Category Archives: evolution

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 […]

Female bonobos (but not female chimps) help their sons get mates

I’ll put this up quickly as I’m getting ready to leave. This multiauthored paper from Current Biology (click on screenshot below; access free with legal Unpaywall app, pdf here and reference at bottom) documents that if you’re a male bonobo (Pan paniscus), having your mom around at mating time gives you a serious reproductive advantage […]

Computer scientist David Gelernter drinks the academic Kool-Aid, buys into intelligent design

David Gelenrter is a well known computer scientist at Yale, famous for his innovations in parallel computing, and is also a writer and artist. He’s a religious Jew, a conservative, and—as of two years ago—a denier of anthropogenic global warming, a view at odds with his scientific background.  In 1993 he was also badly injured […]

Railing about rails: new paper on flightless birds is grossly misreported and distorted by the popular media

Note: If you can’t access the paper, judicious inquiry might yield you a copy. __________ Many readers called my attention to new paper in the Zoological Journal of the Linnaean Society (click on the title screenshot below, and see the pdf here), reporting on a case of convergent evolution— two independent cases of evolution producing […]

An interview with E. O. Wilson: He’s still on about group selection

Matthew sent me a link to this interview with the renowned biologist E. O. Wilson published in The Chronicle Review (part of the Chronicle of Higher Education). It’s generally okay but has some reportorial errors and, sadly, documents Wilson’s continued insistence that human altruism evolved by selection among groups (“group selection”).  The article appears to […]

A 43 million-year-old transitional form: an amphibious whale

The evolution of whales from a small, deer-like artiodactyl took about ten million years: from about 50 million to about 40 million years ago. That’s remarkably fast evolution, especially when you consider the amount of morphological and physiological change that occurred, and the fact that the divergence between chimps and modern humans from their common […]