Category Archives: evolution

The disgusting sex life of the Adélie penguin

I’m writing a series of lectures to deliver when I’m a guest speaker on two Antarctic cruises this October and November. One of my talks will be on Scott’s Terra Nova expedition of 1910-1913, in which Scott and his crew, arriving in Antarctica aboard the eponymous ship, attempted to reach the South Pole. Scott actually […]

A caterpillar changes color to match its background using “extraocular photoreception”: it can see with its skin!

Many of you have heard of the famous peppered moth Biston betularia, a paradigmatic case of evolution by natural selection. (The normally inconspicuous white, speckled moth evolved a cryptic black coloration when smog blackened tree trunks in industrial England; and the same thing happened in the United States. When anti-pollution laws were enacted in both […]

Secularism on the rise: new Gallup poll shows that 40% of Americans are young-earth creationists, 33% are theistic evolutionists, and 22% are naturalistic evolutionists

Over at a Gallup poll site, you can see the headline below reporting the newest iteration of Gallup’s sporadic—now yearly or biennially—survey of American belief in creationism. (It’s really belief in human evolution, so be aware that there are many who think that while other species evolved à la Darwin, humans alone required divine intervention. […]

A misguided philosopher claims that species don’t exist

I won’t say that philosophers in general have nothing to contribute to debates about the nature of biological species, but this philosopher certainly does: Henry Taylor, a fellow in philosophy at the University of Birmingham. His paper in The Conversation (click on screenshot below) not only says that the most used species concept in evolutionary […]

Are our political views encoded by our DNA?

There’s a new op-ed in the Washington Post, “Our politics are in our DNA”, written by Sebastian Junger, an American journalist and author.  His primary data, which, based on the article, seem reasonable, suggest that a large part of the variation among Americans in their political attitudes—conservatives versus liberals—resides in our DNA, with roughly half […]

Pterosaurs: Could they fly as soon as they hatched?

Pterosaurs were the first vertebrates to attain powered flight, and lived between 228 and 66 million years ago. They aren’t on the line to modern birds, which evolved well after pterosaurs appeared, and they appear to have gone extinct without leaving descendants. Often called “pterodactyls” or “flying dinosaurs”, they weren’t really in the group that […]

My discussion on the Jehovah’s Witnesses and evolution

Lloyd Evans, an ex-Jehovah’s Witness (JW), runs a regular video series, the John Cedars Channel, in which he criticizes that bizarre religion and tries to support ex-JWs and to address those on the fence. Last week I had a Skype conversation with Lloyd in which he asked me to respond to a number of anti-evolution […]

Ammonite (and a bunch of other stuff) found in Burmese amber

This find, which was reported in May in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (click screenshot below for free paper with Unpaywall app; pdf is here, and reference is at bottom) is important not because it gives us a bit of stunning biological knowledge, but because it poses a conundrum: how did an […]

ID craziness: Diarrhea and the appendix are signs of intelligent design

It’s curious how adaptations that could have evolved by natural selection are nevertheless seen as evidence for Intelligent Design. Indeed, in the case of diarrhea and the appendix, as ID advocate David Klinghoffer maintains in the article below from Evolution News (click on screenshot), the evidence is not just an adaptation itself, evincing the wisdom […]

Theological policeman? Some history of the Darwins

Here’s some interesting material on the history of evolutionary biology, posted with permission of Dr. Browne. Last night I had dinner with several people associated with Harvard, among them Janet Browne, a renowed historian of science and a professor at the University. Janet is the author, among other things, of the definitive biography of Charles […]