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Termites are cockroaches!

Termites are Cockroaches.
posted by Citizen Premier on Jun 5, 2007 - 31 comments

 

Life through time

A slideshow & timeline of life on earth - A timeline of human migration.
posted by Wolfdog on Jun 4, 2007 - 18 comments

"The field of evolution attracts significantly more speculation than the average area of science."

"Nothing in biology makes sense except in light of evolution." Despite Theodosius Dobzhansky's succint description of natural selection at the core of biological research since Darwin's fateful trip to the Galapagos, evolutionary biologist Michael Lynch respectfully dissents, asking "whether natural selection is a necessary or sufficient force to explain" the complexity of multicellular organisms we see today, where mutation, recombination and genetic drift are often overlooked, but critical factors in evolutionary theory and understanding.
posted by Blazecock Pileon on May 29, 2007 - 90 comments

The Darwin Correspondence Project

Darwin wrote to 2000 people during his life; 14,500 of these letters still survive. The Darwin Correspondence Project is putting annotated transcriptions of these online, and they've covered about 5,000 so far, including a letter written when he was 12 after he had got into trouble with his sister for not washing regularly while at school. There's an intro here. See also Darwin Online, discussed here. And the prolific network theorist Albert-Laszlo Barabasi has co-authored a paper on statistical similarities between Darwin's and Einstein's correspondence (#51 on the list).
posted by carter on May 16, 2007 - 11 comments

Slate's special issue on the brain

Brains!
posted by homunculus on Apr 27, 2007 - 11 comments

A Pliocene love that dare not speak its name?

How Do You Get Crabs From A Gorilla? One of many little evolutionary cases Carl Zimmer tackles in The Parasite Files.
posted by homunculus on Apr 18, 2007 - 28 comments

Highly Sensitive People: if you prick us, do we not bleed? and burst into tears? and run from the room and fling ourselves down on the bed?

Are you a Highly Sensitive Person? This trait ... is inherited by 15 to 20% of the population, and ... seems to be present in all higher animals. Being an HSP means your nervous system is more sensitive to subtleties. Your sight, hearing, and sense of smell are not necessarily keener .... But your brain processes information and reflects on it more deeply. Being an HSP also means, necessarily, that you are more easily overstimulated, stressed out, overwhelmed. This trait ... has been mislabeled as shyness (not an inherited trait), introversion (30% of HSPs are actually extraverts), inhibitedness, fearfulness, and the like. HSPs can be these, but none of these are the fundamental trait they have inherited ...
yahoo group | latest research (fascinating!) | newsletter | wikipedia | blog | via
posted by grumblebee on Apr 8, 2007 - 150 comments

The Phantom Compass Syndrome

Hacking the Senses: The brain is far more plastic than we commonly realize. Presenting new 'senses' via the old inputs works extremely well, to the point that long-term volunteers are a little lost without their new abilities to feel magnetic north or absolute orientation. Tasting direction; feeling pictures. Fascinating stuff. In a loosely related article, genetically modified mice are able to see the full color range visible to humans, even though the last natural mouse able to see this way died out a hundred million years ago. Add the new sensors, and the brain reconfigures. [via]
posted by Malor on Apr 5, 2007 - 68 comments

A supertree showing mammalian evolution

The significance of the dinosaurs' death has been greatly exaggerated. This article in Nature discusses how mammalian evolution accelerated independent from the death of dinosaurs. The theory was derived from a "supertree" [pdf ~ 1mb] of mammals and how common ancestors have branched out. Coolest info-graphic ever.
posted by phyrewerx on Mar 28, 2007 - 33 comments

What took you so long?

The Evolution of Homer Simpson Best. (and Longest.) Couch gag. Evar.
posted by miss lynnster on Mar 27, 2007 - 84 comments

Sea squirts are totally sweet

Sea Squirt Regrows Entire Body from One Blood Vessel. Most famous as the creature that settles down and eats its own brain (though that is not exactly correct), it appears the humble sea squirt has spectacular regenerative abilities as well, thanks to regeneration niches packed with stem cells. All glory to the sea squirt!
posted by homunculus on Mar 6, 2007 - 19 comments

Oh my God

Darwin's God. "A scientific exploration of how we have come to believe in God." This article tracks the possibility that belief in a higher power is the product of evolution.
posted by inconsequentialist on Mar 3, 2007 - 50 comments

Evolution For Dummies.

Understanding Human Prehistory. Mike Munford (who???) summarises the results of his "limited study of human prehistory for the benefit of others who may have found most of the available books on it as baffling as [he] did."
posted by Effigy2000 on Mar 2, 2007 - 21 comments

Creationwiki vs. Evowiki

Creationwiki is an online encyclopedia concerning creation science in the spirit of Conservapedia (previously discussed here) and that serves as a sort of counterpart to Evowiki (previously mentioned in this thread). According to the article on Creationwiki found on Evowiki, "All contributing editors must believe the universe and life on earth were created by God. Non-creationists are prohibited from editing articles, except for spelling and grammar corrections." Of course, Creationwiki has their own article on Evowiki. It's entertaining to read their discussions about one another.
posted by inconsequentialist on Mar 1, 2007 - 36 comments

No, not Britney; the pointy kind

Chimpanzees have Learned to Hunt with Spears. While it may not quite be on the level of Dolphins Evolve Opposable Thumbs, it's probably at least a half-step on the "we-are-so-screwed" ladder.
posted by yhbc on Feb 22, 2007 - 66 comments

Flat-Earthers? No. Fixed-Earthers.

Rep. Ben Bridges (R-Cleveland, GA) is in trouble. A recent memo from his office -- one circulated this week by Warren Chisum, a ranking member of the Texas state legislature -- has caught the attention of the Anti-Defamation League. They are not pleased. And they're not alone. Why? Because in his memo, Rep. Bridges -- sponsor of a perennial anti-evolution education bill in the Georgia State House -- claims that "so-called ’secular evolution science’ is the Big Bang, 15-billion-year, alternate ‘creation scenario’ of the Pharisee Religion." And that's not all. It would appear that Rep. Bridges is getting his information (and templates for his legislation) from www.fixedearth.com -- a website dedicated not only to the removal of pro-evolution education from schools, but to the idea that "[t]he Earth is not rotating...nor is it going around the sun." Because you see, it's all part of the Copernican Deception, a massive conspiracy propagated by Christian Zionists, NASA and ... Madonna?
posted by grabbingsand on Feb 16, 2007 - 116 comments

Blood, sweat and tears

Is blood plasma salinity the same as seawater? No, but that proves evolution. "The answer is most definitely NOT that oceans were 1/3 as salty back then. It most definitely IS that the earliest vertebrates did evolve in salt water and then moved into fresh water....They have devised an extremely clever trick in kidney structure to allow salt transport pumps which really take salt back INTO the body from the urine but still manage to use them to produce urine much more concentrated that their body fluids and so excrete salt FROM the body."
posted by Brian B. on Feb 10, 2007 - 66 comments

"We're Not Good."

Robert Krulwich tells the tale of Dr. Alan Rabinowitz and his friend... "Dawi told Alan the terrible secret that explained why there were so few Taron (left in the world). And then Alan told Dawi a secret of his own..." (includes audio link)
posted by ZachsMind on Feb 3, 2007 - 12 comments

What's good for the goose.....

It's genital evolution day! Penis evolution. For my money, evolution reached it's zenith with the Argentine Lake Duck. Plenty more MeFi penis related shenanigans here , including the penis museum.
posted by lalochezia on Jan 23, 2007 - 31 comments

How did that get there?

The origins of the vagina Only mammals have 'em. Why? (via markmaynard).
posted by klangklangston on Jan 23, 2007 - 36 comments

Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species

Saving the world’s weirdest creatures. The EDGE of Existence programme, a project of the Zoological Society of London, aims to conserve the world's most Evolutionarily Distinct and Globally Endangered (EDGE) species by implementing the research and conservation actions needed to secure their future. [Via MoFi.]
posted by homunculus on Jan 16, 2007 - 8 comments

Nature gone Wild

Birds that rap and cows with accents. The big picture is urban adaptation, which is pretty cool. (...and the egg wins.)
posted by ewkpates on Dec 28, 2006 - 17 comments

FizerPharm: Flexible ethics for a complex world

Peter Watts on Vampire Domestication (embedded Flash video, must click to start). The mythical corporation FizerPharm ("Trust. Profit. Deniability.") share their detailed research into the evolution and possible commercial applications of Homo sapiens whedonum. You will learn: How and why the "crucifix glitch" came about. Why you should run from a blushing vampire. How many kilograms of human are needed to make one kilogram of vampire. How vampires resemble two year old humans, domestic shorthaired cats, and lungfish. And why "survival of the fittest" should be reconceptualized as "survival of the least inadequate". [more inside]
posted by maudlin on Dec 24, 2006 - 19 comments

breveCreatures

breveCreatures is a screensaver (created using the open source simulation environment breve) that simulates the evolution of locomotion.
posted by brundlefly on Dec 11, 2006 - 27 comments

History of a meme

At the beginning was the noosphere. The existence of a "sphere of ideas", beyond the "sphere of life" (biosphere) and the "sphere of matter" (geosphere) was apparently first postulated by the pioneering Russian-Ukrainian geochemist V.I. Vernadsky. Vernadsky thought not only that the biosphere had entirely reshaped the geosphere, but that the burgeoning noosphere of interconnected thought would ultimately change the biosphere just as much. French jesuit and paleontologist Pierre Teilhard de Chardin took the concept and ran with it...(more inside)
posted by Skeptic on Nov 28, 2006 - 24 comments

This conversation will server no further purpose, ape.

Dear Fellow Flesh Slugs,
     The robots are coming, and they are hungry. This man may have helped them. Prepare yourself.
posted by Brandon Blatcher on Nov 9, 2006 - 17 comments

Interspecies fun (and benefits)

Neanderthal Lovin’! New research from evolutionary scientist Bruce Lahn suggests that humans and the now extinct Neanderthal species mixed, and humans snatched up a valuable brain gene in the process. (The gene, MCPH1, and Lahn, discussed last year on MeFi) This comes on the tails of yet another new study providing morphological evidence that there was nontrivial interbreeding between humans and Neanderthals in Eurasia, despite the fact that Neanderthals may have been genetically closer to chimps than humans. Contrary to popular imagination, though, the Neanderthal species had bigger brains and sophisticated intellects, at least roughly on par with that of human beings. The gene regulates brain size during development, but its exact utility to humans is still unknown (and controversial). The origin of this gene and the question of Neanderthal mixing will soon be answered more definitively by the, just launched, 2 year project to map the Neanderthal genome, headed by Svante Pääbo (profiled in recent Smithsonian and Wired articles). Pääbo calls Lahn’s study "the most compelling case to date for a genetic contribution of Neandertals to modern humans."
posted by Jason Malloy on Nov 8, 2006 - 26 comments

An Evolutionary Theory of Right and Wrong

Moral Minds, a new book by Marc Hauser, is based on research by Hauser and colleagues such Josh Greene and John Mikhail. In it, he posits that an innate moral sense is analogous to "universal grammar"[Wiki] from Chomskyan linguistics. As reviewed by a Science Times staff member. ...And a philosopher.
posted by Arthur "Two Sheds" Jackson on Nov 1, 2006 - 23 comments

Hello Morlocks!

Evolutionary theorist Dr Curry predicts humanity will "split in two". At the very least this should provide material for playground insults. At the top end, as Dr Curry says, we could be living in Wells' The Time Machine. Only without the time machine, sadly.
posted by imperium on Oct 17, 2006 - 70 comments

The skeleton was first identified in 2000, locked inside a block of sandstone.

Dead Baby. Killed during flash flood, locked inside a block of sandstone. Relatives not suspects in death.
posted by orthogonality on Sep 20, 2006 - 31 comments

The Hive Mind Discovers Aliens

The number of communicating alien civilizations = R* x fp x ne x fl x fi x fc x L. The formula is the Drake Equation, and modern estimates range from several thousand to none but us. You can solve it yourself. What is your estimate of the number of alien civilizations out there?
posted by blahblahblah on Aug 27, 2006 - 88 comments

A soapy sort of solution

The design challenge. After some work on genetic algorithms was accused of having 'frontloaded' solutions, Dave Thomas issued the challenge - human design vs his mutating code to find Steiner Trees^. If the answer is frontloaded, it should be derivable. And now the results are in.
posted by Sparx on Aug 21, 2006 - 7 comments

Whale evolution

Whales are ridiculous, thanks to their evolutionary origins as coyote-like mammals moved into the water about 45 million years ago and became more and more adapted to the marine life.
posted by chorltonmeateater on Aug 16, 2006 - 32 comments

PS. Your Favorite Operating System Sucks

The Evolution of the Desktop 1984-2007
My oh my, how far we've come.
posted by fenriq on Aug 13, 2006 - 60 comments

More Beautiful Women Than Handsome Men

A new study by evolutionary psychologist Satoshi Kanazawa suggests there are more beautiful women than handsome men, finding that attractive people are significantly more likely to have a daughter than a son. Previous Kanazawa research found big and tall parents, scientists, mathematicians, engineers, and violent men tend to have sons; while nurses, social workers and kindergarten teachers tend to have daughters. [Via]
posted by CodeBaloo on Aug 4, 2006 - 57 comments

The Origins and Evolution of Intelligence

The origins and evolution of human intelligence: parasitic insects? viruses? mushrooms? neural darwinism? foraging? machiavellian competition? emergence? or something else?
posted by MetaMonkey on Jul 24, 2006 - 26 comments

who could be?

Against Pandas: "Pandas are endangered because they are utterly incompetent... Pandas are badly designed, undersexed, overpaid and overprotected. They went up an evolutionary cul-de-sac and it is too late to reverse."
posted by kliuless on Jul 2, 2006 - 57 comments

Giraffes, bonobos, and manatees oh my!

450 Species of homosexual animals and counting ... Fascinating Seed article concerning the existence of homosexual animals and Darwin's conception of heterosexuality.
posted by AllesKlar on Jun 21, 2006 - 236 comments

Dogs Love Trucks. Beavers Love Trucks. Dogs Love Beavers.

Do you like pickup trucks? How about automotive history and evolution? Here are some pictures of old pickups, from the blatantly-obviously named oldcarandtruckpictures.com. And since I got complaints on IRC that the wheels weren't big enough...
posted by Eideteker on Jun 14, 2006 - 11 comments

Meet the newspeak, same as the oldspeak

When taking lessons in English from the BBC, be sure to follow up with remedial "playground-speak"
posted by Mr. Six on Jun 12, 2006 - 198 comments

As the designer moves into high gear, things heat up...

The bats and frogs and Montane voles,
The squirrels, bugs and garden moles,
The creepers, flyers and the swimmers,
All hope that they will be the winners.
 
When we are gone, through choice or fate
'Twill be a cause to celebrate.
Will old return or new arrive,
When Gaia once again can thrive?
posted by missbossy on Jun 9, 2006 - 23 comments

Men will be men

Sexual ornaments grow out of all proportion It seems that men will be men throughout the animal kindom, not just our little lonely corner of of it. Most body parts grow proportionally with the rest of the body as individuals of a species become larger, although scientists have long known that visual cues of reproductive prowess are a special case. But is this the case with everyone?
posted by pezdacanuck on May 23, 2006 - 41 comments

metafilter: anti-microbial snot mixed in with a lot of fat and sugar

the origin of fun bags. The age old question of where breasts came from may have finally been answered!

[boobs] first evolved as an immunoprotective gland that produced bacteriocidal secretions to protect the skin and secondarily eggs and infants, and that lactation is a highly derived kind of inflammation response. [...] Milk is actually a kind of anti-microbial snot mixed in with a lot of fat and sugar.

All vertebrates have an innate immune system consisting of molecules which are hostile to microbes. It appears that the nutritional content of the milk is a product of mutation and repurposing of these immunological molecules! Xanthine oxidoreductase, which produces natural preservatives and disinfectants is also responsible for the essential role of encapsulating fat droplets which promotes suspension in water. Lactose (sugar) "requires a specific synthetic complex consisting of β-1,4 galactosyltransferase and α-lactalbumin for its production." As it turns out, α-lactalbumin is a modified (mutated) version of an awesome little molecule that literally skins bacteria alive - lysozyme!
posted by Tryptophan-5ht on May 20, 2006 - 127 comments

Kicking a dead horse with mammalian feet evolved from ancient mammal-like reptiles that, in turn, evolved from fish.

Evolution just won't go away. New evidence suggests the development of the human embryo mirrors our species' course of evolution. This guy seems to be stirring up all kinds of trouble these days. It makes me wonder: does this new information help determine the quality of being human? From the link: "Another supposed vagary produced by the abortion issue is the question as to when the embryo or fetus becomes human. Rivers Singleton, Jr. states in his article in Perspectives in Biology and Medicine, that, for some, conception defines the point of being human, whereas, for others, various periods of development suffice to 'distinguish human from non-humans.'"
posted by narwhal on May 19, 2006 - 41 comments

In his cups, too, he had fitful but almost demoniac inspirations for hidden truth

Another black eye for ID (youtube link): Zoologist Dan-Eric Nilsson of the University of Lund in Sweden explains how the complex human eye could have evolved gradually from a primitive light-sensitive eye-spot. Via Swift.
posted by flabdablet on May 10, 2006 - 50 comments

This is fiction

Writing has been around for a long time, but that doesn't mean we've mastered it yet. Want to make fiction? Perhaps it makes itself, perhaps it makes you... Self reference breeding infinite hyperrealities. Which world will you choose?
posted by 0bvious on May 10, 2006 - 9 comments

evolution of cooperation

evolution of cooperation apparently the evolution of cooperative behavior has been something of a rough spot for evolution researchers. Some guys (Mikhail Burtsev & Peter Turchin) developed a computer simulation that helps to explain how the essential selfishness of survival is not mutually exclusive to altruism and cooperation as well as how these behaviors can arise naturally. (further reading from google: ###)
posted by Tryptophan-5ht on May 8, 2006 - 25 comments

What did one ghost say to the other?

Get A-Life - an interesting read on artificial life and evolutionary computation, from the game of life (playable applet), through core wars, tierra and on to genetic programming. This approach has recently borne fruit to genetic programming pioneer and inventor of the scratchcard, John Koza, who last year patented his invention machine, actually a 1000 machine beowulf cluster running his software, which has itself created several inventions which have been granted patents. [See also: BBC Biotopia artificial life experiment, another odd BBC evolution game, Artificial Life Possibilities: A Star Trek Perspective]
posted by MetaMonkey on May 3, 2006 - 14 comments

Evolution: A Web Companion

Evolution: A Web Companion. 'The expanding universe is both awesome and humbling. When looking closely at nature—whether through a telescope, microscope, or computer visualization of collected data—one cannot help being struck by the intricacies and complexities observed. The magnitude of the cosmos, the power of natural forces, and the extent of deep time, however, alert us to how small and transient we are...'
Related :- The Writings of Charles Darwin (previous thread); Talk Origins; Understanding Evolution.
posted by plep on Apr 19, 2006 - 10 comments

Next up, Alyssa Milano on Fermat's last theorem

Well, this settles everything: Kirk Cameron debunks evolution.
posted by docgonzo on Apr 18, 2006 - 312 comments

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