Category Archives: evolution

Directional asymmetry: how does it develop and how did it evolve? Part 1.

This post began turning out longer than I intended, so I’m going to divide it in two, with the second part up tomorrow. When we consider major organs or features of animals, they can be bilaterally symmetrical, with the traits the same on both sides, or bilaterally asymmetrical, with differences between left and right. And there […]

Why is life the way it is? A talk by Nick Lane

by Matthew Cobb Nick Lane of University College London has just been awarded the Royal Society’s 2016 Michael Faraday Prize and Lecture, which “is awarded annually to the scientist or engineer whose expertise in communicating scientific ideas in lay terms is exemplary”. Nick is a brilliant writer of several books, including Life Ascending and, most recently […]

A new order of insect found in Cretaceous amber

There are about 30 orders of insects (see here), usually ending with the letters “-ptera”. You should know some of these, including Lepidoptera, Coleoptera, Orthoptera, Hemiptera (“true bugs”), Diptera (FLIES!), Hymenoptera (ants, bees, and wasps), and as many of the others as your brain can hold. Rarely do we find a new one, as most of these […]

South Dakota Senate approves anti-evolution bill

Fighting creationism is a never-ending battle in the U.S., and it won’t be over until religion’s gone. Not that all believers reject evolution, of course, but I know of only one creationist (or IDer) who isn’t clearly motivated by religion: David Berlinski (and I have my doubts about him). Every attempt to have creationism legally […]

Friday genitalia FTW

Patricia Brennan is an evolutionary morphologist who teaches at Mt. Holyoke College (her website is here), and her speciality is animal genitalia. As the locus of morphological contact during reproduction, one would expect both natural and sexual selection to act very strongly on genitalia, and indeed they have (see William Eberhard’s underappreciated book Sexual Selection and […]

BioLogos author admits that God is silent, but you can hear Him (even in evolution) if you listen very, very hard

I haven’t been over to BioLogos for a while, but I see they’re still up to their old trick of trying to convince Evangelical Christians to accept evolution while remaining Evangelicals. That’s a fool’s errand, I think (see here, for instance), and my view is justified by the apparent lack of success of the BioLogos. […]

I’m an answerer on Askers

There’s a new app for your phone or mobile device called “Askers“, which you can download for free (and get the details at this site).  What happens is that there are “experts” in some areas whom you can ask a question, presumably about their area.  If they choose to answer it (and answers, which are […]

Professor Ceiling Cat (Emeritus) on The Rubin Report

Eight days ago, I did a taping of The Rubin Report in Los Angeles, and had a great time. I told Dave beforehand that I wasn’t all that politically astute, and might want to talk more about evolution than politics, which is what we wound up doing. It was a pleasant and relaxed conversation, and I think […]

The secret of zebra stripes solved—or so scientists say

Over the past five years I’ve written several posts on the long-standing and vexing question, “Why on earth do zebras have stripes?” (See posts here, here and here.) If you’ve read those posts, you’ll know about the experiments that seemed to settle the issue, or at least that gave a good indication of the evolutionary forces that promoted the […]

The lichen story and the guy who revised it

A story I wrote in July of last year described a huge change in our understanding of one of the best known cases of symbiosis: the view that a lichen is a symbiotic partnership between a fungus and an alga. That happens to be true—the alga photosynthesizes, producing food for the fungus, while the fungus provides support, […]