Archives for August, 2014

What would analog genetics look like?

How about another of those non-awkward Dawkins Twitter questions? Although this one actually is kind of awkward, in a non-offensive way. I don’t quite know what it means. Does evolution rely upon digital genetics? Could there be an analogue genetics? What features of life have to be true all over the universe?

Islamists have brain leeches!

Susan Blackmore always lectures entertainingly — really, if you get a chance to hear her, you should — so I can guess how surprised she was when students claimed offense and walked out on her talk. They were religiously indoctrinated, and simply shut down their brains when the word “evolution” came up, and when she…

I think this is rather awesome: a detailed examination of the Cambrian fossil Hallucigenia, specifically an examination of the fine structure of its claws, has revealed clear affinities of the long extinct form to this adorable little guy, the velvet worm.

Why do cavefish lose their eyes?

It’s another Dawkins question! Why do cave-dwellers lose their eyes? They’re useless, but are they harmful? Costly to make? Or eroded by rain of uncorrected mutations? I thought I’d already addressed this in a blog post long ago, but I searched, and I didn’t — it was my inaugural column in sadly defunct Seed magazine,…

Ophelia has summarized a series of science questions Richard Dawkins asked on Twitter. Hey, I thought, I have answers to lots of these — he probably does, too — so I thought I’d address one of them. Maybe I can take a stab at some of the others another time. I like this one, anyway:…

But Mary tells me I have to post a picture of a British bulldog puppy anyway.

We know a lot about the sexy bits of male cephalopods — ask about hectocotyl arms and spermatophores sometime — but would you be surprised to learn that we don’t know much at all about squid ladybits? Of course you wouldn’t.

How we got here

It’s been 25 years since Gould’s Wonderful Life: The Burgess Shale and the Nature of History crystallized the debate over the importance of contingency in evolution, most famously illustrated by his metaphor of “replaying the tape of life”. If we could roll back the history of life on earth and restart it in the pre-Cambrian,…

We do, however, require a formal seminar of our biology undergraduates in their senior year. We must make sure none of them ever see this comic!