Tuesday, April 7, 2009

Darwin's dispersal experiments

For those who haven't heard it, I strongly recommend Robert Krulwich's charming report on Darwin's experiments on floating seeds, the highlight of this week's chapter on geographic distributions.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Evolution in the news

I would like to call to your attention an AP news article that really impressed me (Dinosaur find raises debate on feather evolution):


Notice how the author describes alternative evolutionary hypotheses of feather trait evolution in a style that is very easy to read and comprehend. I think most of us regard our research as being too complex or specialized for the public to understand or care about, but this article demonstrates that it can be done rather well (okay, at least for charismatic groups like dinosaurs, there is still less hope for all of us who work on plants). Do you suppose the public would be more accepting of evolution if they had regular access to interesting articles like the one on feather evolution?

Sunday, March 1, 2009

Why didn't Darwin discover genetics?

Greg Laden points to a new piece in the Journal of Biology that addresses a question we've batted around a couple times in discussion - why Darwin couldn't figure out inheritance. Haven't read the full article yet, but from Laden's comments it looks like the author blames Darwin's focus on incremental change in continuous traits.

Tuesday, February 17, 2009

New pdf of the origin

Here is a good version of the origin to read, as promised:


Origin PDF?

Were we not promised a PDF of the origin?

Saturday, February 7, 2009

In 1977 Carl Woese began classifying organisms by genetic rather than physical similarities.
Probably a good idea……………

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

Beagle diaries as audiobook

Darwin Online presents Charles Darwin's diaries from his historic voyage on the H.M.S. Beagle in audiobook format, five files totaling about an hour and a quarter.

2500 lb snake would've swallowed Jennifer Lopez in a true struggle for existance...


Sunday, February 1, 2009

Bateson-Dobzhansky-Muller incompatibility from gene duplication in Arabidopsis

Or, how to get a paper in Science with a greenhouse full of controlled crosses.

I believe the technical term for this is "blogwhoring," although neither UrbanDictionary nor Wikipedia seem to cover it.

Friday, January 30, 2009

The REAL Reason Ursids Rubs on Trees

There have been several theories as to why ursids rub their backs on trees.  Some think that it's a means of marking territories.  Another, more recent, claim is that bears actually do this as a means of establishing a baseline "scent similarity."  This way, if a new bear enters the territory of another bear there will be less of a chance for conflict because the intruder may think something to the effect of, "Hey, I recognize that smell!  This must be his territory.  I should probably not fight this dude because he has a lot invested in this particular area of land."*  Alternatively, there is the scenario as described in the video; I feel particularly inclined to cast my lot with this theory.

Bear Explanation Video

*Bears definitely think in English.  Didn't you know?

Wednesday, January 28, 2009

pseudo lizard sex


Joshua trees rock.

Photo by Jeremy Yoder.

That is all.

Tuesday, January 27, 2009

Tuesday, January 20, 2009

Another one

Thanks to Simone for the heads-up on this one.


Variation under domestication

As a reminder, we will be meeting at 4:00 pm tomorrow (Wednesday, Jan. 21) at One World Cafe to discuss chapter one of the Origin. In honor of this meeting, I thought I'd post this video of a really cool "accidental experiment" with silver foxes in Russia:


Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Scheduling with Doodle

Hi everyone,

I have created a Doodle poll for the Macroevolution class. The link is below:


Please go to that site and fill in the boxes for times that you CAN attend, and we'll try to find something that works for everyone. I'm also adding this link to the blog. Our first meeting will be next week (Jan. 19-23, whenever works for the schedule), so please "do the doodle" fast.


Thursday, January 8, 2009

Class schedule

Week starting Topic

Jan. 19 - I. Variation under domestication
Jan. 26 - II. Variation under nature
Feb. 2 - III. Struggle for existence
Feb. 9 - IV. Natural selection
Feb. 16 - V. Laws of variation
Feb. 23 - VI. Difficulties on theory
March 2 - VII. Instinct
March 9 - VIII. Hybridism
March 16 - Spring Break
March 23 - IX. On the imperfection of the geological record
March 30 - X. On the geological succession of organic beings
April 6 - XI. Geographical distribution
April 13 - XII. Geographical distribution continued
April 20 - XIII. Mutual affinities of organic beings: morphology: embryology: rudimentary organs
April 27 - XIV. Recapitulation and conclusion

Welcome to Macroevolution, Spring 2009

I have created this blog as a forum for continuing discussions on Darwin to complement our discussions in class. Please use it! As you will learn, extensive correspondence is one of the hallmarks of Darwin's attitude towards science; this can be the modern version.

You can participate in the following ways:

1. Making posts; you will have to register with blogger.com and get added to the contributor list for this blog (I will do that).

2. Make comments, either signed or anonymous is ok.

3. Follow the blog. You can set things up to get email alerts when there are new things posted, for example.