Scientists again see natural selection in real time

In WEIT, I describe several studies showing that natural selection can change species over periods shorter than a human lifetime.  These studies have been important in convincing skeptics (although not creationists, who will never be convinced) that natural selection is more than just a speculation, but a force that can really mold animal behaviors, appearances, […]

Deep time

by Greg Mayer Seed Magazine has a nice video showing The Evolution of Life in 60 Seconds.  It gives you a good feel for “deep time“: the immense span of ages that is the history of the Earth.  It is especially notable how brief the entire Phanerozoic (from the Greek for “visible life”), the last […]

Skell pwned again

by Greg Mayer I think I’ve been able to figure out why chemist Philip Skell’s attack on Jerry in Forbes was so unresponsive to what Jerry actually wrote: he probably wrote most of it before seeing Jerry’s article!  P.Z. Myers noted a piece in the Eugene, Oregon, Register-Guard by teacher Stuart Faulk rebutting Skell’s arguments.  […]

A brand-new whale fossil

Phil Gingerich and his colleagues at the University of Michigan, the Geological Survey of Pakistan, and the University of Bonn have just described a brand new and intriguing pair of whale fossils in the journal PLoS ONE, which you can find here. Tis whale Maiacetus inuus, lived about 47.5 million years ago, which puts it […]

Genes for surviving after reproduction

An alert reader has written me about a statement I made in WEIT: You write that “a gene that knocks you off after reproductive age incurs no evolutionary disadvantage.” And you go on to say that selection would not favour genes that helped survival after reproduction has finished. “One example would be a gene that helps […]

Is “The Hobbit” a fraud?

As recounted in WEIT, one of the most remarkable hominin fossils is that of Homo floresiensis, discovered on the island of Flores in Indonesia in 2003. This creature was remarkable in that although it lived only 18,000 years ago, when modern H. sapiens had already evolved, it was only a meter tall, weighed 50 pounds, […]

More on the evolution of flight

As I discuss in WEIT, the evidence shows that birds evolved from theropod dinosaurs–gracile, carnivorous beasts that walked on two legs. Some of the important evidence comes from Chinese fossils showing theropods with various types of feathers. The incipient stages of feather evolution appears to be filamentous feathers (T. rex might well have been covered […]

Review of WEIT in Wall Street Journal

A very nice review of WEIT appeared today in the Wall Street Journal.  It was written by the distinguished philosopher Philip Kitcher, who has written extensively on evolution, creationism, and evolutionary psychology.  I highly recommend his recent book, Living with Darwin: Evolution, Design, and the Future of Faith, which not only dismantles intelligent design, but […]

Does science promote values?

In a remarkably frank and hard-hitting article (here) celebrating the return of real science to American politics, New York Times science writer Dennis Overbye contends that, contrary to received opinion, the practice of science does indeed promote values–precisely those values that help one do good science. As he says: “The knock on science from its […]

A really cool evolutionary timeline

One of the best ways to appreciate not only how long life has had to evolve, but also how short the period has been since “modern life” (aka birds, mammals, and humans) arose is to look at an evolutionary “timeline” that is drawn to scale. In the footnotes of WEIT I direct readers to one […]