Category Archives: evolution

Hybrid speciation might be rare

Data show that the “normal” mode of speciation—the process in which one lineage divides into two or more species—involves the geographic isolation of populations of a single species. Over time, natural selection (and genetic drift) causes those populations to become more and more genetically different. When the genetic differentiation has gone to the extent that the separate populations […]

Is evolution “contingent” or repeatable?

Aeon is a nonprofit science and technology magazine that occasionally has some good pieces, though I’m not a frequent reader. However, several readers called my attention to a new piece by Dan Falk, a Canadian science writer, about whether or not human evolution was inevitable. Click the screenshot to go to the article: Falk poses […]

The evolutionary level of human violence

There’s a new paper in Nature about the level of intraspecific violence in humans and other species, written by José Maria Gómez et al. (free reference and download below).  The question is how often members of single species kill each other in the wild, and whether humans are outliers. It’s already gotten a lot of attention in the press, […]

Scientific fame—Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin: the Wikipedia page hit data

JAC:  Last week my friend Andrew Berry, a lecturer at Harvard and expert on Darwin and, especially, Alfred Russel Wallace, was telling me about some interesting data he’d gleaned from Wikipedia about the two Fathers of Evolution. I suggested he write it up as a post for this site, and he kindly obliged: Scientific Fame […]

Texas blind salamander has optic nerves but no real eyes

This is the kind of post I originally intended to go on this site. When I started this website, I thought that every few weeks I’d publish a bit of new (or old) evidence for evolution, supporting Why Evolution Is True, which was a new book in 2009. Well, as you see, things kind of […]

Yahoo news claims evolution “just got harder to defend”. Nope.

This headline, with a link to the full article by Eric Metaxas (who, after C.S. Lewis, describes himself as a “mere Christian”), was on the front page of Yahoo News yesterday (click screenshot to go there): To see the full “argument,” such as it is, you have to go to the conservative news service, which took […]

Jeremy England: the next Charles Darwin?

A reader whose email I’ve lost (sorry) sent me a link to this provocatively titled article from “Jeremy England, the man who may one-up Darwin.” Well, I had to look that up, for I’ve seen claims of one-upping Darwin many times in my career, but I’ve heard a lot lately about this England fellow. […]

A new paper confidently claims that there are four giraffe species rather than one, but I’m not so sure

The giraffe, Giraffa cameleopardalis, was first described by Linnaeus, and gets its species name from its fancied resemblance to a hybrid beast (as Wikipedia notes, the name comes from the Greek καμηλοπάρδαλις” meaning “giraffe”, from “κάμηλος” (kamēlos), “camel” + “πάρδαλις” (pardalis), “leopard”, due to its having a long neck like a camel and spots like a leopard). It’s always […]

NPR’s Barbara King dismisses Tom Wolfe’s knowledge of evolution, but still recommends reading his new book

Barbara King, a retired anthropology professor at William and Mary (my alma mater), has a regular column at National Public Radio’s (NPR’s), Cosmos & Culture site.  The column this week, “Evolution uproar: What to do when a famous author dismisses Darwin, ” is devoted to Tom Wolfe’s new book The Kingdom Of Speech, which I reviewed […]

The creationist’s nightmare: evolution in action

Over at the Atlantic, Ed Yong shows and describes some stunning videos of “evolution in action”: in this case bacteria evolving resistance to antibiotics. It’s a clever way to visualize the accumulation of mutations over time as bacteria evolve to survive increasingly large doses of antibiotics. Beyond this demonstration, the experiment also permits serious scientific study of the nature […]