Category Archives: natural selection

A stunning case of mimicry

I don’t remember encountering this case of mimicry, but it’s so amazing that, when I became aware of it from a tweet (yes, Twitter has its uses), I decided to give it a post of its own. First the tweet, sent to me by Matthew. He added, “This is the Iranian viper, as featured in […]

Two biological puzzles

Here are two questions to ponder while I am doing other things today. The first comes from Matthew, whose words are indented: Here’s a question which might be good to pose to readers. Why are there no live-bearing birds? Live-birth has evolved many times in squamates, so is clearly within mutational reach of the reptilian […]

Nathan Lents on the imperfection of the human body (it’s evolution, of course)

UPDATE:  I found out that the well-known evolutionary geneticist John C. Avise published a related book in 2010, but one that concentrates on a different line of evidence for evolution. John’s book (screenshot of cover below with link to Amazon) lays out the many suboptimal features of the human genome. He thus concentrates on molecular evidence, […]

More about sexual selection in the New York Times

With the publication of his book The Evolution of Beauty (subtitle: How Darwin’s Forgotten Theory of Mate Choice Shapes the Animal World—and Us), Yale ornithologist Richard Prum gained an extraordinary amount of publicity in the popular press.  His theme was that “beauty”—that is, the evolution of extreme and stunning displays and ornamentation in male birds—results from a […]

Natural selection against clueless cellphone users

We’ve all seen people bump into telephone poles and nearly get hit by cars when walking around looking at their cellphones. (Hell, I’ve done it myself, at least with the telephone poles; I never look at a phone while crossing the street.) When I almost bumped into one of these metal poles in Paris, I […]

Hangin’ on in the wind: Natural selection, hurricanes, and lizards

by Greg Mayer At the Anolis Symposium at Fairchild Tropical Botanic Garden in March, one of the stars of the show was Colin Donihue of Harvard University, who gave a talk on the effect of last fall’s Hurricane Irma on Anolis scriptus, the endemic (and only native) anole of the Turks and Caicos. Colin and […]

Two remarkable cases of mimicry

Both of these cases were found by Matthew Cobb on Twi**er, and I’ve enlarged the photos at the bottom: A pile of broken sticks: 2 Buff-tip Moths. NW Worcestershire, 27 May 2017. #teammoth pic.twitter.com/XewN1qeBBl — Moths & Mothing (@j_sparey) May 28, 2017 and Leaf Katydid (Phyllomimus sp., Pseudophyllinae, Tettigoniidae)https://t.co/wsKV1K1pkn #insect #China #itchydogimages #entomology pic.twitter.com/6iDP96h9nN — […]

The peppered moth – a video

by Matthew Cobb The peppered moth story is one of the best examples of evolution in action. In this brief video, my final year student Tom Parry, tells the whole story, from 19th to 21st centuries. It includes interviews with my colleague Professor Laurence Cook, who carried out some of the recent research confirming how […]

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 […]

End of the line

You can guess what happened here (photo from Pickering Creek Audubon Center). Can anybody identify either species?