Evolutionary Biology

Category archives for Evolutionary Biology

It is difficult to imagine how point mutations, a large number of which are neutral, a certain number of which are deleterious, and a tiny number of which are fitness-enhancing, can add up to the sorts of evolutionary diversity and adaptive elegance we see in real life. However, there are only two possible explanations for…

A discussion of misconceptions in evolution … about missing links, or great chains of being, or teleology (the idea that evolution is goal-directed) has got to be the most fun you can have with your pants on. Pursuant to this, let’s sharpen and clarify our evolutionary theory mojo by considering the concept of “mosaic evolution”…

In his highly readable book, One Long Argument, Ernst Mayr breaks down the body of thought often referred to as “Darwin’s Theory” into five separate and distinct theories, the second of which being “common descent.” Darwin’s second evolutionary theory (second by Mayr’s count, not Darwin’s) is really a hypothesis that could be worded this way:…

Human infants require more care than they should, if we form our expectations based on closely related species (apes, and more generally, Old World simian primates). It has been said that humans are born three months early. This is not accurate. It was thought that our body size predicted a 12 month gestation, and some…

Why do women shop and men hunt?

Or, when the hunting season is closed, watch teh game (the guys), or when there are no sales, admire each other’s shoes (the gals)? This is, of course, a parody of the sociobiological, or in modern parlance, the “evolutionary psychology” argument linking behaviors that evolved in our species during the long slog known as The…

The newly reported Saadanius hijazensis may or may not be a “missing link” but in order for this monkey to climb onto the primate family tree, a new branch had to be sprouted. So, not only is Saadanius hijazensis a new species, but it is a member of a new taxonomic Family, Saadaniidae, which in…

In Robert Gardner’s documentary film Dead Birds, the men of a highland New Guinea village guard the perimeter of the territory, watchful for men of the neighboring group who may be intent on sneaking into the gardens to capture and kill an unwitting child or woman in order to avenge a prior death. But they…

The Triassic is old. This book is new. That is a hard to beat combination.

Remember Evolutionary Psychology? The theory? It’s over.

The Oystercatcher and the Clam

One of those really cool and useful “evolution stories” gets verified and illuminated by actual research. And blogging!