Why is the penis shaped like that? [T]he human penis is actually an impressive “tool” in the truest sense of the word, one manufactured by nature over hundreds of thousands of years of human evolution. You may be surprised to discover just how highly specialized a tool it is. Furthermore, you’d be amazed at what its appearance can tell us about the nature of our sexuality.
posted by hippybear
on May 5, 2009 -
On April 23, 2009 Natalia Rybczynski, Mary R. Dawson, and Richard H. Tedford published their paper "A semi-aquatic Arctic mammalian carnivore from the Miocene epoch and origin of Pinnipedia
" in the journal, Nature
, detailing their 2007 discovery of the species they have named Puijila darwini
The carnivorous marine mammal, which lived about 21 to 24 million years ago
, was discovered practically by accident
, but as a "transitional fossil" is re-writing our understanding of pinniped evolution
. It could also be noted that it was most likely cute as all get out
, and is already the star of it's own mini documentary
posted by vertigo25
on Apr 29, 2009 -
Richard Dawkins was recently invited to speak at the University of Oklahoma’s Darwin 2009
series of lectures on March 6th, 2009. The speech to be entitled "The Purpose of Purpose"
quickly grew in popularity and even had to be moved to a larger venue to accommodate the quickly increasing crowd. Of course, word eventually reached Todd Thompson
. Friction ensues. [more inside]
posted by 5imian
on Apr 3, 2009 -
For most of us, science arrives in our lives packaged neatly as fact. But how did it get that way? Science is an active process of observation and investigation. Evidence: How Do We Know What We Know? [HTML version, Flash version also available]
examines that process, revealing the ways in which ideas and information become knowledge and understanding. In this case study in human origins, the folks from the Max Planck Institute for Evolutionary Anthropology
explore how scientific evidence is being used to shape our current understanding of ourselves: What makes us human—and how did we get this way?
posted by netbros
on Mar 25, 2009 -
How To Be A Bat [Life in Motion]
Carl Zimmer has a lengthy post about Bats over at Discover magazine's website. Several slow motion videos of bat flight including a cool matlabish model of a bat flight vortex. As with all flying takoffs are optional and landings are mandatory so they also have slow motion video of two point and four point landings as well as well as some more pedestrian videos.
posted by srboisvert
on Mar 20, 2009 -
Why would an evolutionary biologist study words? It turns out there is an astonishing parallel
between the evolution of words in a lexicon and the evolution of genes in an organism. The word two
, for example, has been around much longer than most, and will likely be with us for millennia, whereas the comparatively rare and recent word dirty
has undergone many mutations, and will probably be extinct in a few hundred years. Professor Mark Pagel
, an evolutionary biologist at the University of Reading, UK, tells us why on the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation's program As It Happens
. Pull slider to 16:00 to start the seven minute interview
posted by weapons-grade pandemonium
on Mar 7, 2009 -
Music is a human universal, but why did we evolve a desire to create, perform, and enjoy it? From a biological standpoint, does it contribute to survival or, more likely, mate selection and reproduction?
posted by rocket88
on Feb 13, 2009 -
Billionaires have more grandchildren through their sons than through their daughters, because the status advantage is more reproductively valuable to the sons. Therefore, it would be adaptive for the mothers of their children to bear more sons than daughters. But surely that can't be; mothers can't control the sex of their children. Oh but so it is
: billionaires have 60% male children. [more inside]
posted by grobstein
on Jan 17, 2009 -
In a breathless, passionate, yet level-headed 15 part series, YouTube user, paleontologist, ex-Christian, and potential Space Coyote
presents an uncommonly well-written and presented argument against what he identifies as the 14 "Fundamental Falsehoods of Creationism." [more inside]
posted by Mr. Anthropomorphism
on Jan 13, 2009 -
The Orienting Stone.
"A snowy white stone that gives shape to the universe: as it happens, we all carry within our skulls the vestige of such a thing, a kind of existentially reversed qibla
(this one perspectival, the other metaphysical) that gives us our sense of being at the center of things, the sense that we are upright at the origin point of a three-dimensional space..." [Via]
posted by homunculus
on Dec 3, 2008 -
"We were looking for pretty animals that have eyes, are coloured, or glow in the dark; instead, the most interesting find was the organism that was blind, brainless, and completely covered in mud." Some of the oldest fossil records may need to be reconsidered: Dr. Mikhail Matz of the University of Texas has discovered Gromia Sphaerica
, a species of protist
, making tracks
.... [more inside]
posted by Kronos_to_Earth
on Nov 22, 2008 -
Evidence of a Global SuperOrganism.
"My hypothesis is this: The rapidly increasing sum of all computational devices in the world connected online, including wirelessly, forms a superorganism of computation with its own emergent behaviors." [Via]
posted by homunculus
on Oct 26, 2008 -
How We Evolve:
"A growing number of scientists argue that human culture itself has become the foremost agent of biological change, making us — for the past 10,000 years or so — the inadvertent architects of our own future selves." [more inside]
posted by homunculus
on Oct 9, 2008 -
"Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still.
" The comments are included on a Church of England website promoting the views of Charles Darwin to be launched on Monday.
posted by finite
on Sep 14, 2008 -
Sex at the Olympics.
"I am often asked if the Olympic village . . . is the sex-fest it is cracked up to be. My answer is always the same: too right it is." Table tennis Olympian Matthew Syed
dishes the dirt. (possibly NSFW, TimesOnline).
posted by fourcheesemac
on Aug 23, 2008 -
The Victorian Web
is your one-stop resource for England in the Victorian era (1837-1901). The site is much too extensive to give but a flavor. It is divided into 20 categories, including Technology
, Gender Matters
, Economic Contexts
, Political History
, Theater and Popular Entertainment
and Genre and Technique
. Here are a few examples of the articles inside: Inventions in Alice in Wonderland
, The Role of the Victorian Army
, Earth Yenneps: Victorian Back Slang
(and a glossary
of same), Algernon Charles Swinburne and the Philosophy of Androgyny, Hermaphrodeity, and Victorian Sexual Mores
, Evolution, progress and natural laws
and, of course, Queen Victoria
posted by Kattullus
on Jul 28, 2008 -