Evolution

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Category archives for Evolution

The Ten-Mile-Wide Bullet

In 1980, Walter Alvarez, a geologist at the University of California, Berkeley, and his colleagues proposed that the dinosaurs had been exterminated by an asteroid that smashed into the Earth. I was fourteen at the time, and that mix of dinosaurs, asteroids, and apocalyptic explosions was impossible to resist. I can still see the pictures…

I have been meaning for some days now to point your attention to my new article in the June issue of Scientific American called, “What Is A Species?” The hard copy is worth tracking down because it’s got a lot of excellent illustrations and sidebars. SciAm has the full article online for subscribers, and I’ve…

A Genetic Gastric Bypass

The platypus genome, which was published for the first time last week, has proved to be a Whitman’s sampler of biological treats. In case you missed the initial reports, you can check out a good summary from PZ Myers (and also take a look at Ryan Gregory’s take-down of the bad coverage). But today I…

In case you missed it, there’s a great article in Smithsonian about hyena intelligence, focusing on the work of Kay Holekamp, the subject of my recent piece in the New York Times. The author, Steve Kemper, spent time with Holekamp in hyena country in Kenya, seeing just how brutal (and fascinating) life as a spotted…

by the old man of the blogs, Andrew Sullivan, and even the editorial page of the New York Times. Who knew a few clever flies could win so many friends?

The Cost of Smarts

In tomorrow’s New York Times, I take a look at the evolution of intelligence. Or rather, I look at its flip side. Scientists and the rest of us are obsessed with intelligence–not just the intelligence of our own species, but any glimmer of intelligence in other animals. I’ve written plenty of stories myself on this…

In my last post I wrote about how scientists are learning about the origin of animals by studying their genomes. One of the surprising findings of the latest research is that a group of animals called comb jellies (ctenophores) belong to the oldest lineage of living animals. Comb jellies look a bit like jellyfish–soft, tentacled…

Weird Animals, And Why They Matter

Today in the Boston Globe, I write about how scientists are revising their understanding of the evolution of animals, thanks to more DNA and more weird animals. My favorite quote comes from biologist Mark Pallen, who says that the human genome would have been worthless without understanding how humans are related to other animals. Unfortunately,…

Click here to watch it on blip.tv (you can even watch in full screen, if you dare…)

NOTE: I’VE SET UP A FLASH VERSION OF THIS TALK HERE. DON’T BOTHER TRYING TO DOWNLOAD THE QUICKTIME VERSION I DESCRIBED IN THIS POST. Recently I gave the Discovery Lecture at Carleton University in Ottawa, in which I talked about new developments in evolutionary biology. They sent me a DVD of the talk, and I…