Category Archives: evolution

The secret of zebra stripes solved—or so scientists say

Over the past five years I’ve written several posts on the long-standing and vexing question, “Why on earth do zebras have stripes?” (See posts here, here and here.) If you’ve read those posts, you’ll know about the experiments that seemed to settle the issue, or at least that gave a good indication of the evolutionary forces that promoted the […]

The lichen story and the guy who revised it

A story I wrote in July of last year described a huge change in our understanding of one of the best known cases of symbiosis: the view that a lichen is a symbiotic partnership between a fungus and an alga. That happens to be true—the alga photosynthesizes, producing food for the fungus, while the fungus provides support, […]

Turkish government removes evolution from nation’s high-school curriculum

“I have no religion, and at times I wish all religions at the bottom of the sea. He is a weak ruler who needs religion to uphold his government; it is as if he would catch his people in a trap. My people are going to learn the principles of democracy, the dictates of truth […]

A “superbug”, resistant to all antibiotics, kills Nevada woman

PBS reports on the death of a Nevada woman who had a bacterial infection resistant to all known antibiotics (they tried 26). Microbes, it seems, are evolving resistance faster than humans can devise new antibiotics. The report from the Centers for Disease Control is here; the bit below is an extract from the PBS article: Public health officials from […]

A new general book on evolution by Steve Jones (and one on climate change by Prince Charles)

I often get emails from parents asking if there are good books on evolution for their kids. I’ve recommended some (Grandmother Fish is quite good), and some day I’ll compile a list, though I haven’t read them all and really can’t compare them. But at least I can call your attention to new ones. In this case […]

A new creationist movie

Imagine being an evolutionary biologist in a country where 73% of your fellow citizens are either outright young-Earth creationists (42%) or theistic evolutionist who believe God guided evolution (31%). Fewer than one person in five (19%) accepts evolution as the purely naturalistic process that I teach (and that is supported by evidence). And so the […]

Michael Shermer and Robert Wright on evolution and “purpose”

Here we have Michael Shermer and Robert Wright discussing the issue of “purpose” in evolution—something I studiously avoid because it’s not only a useless discussion, but also gives fodder to religion. I’ve written about Wright’s teleology (he might reject the word, but there it is) quite a bit, and it seems to me that—in his […]

How (and how fast) do new species form?

Most evolutionists think that speciation, which we see as the origin of a new group whose members are unable to produce fertile hybrids with other such groups (but whose members are interfertile with each other) occurs in the following way. Populations of a single species become geographically isolated by the interposition of geographic barriers like mountains, deserts, water, […]

Dawkins’s answer to the Edge question: the genome as palimpsest

As I posted yesterday, a lot of contributors gave their answers to the 2017 annual Edge Question, “What scientific term or concept ought to be more widely known?” (See all responses here.) In the last 24 hours Richard Dawkins has weighed in with his answer, “The genetic book of the dead,” which involves reverse-engineering our DNA […]

Why do some scientists always claim that evolutionary biology needs urgent and serious reform?

UPDATE: I forgot to add this bit from Welch’s paper about the John Templeton Foundation: It is remarkable, for example, that much of the funding for challenging current practice in evolutionary biology comes from The John Templeton Foundation (Pennisi 2016), which is committed to using science to reveal underlying purpose, and rejecting what Nagel (2012) […]