pharyngula

Profile picture for user pharyngula

Posts by this author

December 28, 2015
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…
December 28, 2015
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 school. I started as somebody who was interested…
December 26, 2015
Toyama Bay got a visit from a mythological being, all dressed in red, on Christmas day. It was beautiful. It seems to be Architeuthis dux, and is about 4 meters long. It just cruised in, ambled about, and the authorities plan to just let it swim away. If it can -- giant squid on the surface tend…
December 22, 2015
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,…
December 18, 2015
National Aquarium
December 18, 2015
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…
December 11, 2015
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…
December 8, 2015
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…
December 6, 2015
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…
December 6, 2015
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…
December 4, 2015
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. Fabien Michenet
December 4, 2015
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 common…
December 1, 2015
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…
November 25, 2015
I'm hearing occasional gasps of disbelief at the notion of a vegan Thanksgiving, so clearly I need to show you something to make you salivate. Oh My Veggies That's just an example -- we're having something different -- but honestly, you can have a tremendous variety of textures and flavors, all…
November 23, 2015
This is the sea slug Glaucus atlanticus, called the Blue Dragon. Isn't it lovely? It gnaws on Portuguese Man O' Wars (men o' wars?), eating the nematocysts and concentrating the toxins in those many pointy dark blue frills. Look at them and admire their beauty, but do not touch.
November 20, 2015
A dead pig was caged 300m beneath the sea, with a camera trained on it, as a subject in forensic research. It has a…visitor.
November 18, 2015
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…
November 18, 2015
It's beautiful: the devil's fingers, AKA the octopus fungus. Even just the name is like a barbed hook calculated to draw me in. It has other interesting features, besides the awesome appearance. While unappealing to us humans, Stop right there. Am I not human? Did I not coo in delight when I…
November 16, 2015
My students told me today that instead of lecturing, I ought to show that video of drunk girls and puppies over and over. I didn't. But apparently everyone needs some cuteness. Will this do?
November 13, 2015
Looking gloriously sexy for their partners and spearing prey with their tentacles. Steinhart Aquarium I can do neither. Way to make me feel inadequate, cuttlefish.
November 13, 2015
I'm at Skepticon, and while waiting for registration to open this morning, I thought I'd peek in at the Discovery Institute, and their Evolution News & Views site. So much entertainingly idiotic stupidity is on display. There's Casey Luskin, squeaking away in blithe ignorance about his total…
November 6, 2015
Ken Ham says something stupid and dishonest again. https://twitter.com/aigkenham/status/662450677625569280The fish that forgot to evolve? Here’s the difference between observational and historical science: ow.ly/Ug1wU If you bother to read the awful article, it includes a standard creationist…
November 2, 2015
Jonathan Marks has written a terribly wrong-headed article -- it's embarrassingly bad, especially for someone who claims to be writing popular anthropology articles. He's adamant that humans aren't apes. He's not denying evolutionary descent from a common ancestor, he just seems to fail to…
November 1, 2015
Ecologist Ellis Silver says…hang on. Who? Anyone can call themselves an ecologist, so it's strange that when I tried to find out who this guy is, no one is saying. Try it. Google the phrase "ecologist Ellis Silver, and that association is everywhere -- some even refer to him as "leading ecologist"…
October 28, 2015
The NY Times has put together a lovely illustrated story about data collection on Greenland. The story is prettily terrifying, though. The ice is melting, and forming lakes of liquid water on the surface of the ice cap, which then drains away in fast-running rivers that cut deeper into the ice and…
October 23, 2015
California Academy of Sciences
October 23, 2015
The whole dang conference is available in one giant 8 hour video, and here it is. That's kind of indigestibly huge, so I've been going at it in small pieces. I started with Gabrielle Winters at about 5 hours in, with Cephalopod Neurogenomics: Insights into the Evolution of Complex Brains, just…