Category Archives: speciation

The Washington Post refuses to correct scientific errors

Two days ago I analyzed an article about hybrid parrots that had just appeared in the Washington Post. It was grossly misleading in assuming that two parrots of different “species” (they weren’t—one was a hybrid) had mated and produced, lo, a parrot of another “new species” (also wrong). I tweeted my correction to the Washington […]

Not even wrong: The Washington Post botches a biology story

A misguided science story just appeared in the Washington Post. Read on. I will claim some expertise in this critique because my field of study is speciation. Indeed, I literally wrote the book on speciation in collaboration with Allen Orr. But regardless of my “science cred”, Theresa Vargas, a local reporter for the Post, apparently […]

A misguided philosopher claims that species don’t exist

I won’t say that philosophers in general have nothing to contribute to debates about the nature of biological species, but this philosopher certainly does: Henry Taylor, a fellow in philosophy at the University of Birmingham. His paper in The Conversation (click on screenshot below) not only says that the most used species concept in evolutionary […]

Railing about rails again: No, Science, it’s NOT THE SAME SPECIES!

UPDATE: Science has now corrected its post by issuing the addendum below.  As you’ll see in the comments below, author Alex Fox credits this post for the correction, which is gentlemanly of him. Thanks to reader Barry for the spot. *************** It is a truth universally acknowledged that the two most prestigious science journals in […]

Epigenetics: the return of Lamarck? Not so fast!

I noticed that there’s a new book out by Peter Ward, a biology professor at the University of Washington who’s done a lot of work on nautilus cepalopods. (He’s also written several trade books in biology.) Here’s his new book, and, as you can see, the cover touts epigenetics as “Lamarck’s Revenge” (Jean-Baptiste Lamarck [1744-1829] […]

My short intro to the genetics of speciation

UPDATE: If you want a pdf of my article, which seems to be behind a paywall, just inquire judiciously. _________________   The journal Molecular Ecology is producing a special issue on “Sex chromosomes and speciation”, which will contain about 17 papers. Some of these have already been published online, and though there’s not yet a […]

“Reverse speciation” (fusion of species) in ravens

At least a dozen readers have called my attention to a new paper in Nature Communications by Anna M. Kearns et al. (reference at bottom, pdf here), supposedly showing “reverse speciation” in ravens. The paper has received a lot of public attention because it claims to show that two distinct species of ravens have fused back […]

A “parthenogenetic” crayfish reproduces without sex: is it a new species?

There must have been more than a dozen readers who sent me links to the article below by Carl Zimmer in the New York Times (thanks, all!). I skimmed it but was more interested in the published scientific papers about the marbled crayfish. This “species”, if you can call it that (see more below), is […]

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 […]

Defining species: a new but problematic species concept

A few days ago I was interviewed by Eva Botkin-Kowacki, a science writer for the Christian Science Monitor. She wanted to discuss a new paper on speciation in birds, a commentary published in The Auk by Geoffrey E. Hill of Auburn University: “The mitonuclear compatibility species concept” (free download, reference at bottom). She also interviewed several other […]