Evolution

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Category archives for Evolution

Last week I wrote about a new study that identified a fossil mammal as the closest relative to whales, helping to shed light on how whales moved from land to sea. The mammal, Indohyus, was a small four-legged creature that probably spent a fair amount of time in water and ate vegetation. The authors of…

Whales: From So Humble A Beginning…

When I first met Hans Thewissen, he spending an afternoon standing on a table, pointing a camera at a fossil between his feet. He asked me to hold a clip light to get rid of some shadows. I felt like I was at a paleontological fashion shoot. Thewissen was taking pictures of bones from a…

Feeding Leviathans One Gulp at a Time

In tomorrow’s New York Times, I have a story about some very fun research–the study of the world’s biggest gulp. Some new research indicates that the biggest species of whales eat by gulping their own weight in water every thirty seconds. They do so in much the same way a parachute stops a race car.…

Tree of Life–Lost and Found

My bad–for some reason I thought my piece on NPR would air this morning. It was on the news tonight. And you can listen to it here.

A quick heads-up: I’ll be talking about the tree of life tomorrow morning on NPR’s Saturday Weekend Edition. The segment will be archived on their “Science Out of the Box” web page. We’ll be talking about everything from animals to mushrooms to the unclassifiable viruses that graft the tree of life into a web. Update:…

The New Yorker Gets Infected

I just noticed that in the new issue of the New Yorker Michael Specter has written an article on the viruses in our genome. I wrote about this research in the New York Times a year ago. I haven’t had a chance to read the article through yet, but I was mortified to come across…

Borat sapiens

For my latest “Dissection” column in Wired, I take a look at the tree of life, and the way it changed dramatically thirty years ago this month. To get a sense of what the tree looks like today, I pointed readers to the wonderful interactive tree of life at the European Molecular Biology Lab. But…

Once the writers’ strike is over, anyone in the mood to make a new monster movie might consider this beast, described today in the journal Biology Letters. It’s Jaekelopterus rhenaniae, a “sea scorpion” that lived 390 million years ago. Based on a fossil of its enormous claws was found in Germany, scientists estimate it measured…

The deja vu is hitting hard. Two years ago a Pennsylvania court was hearing a challenge to introducing intelligent design into a public school in the town of Dover. At the time, I argued that people should look south to understand the stakes of the conflict. Down in Florida the state government seemed to be…

Weird Life: Pass the Arsenic, Please

A couple months ago, I wrote a feature for Discover about the intriguing possibility that life might have originated more than once on Earth–and that maybe those alternative life forms were still alive among us today. Paul Davies, one of the scientists who has explored this idea in recent years, has written an account of…