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December 2007 Archives

I'm having an ongoing debate with some creationists in our local newspaper, & thought I might run bits of it here from time to time. First up: mutations almost always involve a loss of information, and never an increase, as evolution would require.

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Blogging on Peer-Reviewed Research Like many people, I've always been interested in whales. My interest in whale evolution began when I was teaching about mammal evolution at Massey, and it really got off the ground when I read Carl Zimmer's excellent book, At the water's edge. Now there's a fossil that tells us even more about whales and their closest relatives (Thewissen et al. 2007).

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Last week the NZ Herald carried a story, based on a new scientific paper, about how evolution had affected the shape of women's spines, resulting in an adaptation for weight-bearing during pregnancy. The paper (Whitcome et al. 2007) describes how men & women differ in the shape of their lumbar vertebrae, and relates this to the weight gain of pregnancy and how this affects women's centre of mass and consequently their posture. The clincher appears to be data from some australopithecine remains that also showed this feature ie this is an ancient adaptation, and one that's missing in chimpanzees.

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I see the level 3 paper had a question on indigobird evolution. This is quite a neat example of rapid sympatric evolution in an animal (& one that I use in my own teaching here at Waikato), so I thought I might flesh it out a bit for you here.

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Just to let you all know - with the summer break coming up I'll probably drop down to just a couple of posts a week. And maybe even a few that aren't really on-topic - still biology/science but maybe on things that are a bit odd, peculiar, or downright strange.

But normal service will resume when school goes back!

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I wish I'd found this page earlier - you might have found it interesting in preparing for your exams. It's a series of images pf reconstructed hominin faces, & a linking story about them. (There's actually a whole book about them - I bought myself a copy earlier this year & I'm enjoying dipping into it now & then.)

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A day or so ago people were talking in the tea-room about a clip on TV that showed chimpanzees beating humans hands-down on a test of memory. This piqued my curiosity, because I don't watch a lot of TV & hadn't seen the show. But today I found a link to it - have a look! I found it totally mind-boggling...

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Now that things are (sort of) winding down for the year, I thought I'd share some gems of pseudoscience with you. This is an ongoing interest of mine & I'm hoping that you'll apply your critical filters to what follows (& I'd be interested in your comments, too!)

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Well, OK, they wouldn't be my bug of first choice. But have a look at this video - would you wish this on a even a cockroach? 

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August 2013

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Recent Comments

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  • Stephen: Snap or is that Schnapps! I'm reading The Drunken Botanist read more
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