the biology of hyenas badly wrong. Click on the screenshot: The criticisms Herzog outlines, which come from experts on hyenas, are far more serious than the logical fallacies I identify below, for it shows that Wu, a graduate […]

How best to communicate science?

It is increasingly evident that, unlike acceptance of most scientific “truths” (i.e. provisional truths), acceptance of evolution rests not on knowing the many facts supporting evolution, but about being part of a “tribe” (liberals, intelligentsia, and so on) that either accepts evolution, or of a “tribe” (conservative religionists and Republicans) that rejects evolution. Here, for […]

Stick insects can disperse like plant seeds: in bird poop

One of the striking observations about life on oceanic islands—those islands, like Hawaii and the Galapagos, that arose, bereft of life, from volcanic activity below the sea—is the prevalence of native birds, insects, and plants, and the paucity of native reptiles, mammals, and amphibians. (Continental islands, like Great Britain, that were once connected to larger […]

Evolution largely omitted and diluted from Arizona’s new education standards

Arizona has revised its educational standards for the first time in 15 years: these guidelines cover kindergarten through grade 12 (age about 18), and they’ve watered down the evolution standards, deleting several mentions of the “e-word” and severely qualifying others. You can see the reports below, at The Hill (click on screenshot), at the Arizona […]

Another lousy article on epigenetics, this time in the New York Review of Books

I don’t know who the New York Review of Books is getting to vet its biology articles, but this one below (free access) is really confusing. One reason may be that the authors have no particular expertise in evolution. Israel Rosenfeld is an MD with training in neuroscience, while Edward Ziff is a professor at NYU […]

Natural history museum in Jerusalem covers exhibit on evolution to avoid offending ultra-Orthodox Jews

UPDATE: A kind reader sent me the email for the Natural History Museum,, and if you want to write to them about this, feel free. Here’s my email: ********* To whom it may concern: As an evolutionary biologist of Jewish ancestry, I am deeply offended at your practice of covering up the human evolution exhibit lest […]