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 […]

Darwin’s Valentine

by Greg Mayer I was given this by a colleague in the university cafeteria today. I don’t know where the original came from, but I like to think it was recently found among the papers of Emma Darwin. [JAC: It would be even better if it said “I naturally select you”!]

Darwin’s pet tortoise

by Greg Mayer (addendum below) Darwin lived in the country, and had many animals– for companionship, work, and research. For companions, his chief pets were d*gs (my favorite of Darwin’s d*gs was Bob), but he also had a tortoise that he brought home from James (Santiago) Island in the Galapagos. It has been claimed (most […]

Guest post: Darwin and Wallace at Burlington House

In honor of Wallace Year, Greg Mayer is doing a series of posts on The Man Who Came Second. This essay gives Greg’s take on the rivalry between Darwin and Wallace about the discovery of natural selection, and how it was resolved. _____________________ Darwin and Wallace at Burlington House by Greg Mayer The theory of […]

Darwin did not cheat Wallace out of his rightful place in history

by Greg Mayer Before writing my notice of John van Wyhe’s new book on Wallace, Dispelling the Darkness, I hadn’t come across this piece by him on Wallace in last week’s Guardian. The piece addresses and dispels the claim, advanced a number of times over the years—especially in popular media—that Darwin stole his ideas from Wallace, […]

Island faunas and the Falkland Islands fox

by Greg Mayer The evidence from biogeography is arguably the most important evidence for evolution. P.J. Darlington, perhaps the greatest zoogeographer of the 20th century, said that zoogeography showed Darwin evolution. And Jerry has long insisted that biogeography is at least among, if not the, most persuasive evidence for evolution. It was thus with great […]

Why is Darwin more famous than Wallace?

by Greg Mayer The first publication of natural selection as a general mechanism of evolutionary change was a joint paper by Darwin and Wallace read to the Linnean Society in 1858. It was not a coauthored paper, but rather the simultaneous publication under a single heading of separate works by the two authors. So why […]

Darwin for Congress!

by Greg Mayer You’ll remember Congressman Paul Broun (R-Georgia), who infamously called embryology, the big bang, and evolution “lies from the pit of hell.” He was re-elected on Tuesday, running unopposed, but his statements did inspire a write-in campaign for an unlikely opponent: an Englishman, and a dead one at that– Charles Darwin! According to […]

Caturday Felid: Lincoln and cats

by Greg Mayer During this 150th anniversary of the start of the Civil War, it is edifying to recall that Abraham Lincoln was not only a great president, but a great cat-lover.  “Disunion”, the NY Times series on the 150th anniversary  (which is generally quite good), in a piece on regimental mascots and pets, notes […]

Solenodons on the BBC

by Greg Mayer BBC reporter Rebecca Morelle has been hot on the trail of the nearly extinct Hispaniolan solenodon in the mountains of the Dominican Republic. (There is another living species of solenodon in Cuba.) Here’s what they look like. The BBC pursued them along with Dominican and British scientists, breathlessly recording their hopes of […]