Life Science

The Twitter Creationist Time Machine!

It’s reassuring to know that it’s not just other atheists who hate me, but that I also still piss off the creationists. In addition to the mob of atheist dudebros howling at my door, there has been a recent resurgence of creationist loonietarianism in my email. It seems to have been triggered by a Seventh…

Creationists are much vested in the idea of “suddenly” — they love the idea of inserting the fingersnap of God into every abrupt transition. This is why they are infatuated with the Big Bang and the Cambrian Explosion, and why they flirted with the idea of renaming “Intelligent Design” to “Sudden Origins” theory. If something…

I read an interesting article in Scientific American that discussed the so-called Peto’s Paradox. Dr. Richard Peto (University of Oxford) came up with the idea that if every cell has an equal probability of becoming cancerous, then larger animals would be predicted to develop cancer at higher rates than smaller animals. As it turns out,…

The metabolism of most animals follows a circadian rhythm that differs between the day and night. Mexican cavefish living in constant darkness, lost this circadian rhythm some time ago. In a newly published study in PLOS ONE, researchers compared the metabolic rate of both cave- and surface-dwelling Mexican tetra fish (Astyanax mexicanus). They hypothesized that…

Chocolate brains

The ever-charming Sam Harris has smarmily connected me to Deepak Chopra, so now I’m getting a flood of both smug, superior cluelessness from the Vulcans of Planet Sam, and the spacey vacuous nonsense of the Chopralites. Thanks, Sam! Although, I must say, so far Chopra freaks are doing a better job of actually saying something.…

No, really, there’s a connection.

I heard yesterday that my friend and former advisor Irven DeVore died. He was important, amazing, charming, difficult, harsh, brilliant, fun, annoying. My relationship to him as an advisee and a friend was complex, important to me for many years, and formative. For those who don’t know he was instrumental in developing several subfields of…

VESTIGIAL: Learn what it means!

Vestigial organs are relics, reduced in function or even completely losing a function. Finding a novel function, or an expanded secondary function, does not make such organs non-vestigial. The appendix in humans, for instance, is a vestigial organ, despite all the insistence by creationists and less-informed scientists that finding expanded local elements of the immune…

It has long been known by humans that female mammals can be attracted with the call of a young in distress. There is a famous documentary film of the Hadza, a foraging group in Tanzania, in which this method is used by young boys to trap Dasssies (rock Hyrax). First you catch a baby Dassie…

Friday Cephalopod: I was making mud pies!