Prolonged milk provisioning in a jumping spider
A jumping spider has been discovered to produce a kind of milk to nourish its babies, in a manner similar to what mammals do.
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.
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.
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…
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.
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.
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…
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.
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…
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.
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.
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,…
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.
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…
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.
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…
Teeming Creatures of the Sea!
The number of different kinds of living organisms is one measure of biological diversity, or what has become known as “biodiversity.” Our world’s oceans have the highest known biodiversity, second only to the number of species found in the tropical rainforest.
Red in Tooth and Claw
During 1833, Arthur Henry Hallam died suddenly and unexpectedly. This would be one of those sad but unremarkable facts of history were it not for his close friendship with Alfred Lord Tennyson. Tennyson spent the next 17 years struggling with the death of his friend. During this time, Tennyson composed “In Memoriam,” a long poem that wrestles with the shock, sadness and despair he experienced and his…
Creation, Flood and Biogeography: Part 3
The third part of this series on biogeography examines how the flood might have influenced the present patterns of distributions of various types of living organisms.
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