Development

Pharyngula

Category archives for Development

The structuralist heresy

Larry Moran has heard the words of Michael Denton, and has come away with a creationist interpretation of structuralism. I have to explain to Larry that Denton, as you might expect of a creationist, is distorting the whole idea. Here’s the Denton/Intelligent Design creationism version of structuralist theory. As Denton says, the basic idea is…

A tale of three arms

Once upon a time, deep in the Precambrian, this was the planet of worms. Well, actually, this was, is, and always will be the planet of bacteria, but if you filter your perspective to just organisms above a particular size, and if you’re an animal writing about it in the modern day with a chauvinistic…

Evo devo in the real world

I disagree with Razib Khan on a lot of things, but he’s exactly right on recent fads in biology. Periodically I get frankly stupid comments that seem to imply that the incredible swell of results coming out of molecuar genetics and genomics are revolutionizing our understanding of evolutionary and population genetics. Over the past generation…

An honest appraisal of evo devo

In a review of a new book edited by Alan Love, The evolution of “evo-devo”, Adam Wilkins makes a few telling criticisms of the sub-field I enjoy. Evo-devo has come a long way since 1981 though the Dahlem Conference laid some of the important groundwork for what followed and was, indeed, widely appreciated as having…

Building a chordate: the notochord

I know this is a horrible photo — I just snapped a picture of the journal hardcopy, which I own, instead of grabbing a PDF from the web, because it’s from 1985 and I’d have to pay to get a copy of my own paper — but this is what I was doing in grad…

Spider gastrulation

It’s my first completely free day of Christmas break! Grades are all submitted, nothing is hanging over my head, but I still got up at 5:30am and needed to do something, so I learned about spider gastrulation. This was a disgraceful gap in my knowledge — I’ve worked on insects and on vertebrates, and am…

The Discovery Institute thinks axon guidance mechanisms are evidence for intelligent design. I think they just trawl the scientific literature for the words “complex” and “purpose” and get really excited about the imaginary interpretations in their head of papers they don’t really understand. There’s no mention of evolution here, nor in the full paper in…

The magical world of epigenetics

Let me tell you the hard part about writing about epigenetics: most of your audience has no idea what you’re talking about, but is pretty sure that they can use it, whatever it is, to justify every bit of folk wisdom/nonsensical assumption that they have. So while you’re explaining how it’s a very real and…

Bill Nye and abortion

Bill Nye talks about the realities of reproduction, and the right wing completely loses its shit. It is not Nye at his most eloquent, but…he’s actually right about everything important. Read this title for an example of the inanity of far right responses, titled WATCH: Bill Nye, Science Guy Makes An Idiot Of Himself On…

MRA “Science” madness!

If ever I run out of creationist pseudoscience (it will never happen), I can always turn to another source, the Men’s Rights movement, especially their radical anti-woman wing. Here’s a prime example from RooshV: Research Suggests That A Woman’s Body Incorporates DNA From The Semen Of Her Casual Sex Partners. Would you be surprised if…