Category Archives: evolution

What evolutionists talk about: an email conversation between Matthew and me

First Matthew sent me this tweet showing a thieving moggie and his haul of socks and underwear (check out the original tweet to enlarge the photos). he's so proud of his haul. pic.twitter.com/VmnsE0UmmJ — Emergency Kittens (@EmrgencyKittens) November 11, 2017 This email exchange ensued: Jerry:  What a diligent cat! Matthew: Why do they do it? Jerry: […]

The astounding way a fungus controls the behavior of “zombie ants”

You’ve probably heard about “zombie ants”: ants that become zombie-like when infected by a certain parasitic fungus. Like many parasites, some fungi can control the behavior of their hosts, and they do this to increase their own fitness, affecting the host’s morphology and behavior to make it more likely that the parasite will pass its […]

Evolution-dissing, teoleogical, Templeton-funded book gets a star on Kirkus

A book called Purpose and Desire: What Makes Something “Alive” and Why Modern Darwinism has Failed to Explain it“, by J. Scott Turner, came out September 12, published by HarperOne.  It hasn’t sold very well, despite Amazon recommendations by Intelligent Design advocates and Discovery Institute members Douglas Axe and Stephen Meyer and, amazingly, a starred […]

The BBC gets evolution wrong again when describing a new discovery of early eutherian mammals

Well, after uncritically publishing a piece on the new “species” of orangutan (and not even seeking out any dissenting voices, unlike the BBC’s Discover Wildlife site), the BBC news site once again engages in a misleading piece of science reporting. The misguided piece has the headline below (click on screenshot to go there); I’ll get to […]

I’m the token dissenter on orangutans for the BBC

A woman at the Beeb contacted me this morning asking me about the description of the new “species” of orangutan from Sumatra. As I wrote at the link, calling this isolated population a new “species” is a purely subjective decision, as is separating the Bornean from the Sumatran orangutan (the new species, the Tapanuli orang, is […]

E. O. Wilson and Alan Alda discuss human evolution

Yesterday the Chicago Humanities Festival, an esteemed local event, sponsored a dialogue between the famous biologist E. O. Wilson and the actor, writer, and science popularizer Alan “Hawkeye” Alda. (It was cosponsored by the American Academy of Arts and Scences—the AAAS.) The talk, in the large and famous Rockefeller Chapel at the University of Chicago, was preceded […]

More dumb claims that environmental epigenetics will completely revise our view of evolution

There’s an interesting new paper out on the genetic basis of eye loss in cave fish, reported in a manuscript in biorxiv (not yet peer reviewed) by Aniket Gore et al. (reference and free download at bottom. ) It’s also summarized by New Scientist in the online article below (click on screenshot to go to article), […]

For your evening’s entertainment, one evolutionary biologist extols another

W. D. “Bill” Hamilton is regarded by many as the greatest evolutionary theorist of his generation. Although he had some wonky ideas, he also had some great ones as well. (He was a fount of ideas!) Rather than read me telling you about him, listen to this 30-minute “Great Lives” show on the BBC,  in […]

Sydney Brenner: A revolutionary biologist. New BBC radio programme

by Matthew Cobb Earlier this year I went to Singapore to record a series of interviews with Sydney Brenner, one of the greatest biologists of the 20th century. This was part of a Sydney Brenner Research Fellowship from Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, which I was awarded to study how Brenner and Francis Crick collaborated. I […]

A ten pound frog frog lived in ancient Madagascar

A frog that could swallow a small theropod dinosaur? Well, maybe: it was large enough, and weighed in at a hefty ten pounds (4.5 kilograms). This animal, with the clever name of Beelzebufo, was first described in 2008, but a new paper in PNAS by Susan Evans et al. (reference and free link below), describes […]