Evolution

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Category archives for Evolution

The oldest evidence for microbial life has been found in Greenland, with fossilized 3.7 billion year old stromatolites (layered bacterial colonies) found in the rocks. Here’s what they look like: And here’s the abstract of the paper: Biological activity is a major factor in Earth’s chemical cycles, including facilitating CO2 sequestration and providing climate feedbacks.…

Evolution caught in a movie

It’s a standing joke that creationists demand a complete time-lapse recording of evolution before they’re going to believe it. Joke no more: we’ve got one. It’s a movie of bacteria evolving antibiotic resistance. I don’t even need to explain it, because the video explains everything that’s going on. Different old joke now: But they’re still…

Fins made of straw, easily knocked down

In response to Neil Shubin’s recent paper on the subject, and Carl Zimmer’s summary, the creationist Michael Denton criticizes evolutionary explanations for the vertebrate limb. It’s a bizarre argument. First, here’s the even shorter summary of the Shubin work. Ray-finned fish have, obviously enough, rays in their fins — rigid bony struts that provide structure.…

The mystery of the orgasm

Perhaps we need to think more about human psychology. There’s an interesting phenomenon that goes on all the time when people read about evolution: they shoehorn the observations into some functional purpose. There’s just something so satisfying to our minds to be able to say “that thing exists for this particular reason”, and we find…

Stephen Hsu thinks super intelligent humans are coming. He thinks this because he’s very impressed with genetic engineering (he’s a physicist), and believes that the way to make people more intelligent is to adjust their genes, and therefore, more gene tweaking will lead to more intelligent people, inevitably. And not just intelligent, but super-intelligent, with…

The Smithsonian is sponsoring a traveling exhibit called Exploring Human Origins: What Does It Mean To Be Human?, which is going around the country to various libraries. By all accounts, it’s an excellent exhibit, and they also promote good education: they offer workshops on human evolution to local teachers (they also offer tours to local…

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…

We’ve got an interesting seminar coming to Morris next Thursday. Thursday, February 18, 2016, 5 p.m. Location: Imholte Hall 109 The origination of novel structures has long been an intriguing topic for biologists. Over the past few decades it has served as a central theme in evolutionary developmental biology, in part to highlight explanatory gaps…

But that’s not how science works!

There will be an interesting meeting in London next fall,

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…