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An Amphibious Whale or a Terrestrial Swimmer?

Is a recent fossil found in Peru evidence for transitional forms in an evolutionary sequence?

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Genetic Similarity Does Not Necessarily Mean Common Inheritance

Different populations of stickleback fish have parallel genetic adaptations to similar local habitats.

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What a Wood Warbler Can Tell us About “Filling the Earth”

Hybridization among wood warblers suggests “filling the earth” through dispersal, speciation and adaptation to local habitats.

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Mr. Potato Head and Evolutionary Anomalies

Much effort has been expended in attempts to arrange living organisms in a pattern based on genealogy. However, a tree-like pattern is not as evident as evolutionary theory would predict.

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Caenorhabditis elegans as a Model to Understand the Role of Epigenetic Heritage in Microevolution

In recent decades, epigenetics has been shown to be a promising field of research, since it describes changes in inheritance patterns that do not involve DNA modifications and are related to interactions between the organism and the environment. Epigenetic marks are chemical changes that occur in chromosomes and result in the silencing or activation of specific genes in different tissues. It has been…

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Modern Bird Lung Design Documented in Rapidly Buried Fossil

A fossil bird recovered from Cretaceous lake deposits in China shows preservation of some soft tissues, including a pair of lungs that appear to have functioned in a way similar to those of living birds.

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What Makes the Whole More Than the Sum of Its Parts?

A living being is more than the collection of the multitude of organic components of which it is made.

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Pterosaurs of the Triassic: An Update

This post complements an article that was written in 2014. Since then, there have been some interesting developments in the area of Triassic pterosaurs that are worth mentioning, the most important being the recent description by Britt et al. (2018) of a Triassic pterosaur from the Nugget Sandstone of Utah.

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Is There Biological Evidence of Life's Recent Creation?

During one of my frequent visits to the office of my high school headmaster, his individual tutelage yielded a life lesson that I’ve never forgotten. His exact words were, “You think you’re right!” Of course I thought I was right, wouldn’t anyone who thought they were wrong change their mind and then immediately think they are right? Now that I’m an adult biologist, I still think that I’m right. Inevitably…

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A Review of the Nature Documentary “The Riot and the Dance”

Most nature documentaries include some language that refers to an underlying naturalistic understanding of origins. However, the recently released nature documentary “The Riot and the Dance” breaks this common pattern in a refreshing way.

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DNA and Design

Imagine walking down the beach and coming across the words “Romeo loves Juliet” written in the sand. Most of us have experienced something like this and would not be surprised, but most people would be surprised to find the entire text of William Shakespeare’s play Romeo and Juliet written in sand. Why is this? The obvious reason is that sand is the wrong material for large writing projects. Sand grains…

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Archaeopteryx: Bird or Reptile? Or Not?

Archaeopteryx is arguably the most famous fossil ever discovered. It has a mixture of bird-like and reptile-like traits, and was first reported only two years after Charles Darwin published his book, The Origin of Species. Since then, another eleven Archaeopteryx specimens have been recovered from the limestones near Solnhofen, Germany.

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Would You Move to an Exoplanet?

If given the choice where in our Milky Way galaxy you would prefer to live, where would you go? To one of those newly-discovered extra-solar planets the media get enthusiastic about when water has been detected there?Before you answer these questions remember that, beyond the presence of water, many other conditions must be fulfilled before any planet can support the continued existence of life as-we-know-it,…

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Organisms in Their Niche: Passive Modeling Clay or Problem-Solving Entities?

One person’s cultural background can bias their view about people from other cultures… even before they have ever met. Could people also have a bias about how they think about other creatures? It may even be possible that scientific culture could prejudice the way researchers see creature-environmental relations with the potential to bias whole research programs.

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Microbes, Symbiosis, and the Lesson of Interdependence

A very common reaction to the thought of “microbes” is a compelling desire to slather up in hand sanitizer! However, it is seldom realized that the greatest majority of microorganisms are at the very least not harmful, and at the most necessary for human life! Many aspects of microbial interaction with our environment allow it to be so perfect for humans. Some of these aspects include oxygen generation,…

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The Exceptional Properties of Water

There is one small molecule that makes our world unique and special. What is it? Water! Sure, other planets and moons in our solar system may have (or had) water and even more than Earth, but it is rare to find liquid water on the surface of a planet.

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What Is Biology? Part 4 of 4

There is no simple clear definition of what life is. This is appropriate as life is a wonderful, complex, beautiful, enigmatic phenomenon that defies any effort to over-simplify it. Still, most people have no difficulty recognizing living things and differentiating them from non-living things.

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What Is Biology? Part 3 of 4

The scientific method uses inductive reasoning to generate theories that explain data. Deductive reasoning is used to generate testable hypotheses that must be true if a theory is true. When the hypothesis is tested, it may fit well with the new data generated, thus supporting the theory (but not proving it true). If the hypothesis is inconsistent with data, then the theory is inconsistent with data…

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What Is Biology? Part 2 of 4

There are still some rules that we have to follow if we are to do any science, including biology. The first is that empirical data is the authoritative test of all ideas in science.

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What Is Biology? Part 1 of 4

Biology is the scientific study of life. But what is “science?” And what is “life?” Most of us use these words all the time and have a general idea of what we mean by them, however, it is common for scientists themselves to not have a clear understanding of what science is and this is not as surprising as it sounds. Philosophers of science struggle to define their own area of study, with different…

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