Evolution

Pharyngula

Category archives for Evolution

When did insects evolve?

Just consult the chart. Be sure to click on the image to see it at a better resolution! This is from a paper that looked at the molecular phylogenies, and worked out estimated branch times. I like it. I want it on my wall. Insects are the most speciose group of animals, but the phylogenetic…

Creationists are much vested in the idea of “suddenly” — they love the idea of inserting the fingersnap of God into every abrupt transition. This is why they are infatuated with the Big Bang and the Cambrian Explosion, and why they flirted with the idea of renaming “Intelligent Design” to “Sudden Origins” theory. If something…

VESTIGIAL: Learn what it means!

Vestigial organs are relics, reduced in function or even completely losing a function. Finding a novel function, or an expanded secondary function, does not make such organs non-vestigial. The appendix in humans, for instance, is a vestigial organ, despite all the insistence by creationists and less-informed scientists that finding expanded local elements of the immune…

JBS Haldane is said to have responded to a question about how evolution could be disproved by saying, “A Precambrian rabbit”. What was meant by this, of course, is any substantial discovery that greatly disrupted the evidence for the chronological pattern of descent observed in Earth’s life. That pattern of descent is one of the…

Homosexuality and evolution

I made the mistake of reading some of the comments on those last youtube videos. There were some good ones, but they were also laced with the usual grunting assholes complaining about gays and “trannies” and quoting the Bible and making racist remarks about Africans. Let us pass over those contemptible arguments; there’s no dealing…

Sometimes, people email me with good questions. Here’s one. When I was a kid, my own visualization of evolution was Lamarckism. But I didn’t know it. In reading Dawkins and others, I know it doesn’t exist. But it seems this article is claiming it does to some extent. Can you comment? I’m curious as to…

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…

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:…

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,…