Questioning Consciousness. "To understand consciousness and its evolution, we need to ask the right questions." By Nicholas Humphrey, who was previously discussed here. [Via Disinformation.]
'Race' graphically illustrated - "most Europeans" vs. Ashkenazim (previously; see also IQ & Gladwell, viz. ;) [more inside]
The Moral Instinct. "Evolution has endowed us with ethical impulses. Do we know what to do with them?" [Via The Mahablog.]
The National Academies release their new book Science, Evolution, and Creationism, targeted at the public, which summarizes the "scientific understanding of evolution and its importance in the science classroom." Download the 89-page book free in PDF format (you will be asked for your e-mail address, location, and employment sector first). Other resources on evolution from the National Academies, including other free online books (previously on MetaFilter). There's a brief NYT story about it as well.
Natural selection and evolution in clocks(youtube) - Video of the details and results of a program written to model the evolution of clocks (if they were alive). [more inside]
Humans are evolving more rapidly than in the distant past, according to a new study published in PNAS. "The massive growth of human populations has led to far more genetic mutations, and every mutation that is advantageous to people has a chance of being selected and driven toward fixation. We are more different genetically from people living 5,000 years ago than they were different from Neanderthals", says lead author John Hawks. [more inside]
Dinosaurs preach Young Earth creationism. "The Fossil Finders are a group of eight homeschooled children on a search for the [Biblical] truth on fossils." (This shorter excerpt cuts to the main argument, involving the discovery of flexible T. Rex tissue. Scientists remain interested in the find.) The video was produced by World's Biggest Dinosaurs, the people who now own the roadside landmark, Cabazon Dinosaurs -- and have turned it into a creation museum. [Previously]
Darwin's Surprise. "There may be no biological process more complicated than the relationships that viruses have with their hosts. Could it be that their persistence made it possible for humans to thrive?" [Via Disinformation.]
The Inner Life of an Intelligently Designed Cell? Remember The Inner Life of a Cell animation (discussed here)? Apparently the Discovery Institute (recently discussed here) is showing it in presentations with a new title and narration, and without attribution.
From Ants to People, an Instinct to Swarm. Carl Zimmer looks at the work of Iain Couzin. [Via The Loom.]
Judgment Day: Intelligent Design on Trial. Tonight on NOVA, a documentary on the six-week trial of Kitzmiller v. Dover. [Full transcripts of trial] The court's decision [PDF] by Judge John E. Jones III, chastised the defense's dishonesty and the "breathtaking inanity" of the Dover School Board's policy. Eugenie Scott of the National Center for Science Education recounts the the trial here. According to Salon, the Discovery Institute is not quitting -- preferring now to "teach the controversy," as part of their ongoing attack on naturalism. [Previously 1 2]
Be a Music Faun Yourself. A sign of the popularity of this operation is that in big cities so-called Faun-Clubs are founded one after another, where entrance is only allowed with pointed ears. The reverberating success of this new look is supported by more and more celebrities with pointed ears, amongst whom we can find not only musicians, but, for example, models, as well. via
A Profound Sense of Time. "PZ Myers on the process that prompts the growth of all vertebrates from embryos to unspecialized segments to multicellular animals."
"We Few, We Happy Few, We Band of Brothers." Evolutionary psychologist Andy Thomson analyzes suicide terrorism from the perspective of evolutionary biology. The presentation was part of the Atheist Alliance International convention in D.C. last month.
Ben Stein, actor, game show host, economist and White House speechwriter has embarked upon a heroic and, at times, shocking journey in the new documentary Expelled to confront the world’s top scientists, educators and philosophers, regarding their 'persecution' of the academics who support the non-science that is Intelligent Design. Richard Dawkins and PZ Myers amongst others claim they were duped into appearing in the film believing it to be a film that was to be titled Crossroads (no not that Crossroads, nor this one) that would be a debate about creationism versus Darwinism. No wonder Ferris took a day off from school with this guy as his teacher (NSFW).
"From a review of the anthropological and evolutionary literatures [Edge.org]... there were three best candidates for being additional psychological foundations of morality [embedded video], beyond harm/care and fairness/justice. These three we label as ingroup/loyalty (which may have evolved from the long history of cross-group or sub-group competition...); authority/respect (which may have evolved from the long history of primate hierarchy, modified by cultural limitations on power and bullying...), and purity/sanctity, which may be a much more recent system, growing out of the uniquely human emotion of disgust, which seems to give people feelings that some ways of living and acting are higher, more noble, and less carnal than others. [more inside]
Darwin's Deadly Legacy illustrates how Charles Darwin caused the Holocaust. This documentary, from the late Dr. James Kennedy and his Coral Ridge Ministries, features not only rare, Bigfoot-esque glimpses of the notoriously camera-shy Ann Coulter, but also Francis Collins, the head of the Human Genome Project. Of course, Dr. Collins hates everything about the documentary and claims that his footage was simply spliced in under false pretenses, and even Michael Behe distances himself from the entire production, disagreeing as he does with its central tenets. Oh, and the ADL is pissed, but when aren't they? Anyway, not even arch-conservative websites with "We Need Alan Keyes For President" interstitial ads think the documentary is worth very much. And it seems that Hitler himself had a grand old time pimping out Christianity and denying that we came from apes. (More, more.) So watch the fucking trailer and learn yourself some history.
Guess who's censoring references to evolution out of David Attenborough documentaries? That's right, the Dutch. See the differences; here's a detailed write-up by a Dutch biologist and documentary enthusiast comparing the two versions side-by-side (in Dutch).
Lucy, one of the oldest and most complete fossilized hominid skeletons, is hitting the road. Although not without a little controversy. (And that's even before the creationists get wind of the tour!)
Prime Vertebrae. PZ Myers discusses the critical difference between having six or seven cervical vertebrae.
In Games, an Insight Into the Rules of Evolution. Carl Zimmer writes about Martin Nowak (previously mentioned here), a mathematical biologist who uses games to understand how cooperation evolved. [Via MindHacks.]
Can't ever find what you are looking for at the bookstore? Tired of seeing pseudoscience or pop psychology books in the science section? Join a grassroots effort to re-shelve books to the appropriate section of the store: Biologists Helping Bookstores.
GIANT PENGUINS! The discovery in 2005 of fossils in Peru is challenging previous views about the evolution of penguins. They were tall, fast, and enjoyed being smacked by cavemen*.
* may not be true
* may not be true
"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.
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).
How Do You Get Crabs From A Gorilla? One of many little evolutionary cases Carl Zimmer tackles in The Parasite Files.
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
yahoo group | latest research (fascinating!) | newsletter | wikipedia | blog | via
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]
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.
The Evolution of Homer Simpson Best. (and Longest.) Couch gag. Evar.
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!
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.
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."
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.
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.
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?
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."
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)
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.
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.]
Birds that rap and cows with accents. The big picture is urban adaptation, which is pretty cool. (...and the egg wins.)
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]
breveCreatures is a screensaver (created using the open source simulation environment breve) that simulates the evolution of locomotion.
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)