My picks from ScienceDaily

Go ahead, rip into them. I know you want to...

No Missing Link? Evolutionary Changes Occur Suddenly, Professor Says:

Jeffrey H. Schwartz, University of Pittsburgh professor of anthropology in the School of Arts and Sciences, is working to debunk a major tenet of Darwinian evolution. Schwartz believes that evolutionary changes occur suddenly as opposed to the Darwinian model of evolution, which is characterized by gradual and constant change. Among other scientific observations, gaps in the fossil record could bolster Schwartz's theory because, for Schwartz, there is no "missing link."

Males Have Adapted To Battle With Competing Sperm:

In the context of sexual reproduction, natural selection is generally thought of as a pre-copulation mechanism. We are drawn to features of the human body that tell us our partner is healthy and will provide us a fighting opportunity to carry on our genetic lineage. But a new article appearing in the February issue of Current Directions in Psychological Science suggests that the human male has evolved mechanisms to pass on his genes during post-copulation as well, a phenomenon dubbed "sperm competition."

Unpeaceful Co-existence: How Strengths And Weaknesses Maintain Biodiversity In An Ant Community:

Many species of ants scavenge for the same kinds of food. Why then doesn't the single most efficient species drive the others to extinction? A research group based at the University of Utah conducted a detailed study of ants in the mountains of southeastern Arizona to identify exactly how they manage to share the same environment. The study appears in the March issue of the American Naturalist.

Common Gene Version Optimizes Thinking -- But With A Possible Downside:

Most people inherit a version of a gene that optimizes their brain's thinking circuitry, yet also appears to increase risk for schizophrenia, a severe mental illness marked by impaired thinking, scientists at the National Institutes of Health's (NIH) National Institute of Mental Health (NIMH) have discovered. The seeming paradox emerged from the first study to explore the effects of variation in the human gene for a brain master switch, DARPP-32.

More like this

Oh wow. Oh wow. This press release is simply astonishing. Maybe it is because it has been a long time -- and as a consequence I have a mind for dirty press releases. Maybe it is just because I quite generally have a dirty mind. However, this is the singularly most amazing press release ever to…
Female Antarctic Seals Give Cold Shoulder To Local Males: Female Antarctic fur seals will travel across a colony to actively seek males which are genetically diverse and unrelated, rather than mate with local dominant males. These findings, published in this week's Nature, suggest that female…
It's a fine line separating intelligence and insanity. According to a new study, the same gene that makes you smarter also makes you more likely to go crazy: Most people inherit a version of a gene that optimizes their brain's thinking circuitry, yet also appears to increase risk for schizophrenia…
Darwinian evolution means different things to different people. To me, and many other population geneticists, it refers to positive selection. To Jeffrey Schwartz, an anthropologist at the University of Pittsburgh, Darwinian evolution means gradual change. By the way, Schwartz also thinks humans…

I just trudged through Schwartz & Maresca's 2006 paper in Biological Theory. It's one long stream of nearly incomprehensible bullshit written by Cladists with an ideological chip on their shoulder and what appears to be a fundamental lack of understanding of what molecular systematists actually do. A paper of such low quality would never appear in a peer-reviewed journal of any standard.

Evolutionary change may be sudden or it may be continual, but Schwartz's crackpot ranting is unlikely to shed any light on it. The fundamental premise of his argument- that "molecular systematics is based on the assumption that degree of overall similarity reflects degree of relatedness" - misses an entire, enormous literature of molecular papers employing parsimony, likelihood, and Bayesian methods unrelated to measures of overall similarity.

Basically, the evidence does not favor Schwartz's preferred hypothesis, and instead of flexibility in the face of contradictory evidence he creates a smokescreen of confusion to cast aspersion on contrary data. Crapola, I say.