Category Archives: evolution

The newest tree of life: many new groups (all bacteria), some cryptic and enigmatic

We’ve known for a while that there are three great divisions in the tree of life: the Eukaryotes (organisms with “true” cells having a membrane-enclosed nucleus, organelles, and a cell membrane); Eubacteria (“true” bacteria); and Archaea (prokaryotes like Eubacteria, but with genes and biochemistry more closely related to those of Eukaryotes than to Eubacteria). Archaea […]

Templeton wastes $11 million in attempt to change evolutionary biology

For some time, a group of biologists have been promoting the idea that the Modern Synthetic Theory of Evolution (which they call “Standard Evolutionary Theory,” or SET) is incomplete in major ways, and needs a reboot. Their main contention is that the SET is too “gene-centric”, and ignores environmental factors—like non-genetic developmental plasticity, epigenetic modification,  and ‘niche […]

Vestigial traits in humans

Here’s a new video from Vox that demonstrates several vestigial traits in humans. Most of these are in WEIT, but this is a great short video to show students.  I don’t have a palmaris longis on either arm, but I can wiggle my ears. Still, I didn’t know that you can detect futile attempts to […]

Lego Beagle Project passes threshold, now in review for commercial production

Reader Mark R. informed me, to my delight, that Luis Peña’s H.M.S. Beagle Lego kit project announced a year ago February (see here and here), has reached its goal of 10,000 votes and is now at this stage: It’s being reviewed by Lego, and, if approved, it will be made into a commercial kit and sold in stores. […]

The “Angry Cat Man” talks to high-school biology students

I spent an hour this morning talking about Why Evolution is True with two classes of advanced biology students from the University of Chicago’s Lab School. It was a great pleasure to interact with such a bright and interested group of kids, and they had lots of good questions. I won’t go into details, but two things […]

Ottawa: a visit to The Canadian Museum of Nature

While in Ottawa, I spent a couple of engrossing hours at The Canadian Museum of Nature. I don’t have a picture of the entire building (built around 1905), but here’s one from Wikipedia. The incongruous glass addition was put on between 2004 and 2010 to replace the original stone tower, whose weight was causing the building […]

What are the fundamentals of evolutionary biology?

by Matthew Cobb Dan Graur, who is Professor of Biology and Biochemistry at the University of Houston,  describes himself on Tw*tter as “A Very Angry Evolutionary Biologist, a Very Angry Liberal, and an Even Angrier Art Lover”. His Tumblr says he ‘has a very low threshold for hooey, hype, hypocrisy, postmodernism, bad statistics, ignorance of […]

A quick glimpse of tonight’s talk at BHA Humanists

JAC: I have little to add to what Grania wrote. It was a great time. I came early and signed every copy of Faith versus Fact in Britain (no kidding; the Humanists bought every one in Old Blighty), as well as many copies of WEIT. They all sold out, too, which was gratifying. The audience was 1000, with […]

Happy Darwin Day!

My talk is over and I’m exhausted, but it went well, or so I was told (it’s hard to tell when you’re up at the podium). Tomorrow I have lunch with the Other Secularist with Famous Hair, and also a trip to the British Museum. If you know a good local in Bloomsbury, give me a shout. […]

A new paper showing the usefulness of the kin-selection model

There’s a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences USA by David A. Galbraith et al. (free link and reference at bottom) that has a very cool result: one predicted by kin-selection theory. Kin selection, as you may know, is the idea that the adaptive value of a gene (and hence its evolutionary […]


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