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):

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20090318/ap_on_sc/sci_dinosaur_feathers

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.