Category Archives: evolution

12 Days of Evolution. #10: Why are there still monkeys?

This the tenth video in the PBS/”It’s Okay to be Smart” series—and that series can’t end too soon for me—is a response to that perennial creationist question, “If humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys?” The no-brainer response is decent, but it neglects the important part of the answer: both modern apes and modern humans […]

12 days of evolution. #9: Can evolution create new information?

One of the more sophisticated claims of creationists, especially used by advocates of intelligent design—I don’t think this term merits capitalization, for we don’t capitalize “creationism”, which is exactly what ID is—is that evolution “can’t create new information”, therefore, insofar as the process produces organisms doing novel things, God must have done it. This ninth short video […]

Why exaptation is an unnecessary term in the science of form

by Greg Mayer The most important finding of vertebrate comparative morphology and paleontology is that most of evolution is the gradual, adaptive, modification of pre-existing structures (or, better, pre-existing developmental programs, which result in the structures).  The point about pre-existing structures is very important– the history of evolution is to a great extent the history […]

The 12 days of evolution. #8: Evolution and thermodynamics

Here’s the Eighth Day of Creation, or rather, the eighth episode in the PBS/It’s Okay to be Smart series on “The Twelve Days of Evolution.” In effect, the episodes each aim to debunk one creationist misconception (or lie). In this case it’s the old claim that evolution violates the Second Law of Thermodynamics. Let’s review […]

The 12 days of evolution. #7: Why do males have nipples?

The seventh video in the 12-episode series produced by PBS/It’s Okay to be Smart (I’m putting them up in order) is about a question that always excited my undergraduate students: why do male mammals have nipples? One undergraduate whom I taught about two decades ago told me recently that he’d forgotten almost everything I taught in introductory […]

The 12 days of evolution. #6: The imperfection of evolution

Today’s video, part of the PBS/It’s Okay to Be Smart collaboration, highlights the “dumbness” of evolution: the fact that it has no foresight, and therefore devises solutions—I’m speaking metaphorically here—that are less perfect than an engineer could come up with de novo. One of the most famous jerry-rigged and imperfect “adaptations” is the mammalian recurrent […]

Special journal issue on women in evolutionary biology

The latest issue of Evolutionary Applications, a journal that’s new to me, has devoted its latest issue to “Women’s contributions to basic and applied evolutionary biology.” And it’s all open access, that is, FREE. It’s not really about women in evolutionary biology; rather, it highlights the research contributions of women in the field; so the articles, […]

12 days of evolution. #5: Have we seen new species arise?

This is a video after my own heart, since it’s about speciation: the splitting of a single lineage into two or more lineages unable to exchange genes. The question at hand, since this series—put together by PBS and “It’s Okay to be Smart”—is a long refutation of common creationist arguments, is this one: “Can we […]

Twelve days of evolution. #4: Can evolution really make an eye?

Here’s the fourth video in the “Twelve days of evolution” series produced by PBS and “It’s okay to be smart”. It’s about the evolution of the eye: This is a pretty good explication of how to refute the creationist claim that eyes couldn’t have evolved by natural selection, and were therefore created de novo. That […]

Twelve days of evolution. #3: Have we seen evolution in real time?

This short video, about evolution in real time, is the best yet in the sequence of the “Twelve Days of Evolution” videos, produced by PBS and “It’s Okay to be Smart. ” I’ll be presenting, reviewing, and annotating these over the holidays: The creationist canard dispelled here is the idea that if we can’t see evolution in […]

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