Evolution

Pharyngula

Category archives for Evolution

Macroevolution explained

If you’re reluctant to drop $80 on a copy of Zimmer/Emlen’s Evolution: Making Sense of Life, here’s a deal for you: the NCSE will let you download a chapter for free, the one on macroevolution (pdf). That’s a good choice. I run into a fair number of pro-science people who think the macroevolution/microevolution distinction is…

Hey, how about these article titles? Comet Impacts Really Could Have Been the Catalyst For Life on EarthComet Impacts May Have Produced The Building Blocks For Life On EarthWe Now Know For Sure How Life Began on Earth We’re getting this sudden flurry of articles touting the contribution of organic molecules from cometary sources to…

Evolution & cooperation

I’m still traveling! I’ll be heading to the airport shortly to fly back to Minnesota, so until I get back you’ll just have to listen to my talk at Gateway to Reason earlier this month.

Punks and anarchists unite!

I’m a bit shell-shocked today — man, that was a long drive yesterday — and I stumbled into work today thinking this might be a really good day to bag it early and take a nap. And then I found something in my mailbox that perked me right up. As a little background, I’ll summarize…

How an embryo is like a meatball sub

I’ve only just noticed that I have a fondness for food metaphors when talking about development — gastrulation is a peculiar way to make a jelly sandwich, neurulation is like rolling up a burrito, and somite formation is a meatball sub. They sort of illustrate the arrangement of the tissues involved, but of course they…

A transitional turtle, Pappochelys

Turtles are nifty animals, with a remarkable adaptation: they’ve taken their ribs and shifted them outside their appendicular skeleton, flattened and expanded them, and turned them into a shell. It’s a clever twist, and it doesn’t require any magic — just a shift in timing during development, with a little extra signaling. The molecular biology…

The wisdom of worms

In my previous post about Paul Nelson’s weirdly ignorant view of nematode evolution, Kevin Anthoney made a prescient comment: Remember that Nelson’s got this bizarre linear view of evolution which starts with a single cell creature, which evolves into a creature with a few cells, which evolves into one with a few more cells, and…

The latest fatuous obsession by Paul Nelson, Philosopher of Biology at the Discovery Institute, is a real corker. He has decided that nematodes could not possibly have evolved, because scientists (real ones, not creationist pseudoscientists) have produced an extremely detailed literature documenting their development; because Brenner, Horvitz, and Sulston (no creationists among them) won the…

Beautiful and terrible

This is one of the loveliest fossils I’ve ever seen. They are the bones of a Neanderthal, found in a cave in southern Italy, and although they’ve been calcified by mineral-rich water trickling through the cave where they were found, it’s an almost complete skeleton, with the bones all intact. That’s the grisly part of…

A defense of ENCODE?

Dan Graur has snarled at the authors of a paper defending ENCODE. How could I then resist? I read the offending paper, and I have to say something that will weaken my own reputation as a snarling attack dog myself: it does make a few good points. But it’s mostly using some valid criticisms to…