Category Archives: evolution

Darwin’s kids drew all over the manuscript of “The Origin” and his other works

Before we begin, let’s all recall the title of Darwin’s greatest work, in full: it was called On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life, and it was published on November 24, 1859. (Remember the kerfuffle when Richard Dawkins was excoriated for not […]

New data on the religiosity of U.S. states and its correlation with accepting evolution

Back in 2013 I put up a post showing a negative correlation between the religiosity of American states and their acceptance of evolution, a relationship that also holds among European countries (see original post for figures). At that time, I had access to religiosity for only the 10 most and 10 least religious states in the U.S., but […]

My WaPo review of a new book on evolution and society

Here’s a new book by Randall Fuller, a professor of English at the University of Tulsa who has written on American literature and on the Civil War. He’s combined those two topics in his newest book (it came out January 14), whose thesis is that Darwin’s ideas on common ancestry helped fuel the abolitionist movement in […]

Directional asymmetry: how does it develop and how did it evolve? Part 3. Artificial selection for handedness

In the first part of this series, I discussed examples of asymmetry—both directional asymmetry (right-versus left-handedness) and  anti-symmetry (differences between sides, but in a random direction)—and raised the problem of how directional asymmetry, like the enlarged left tusk of the male narwhal or the higher left ear of the barn owl, could evolve. In other words, […]

Directional asymmetry: how does it develop and how did it evolve? Part 2. Mechanisms for generating handedness

I was going to make this discussion a two-part post, but after writing a bit of this post, I think I’ll divide it into three, as it would be too long. The last bit, on artificial selection for directional asymmetry, will be tomorrow. In my first post on this issue yesterday, I discussed the problem […]

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 […]