Category Archives: evolution

My WaPo review of A. N. Wilson’s Darwin biography

The new Washington Post “Outlook” section has on the cover my review of A. N. Wilson’s new biography, Charles Darwin: Victorian Mythmaker.  I panned the book, for it was dreadful on both the historical (biographical) and scientific fronts. You can read my take by clicking on the screenshots below: I’ll give just the last two paragraphs; […]

Duhhh. . . . Guardian touts a “new” finding that thylacines are more closely related to kangaroos than to dingos

Below is the headline of a new science piece in the Guardian (click on screenshot to read it), reporting on a paper that was just published in Nature. I haven’t read that paper, so I won’t comment on it; rather, I’ll comment on the science writing, which in this case is abysmal. It’s sensationalistic, misleading, […]

Did birds evolve larger beaks to eat larger invasive snails? (The NYT gets it wrong)

When an animal population changes over time for some trait, there are several possible causes. For instance, the animal could be responding nongenetically to environmental changes, just as a cat grows a longer coat in winter (this is within a single generation, but could also apply if cats move to colder climes). This is called […]

Hybrid speciation in Galápagos finches

I’ll take “speciation” in this post, as do all the authors involved, to mean “the origin of reproductive barriers between populations that live in the same area, preventing them from either cross-mating or producing fertile hybrids if they do.” Most biologists think that speciation—the acquisition of these barriers—requires a prolonged period of geographical isolation between […]

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 […]