Category Archives: evolution

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 […]

The occasionally marine iguana

by Greg Mayer Matthew sent me and Jerry this Tweet from PADI, of a wonderful video clip by Turtle & Ray Productions in Curaรงao. It reminded Matthew of mosasaurs, an extinct group of giant marine lizards from the Mesozoic. It's not everyday you spot a land iguana roaming the reef in Curaรงao ๐ŸฆŽ. ๐ŸŽฅ : […]

Remarkable new Cambrian fossils comparable to those of the Burgess shale

Greetings from Amsterdam! I want to call your attention to a remarkable new fossil find in southern China; a rich group of soft-bodied animals, the “Qingjiang Fauna”, from about 518 million years ago. It’s comparable in importance to the Burgess Shale fauna popularized by Steve Gould’s book Wonderful Life, and to the Chengjiang fauna China […]

The evolution of “irreducibly complex” antifreeze proteins in a polar fish (and a fish-slap at Behe)

A new paper in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences shows how a functional protein (an antifreeze protein in the blood of an Arctic fish) can be assembled out of scraps of genome that have no function at all. Moreover, the protein doesn’t become functionalโ€”e.g., being secreted into the fish blood to keep it […]

Rich Lenski takes down Michael Behe and his ID creationism: Part IV

Rich Lenski, an evolutionary biologist at Michigan State, has put up his fourth (and penultimate) post on his website (Telliamed Revisited) criticizing Michael Behe’s new Intelligent Design book, Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution. You can see the post, which is his most thorough yet, by clicking on the website below. […]

Retraction Watch highlights the paper I got retracted

Yesterday we were headliners at the watchdog site Retraction Watch (RW). This time it was about the creationist paper by Sarah Umer that was published in The International Journal of Ethnology and Anthropology, a Springer journal.ย  I complained bitterly about it on a post on this site, and then kvetched to the journal itself. They […]

Selection for temperature regulation may drive the evolution of egg color in birds

A new paper in BioRฯ‡iv, submitted but not yet accepted, suggests that in some parts of the world the color of bird eggs may reflect selection for temperature regulation. In short: in colder northern climes, eggs may be darker because it helps them absorb sunlight and stay warm, a crucial factor in keeping embryos warm […]

The recurrent laryngeal nerve as evidence for evolution

On pages 82-84 of Why Evolution is True I discuss the recurrent laryngeal nerve of humans (and other tetrapods) as an example of evolution. It’s evidence via “retrodiction”, which is what I call the situation when a previously unexplained and puzzling phenomenon can be understood only in light of a theory, thus supporting that theoryโ€”in […]

Rich Lenski continues his demolition of Michael Behe’s new book

As you probably know from reading this site, ID creationist Michael Behe has a new book coming out this week: Darwin Devolves: The New Science About DNA That Challenges Evolution (note the unclear antecedent, which could be either “New Science” or “DNA”).ย  Various scientists have weighed in, none of them positively, and there’s been considerable […]

Once again: Why do zebras have stripes? (And once again the answer: it’s the flies, stupid!)

Over the past three years I’ve written about research, mostly by Tim Caro’s group, dealing with the perpetual question: “Why do zebras have stripes?” (See earlier posts here, here, and here.) There used to be lots of hypotheses, including confusing predators like lions, aiding thermoregulation, camouflaging these equids, keeping groups together, and so on, but […]