Category Archives: evolution

CNN science completely botches natural selection in the headline, and is confusing in the text

I have little time to post this morning, but I call your attention to a really dreadful piece of science journalism at CNN. It refers to a new paper in PLoS Genetics by Arslan Zaidi et al. (reference below, free access) describing how natural selection based on climate (temperature and humidity) may have molded the nose shape […]

Defining species: a new but problematic species concept

A few days ago I was interviewed by Eva Botkin-Kowacki, a science writer for the Christian Science Monitor. She wanted to discuss a new paper on speciation in birds, a commentary published in The Auk by Geoffrey E. Hill of Auburn University: “The mitonuclear compatibility species concept” (free download, reference at bottom). She also interviewed several other […]

Whence the beaver? They’re kangaroo rats, not squirrels!

Of course the title is clickbait, but it does express a new finding: that, among Rodentia (yes, beavers are rodents), whose phylogeny was till now a bit unclear, we now learn that beavers are more closely related to kangaroo rats than to squirrels. For a long time, beavers had been thought to be closely related to […]

Video series of WEIT (Chapter 1)

Treat Paine Metcalf of MassComprehension is producing a series of online videos using the words from Chapter 1 of Why Evolution is True. Part 3 has just come out, and two more videos remain. (No other chapters will be done). Here’s the latest, and you can find all three at this link. This is part […]

Ancestry. . . . or convergence?

In Experimental Parasitology, two scientists have proposed that “macrophages”—specialized white blood cells that, as part of the immune system, destroy invaders like microbes, are descended from an amoeba. This is based largely on the morphological resemblance of a macrophage and the amoeba, and on the fact that they both eat microorganisms. See the similarity? But this […]

The fallacy of the creationist distinction between micro- and macroevolution

I’ve belabored this issue before, but there’s always a new crop of readers who might need a lesson. I’m talking about a common creationist trope: the claim that microevolution can occur, usually defined as “evolution within a species” or “evolution within a kind” (whatever a “kind” is), but that macroevolution—seen as a transition from one “kind” […]

Why are giant pandas colored that way? Answer: It’s complicated

Admit it: you’ve wondered, because you’re interested in evolution, why giant pandas are colored that way: “parti-colored”, as they say in the trade. (Their Latin binomial, Ailuropoda melanoleuca, means “cat-foot, black and white”.) Here’s one, in the extremely unlikely case you’ve forgotten: No other bear looks anything like that. A new paper in Behavioral Ecology by Tim Caro […]

Michio Kaku gets human evolution all wrong on The Big Thunk

UPDATE: I forgot that I had an earlier post showing Kaku embarrassing himself about his own field, also on The Big Thunk. Go here to see the fun. ___________ When I saw this video on Larry Moran’s Sandwalk site, I remembered an old Jewish joke that goes something like this (“schnorrer,” by the way, is […]

A clever new hypothesis about insect mimicry

Over the years I’ve written here about several kinds of mimicry. The most common subjects have been Batesian mimicry, in which the evolutionary scenario involves three species: an easily identifiable and noxious or toxic model, a predator that learns (or has evolved) to avoid the model (signal receiver), and an edible mimic that evolves to resemble the model. You can […]

Spiffy Darwin “Origin” tee shirt

Reader Peter called my attention to this lovely Origin of Species tee shirt. I know I’ve put it up before, but here it is again, and it has 40,000 words of The Origin on it imprinted by dye sublimation. That’s not the whole book by any means: as my friend Andrew Berry just found out by […]