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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…

Friday Cephalopod: Big Octo is watching you

Taking a phylogenetic approach to the law

Nick Matzke has just published a very amusing analysis of American anti-evolution efforts. Evolutionary biology has all these tools that allow one to, for instance, assemble trees demonstrating lines of descent for molecular characters, which are ultimately just strings of letters. And what is a law but a string of letters? We can relatively easily…

We’ll have to advance the invasion plan. A scout squad of paper nautiluses have been exposed off the coast of California. Several of the scouts bravely tried to wrest the camera from the spy, but failed. We’re going to have to send some muscle to accompany the reconnaissance patrols from now on — all we…

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…

A couple of years ago, I wrote a rebuttal to a crackpot claim for the origin of humans, which I called the MFAP Hypothesis. “MFAP” is short for “monkey fucked a pig”, which actually pretty much summarizes the whole idea. Eugene McCarthy (no, not that Eugene McCarthy) assembled a list of superficial similarities between humans…

The Haeckelization of Paul Davies

Davies is up to his same old nonsense again: he’s in Australia, lecturing people about his theory of the causes of cancer. Seven years ago, the National Cancer Institute in the US asked Professor Davies to use his insight as a physicist to look at cancer. His conclusion is that most cancer biologists are thinking…

Friday Cephalopod: What the heck?

OK, cephalopods, what’s going on here? This is that weird dweeb from junior high school who was always getting picked on by the other kids, who is probably now running a software company and buying Ferraris like I buy red pens.

The Discovery Institute wants my money

I got a begging email from our good friends at the Center for Science & Culture. They’re going to have to work a lot harder to persuade me. Dear PZ: Wait. Dear PZ? I’m having a tough time imagining any of those bozos addressing me as dear. But let us continue. Intelligent design is a…

This could get interesting. I’ve seen a lot of stories about this recent paper on the tardigrade genome: Horizontal gene transfer (HGT), or the transfer of genes between species, has been recognized recently as more pervasive than previously suspected. Here, we report evidence for an unprecedented degree of HGT into an animal genome, based on…