Natural Selection

Category archives for Natural Selection

Diatoms Large and Small

Diatoms are algae with hard parts. They make up a major part of the plankton found in fresh and salt water environments. Usually, diatoms exist as single celled free floating organisms, but they can also be colonies of several single cells. Their tiny little ‘shells’ are made up of silica (these shells are called “fustules”).

Pagel on Darwin

Mark Pagel, evolutionary theorist extraordinaire, has published an Insight piece in Nature on Natural selection 150 years on. Pagel, well known for myriad projects in natural selecition theory and adaptation, and for developing with Harvey the widely used statistical phylogenetic method (and for being a reader of my thesis) wishes Charles Darwin a happy 200th…

Homeschooling Carnival Up

Homeschool Showcase (Formerly The Carnival of Cool Homeschoolers) #15 is up at Weird, Unsocialized Homeschoolers. I’ve got an item listed in the carnival, which is typical (I often send potentially useful science content material to the homeschooling carnivals.) While you’re studying Earth science, you may want to check out Nature’s Evolutionary Gems posted by Greg…

Allen’s Rule. One of those things you learn in graduate school along with Bergmann’s Rule and Cope’s Rule. It is all about body size. Cope’s Rule … which is a rule of thumb and not an absolute … says that over time the species in a given lineage tend to be larger and larger. Bergmann’s…

The paper I’m about to discuss is a minefield of potential misconceptions that arise from the way we often use language do describe natural phenomena. This is a situation where it would be easier to start with a disclaimer … a big giant obvious quotation mark … and then use the usual misleading, often anthropomorphic…

It is hard to kill fungus. Well, not really. They can’t handle being burned and chlorine does them in and lots of other chemicals are bad for hem. But when a fungus infects a person … like with Aspergillos, an infection with Aspergillus in the lungs, fungi are tricky. To kill an infectious agent, one…

A very good day of grunting worms. Credit: Ken Catania So-called Gene-Culture Co-Evolution can be very obvious and direct or it can be very subtle and complex. In almost all cases, the details defy the usual presumptions people make about the utility of culture, the nature of human-managed knowledge, race, and technology. I would like…

Charles Darwin by Michael Ruse

I am currently reading Charles Darwin (Blackwell Great Minds), and so far I mainly like it. Ruse, as you may know, is a philosopher, something of a science historian, and a science writer who has criticized what he calls “strident” atheism for being too fundamentalist. So that is as annoying as hell. The volume at…

PZ Myers‘ appearance on Atheist Talk Radio was positively Orwellian. Host Mike the Madman Haubrich actually asked PZ about developmental biology (evodevo). Fish embryos? What about crackers!!!! I wanted crackers!!!! And I get Zebrafish! The interview was actually very interesting, in which PZ discussed homologous structures in the mouse and the bat, in reference to…

Plants and their herbivores have an interesting and complex relationship. It has been true for quite some time (many tens of millions of years) that terrestrial plants do not move around while animal herbivores do (though I’ve got friends from Texas who claim that there is a Texan tree that will move from one side…