The Loom

Archives for March, 2005

Love Darts in the Backyard

Spring is finally slinking into the northeast, and the backyard wildlife here is shaking off the winter torpor. Our oldest daughter, Charlotte, is now old enough to be curious about this biological exuberence. She likes to tell stories about little subterranean families of earthworm mommies and grub daddies, cram grapes in her cheeks in imitation…

Dinosaurs Hit the Airwaves

I’ll be a guest tonight at 7 PM EST on NPR’s talk show On Point, talking about the new wave of dinosaur science. Jack Horner will be on as well, delivering the dirt about his mind-blowing discovery of soft tissue from a T. rex. Should be interesting. Update, 3/29/05 9:30 am: The show is now…

Today Gregor Mendel is a towering hero of biology, and yet during his own lifetime his ideas about heredity were greeted with deafening silence. In hindsight, it’s easy to blame his obscurity on his peers, and to say that they were simply unable to grasp his discoveries. But that’s not entirely true. Mendel got his…

Who Gets On the Shelf?

Panda’s Thumb has an update on the ongoing drama over teaching creationism in public schools taking place in York, Pennsylvania. Last year a group of residents donated 58 copies of a creationst book called Of Pandas and People to the local school. The board of education reviewed them and gave them the green light. The…

Tree Climbing

Readers were busy this weekend, posting over fifty comments to my last post about HIV. Much of the discussion was sparked by the comments of a young-Earth creationist who claims that the evolutionary tree I presented was merely an example of microevolution, which–apparently–creationists have no trouble with. This claim, which has been around for a…

You may have heard last month’s news about an aggressive form of HIV that had public health officials in New York scared out of their professional gourds. They isolated the virus from a single man, and reported that it was resistant to anti-HIV drugs and drove its victim into full-blown AIDS in a manner of…

Growing Up With Dinosaurs

I can’t remember the first time I saw the dinosaur fossils at the American Museum of Natural History, but they’ve been good friends for over thirty years. We’ve all changed a lot over that time. I’ve grown up and gotten a bit gray, while they’ve hiked up their tails, gotten a spring in their step,…

Darwin in the Crib

Last week my editor at the New York Times asked me to write an article about the evolution of crying, to accompany an article by Sandra Blakeslee on colic. Both articles (mine and Blakeslee’s) are coming out tomorrow. As I’ve written here before, human babies are by no means the only young animals that cry,…

The Hobbit’s Brain

At 1 p.m. today I listened by phone to a press conference in Washington where scientists presented the first good look inside a Hobbit’s head. The view is fascinating. While it may help clear up some mysteries, it seems to throw others wide open. Last October, a team of Australian scientists declared that they had…

I’ve got an article in today’s New York Times about animal personalities. Update: I’m not ashamed to admit I’m a regular visitor to the gossip site Gawker. But I have to say I was surprised to see the personality article turn up there. Will hordes of New York hipsters discover the strange joys of evolution,…