Category Archives: teaching evolution

Teaching Evolution: Sewall Wright: Evolution in space

by Greg Mayer Our next installment of Teaching Evolution for this spring concerns Sewall Wright. His contributions were wide-ranging, but he is most noted for his integration of population structure (population size, migration) and selection into what he called the “shifting balance” theory. In this theory, genetic drift, migration, and selection interact to produce what […]

Teaching Evolution: Theodosius Dobzhansky: Genetics of natural populations

by Greg Mayer Readers may recall that last spring I began what Jerry called a “mini-MOOC” on evolutionary biology. Because I began making posts fairly late in the semester, I got to only seven installments before the semester ended. I’m teaching the same course, BIOS 314 Evolutionary Biology, this spring, and so I’d like to […]

Human Phylogeography

by Greg Mayer For the spring semester, my colleague Dave Rogers and I are teaching a seminar class entitled “Human Phylogeography.” Phylogeography is the study of the history of the genetic variation, and of genetic lineages, within a species (or closely related group of species), and in the seminar we are looking at the phylogeography […]

Teaching Evolution: Richard C. Lewontin: The genetic basis of evolutionary change

by Greg Mayer Our seventh installment of Teaching Evolution is an extract from The Genetic Basis of Evolutionary Change by Richard C. Lewontin. As regular WEIT readers will know, Dick was Jerry’s Ph.D. dissertation advisor (and mine too in the de jure sense, since my de facto advisor, Ernest E. Williams was retired). In this […]

Teaching Evolution: Alfred Russel Wallace: Geographical distribution

by Greg Mayer Our sixth installment is a paper by Alfred Russel Wallace. Written while he was still collecting in the Malay Archipelago, it is a foundational work in zoogeography, in which Wallace invokes a long history of evolutionary changes of organisms, and geographical changes of the land and water, to account for organisms’ current […]

Teaching Evolution: Alfred Sherwood Romer: Life’s story

by Greg Mayer Our fifth installment of Teaching Evolution is a paper by A.S. Romer describing a new species of mammal-like reptile that has a dual jaw joint– the old reptilian one, plus a nascent mammalian one. (In reptiles, the jaw joint is between the quadrate bone of the skull and the articular bone of […]

Teaching Evolution: Charles Lyell: The principles of geology

by Greg Mayer Our fourth installment of Teaching Evolution is an extract from Principles of Geology, by Charles Lyell. Lyell was an enormously influential scientist, and a leading figure in scientific circles in 19th century Britain. His influence on Darwin was profound: in Janet Browne’s authoritative biography of Darwin, the entry for Lyell in the […]

Teaching Evolution: George Gaylord Simpson: The major features of evolution

by Greg Mayer Our third installment of Teaching Evolution is a paper by George Gaylord Simpson, the most influential paleontological contributor to the Modern Synthesis, and one of its key figures. In this paper, Simpson discusses a wide variety of phenomena revealed in the fossil record– parallelism, mosaic evolution, convergence, adaptation, conservatism, variation of evolutionary […]

Teaching Evolution: A.W.F. Edwards: The coral of life

by Greg Mayer Our second installment of Teaching Evolution is a paper by A.W.F. Edwards on the history and logical justification of methods of phylogenetic inference. In teaching evolution, the idea of the history of life is very important. Most students intuitively see the closer genealogical relationship between, say, a man and an ape than […]

Teaching Evolution: Darwin: Unity of type and adaptation

Note from Jerry: Greg plans to run a mini-MOOC here, so if you want some education in evolution, do the readings and answer the questions (to yourself). This is the first installment. by Greg Mayer This semester I’m teaching BIOS 314 Evolutionary Biology, an upper level undergraduate course. The students are all or mostly biological […]