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69th Carnival of Evolution: Darwin’s Day Edition

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.


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Welcome to the 69th edition of the Carnival of Evolution! As February 12th was Darwin’s birthday, this is a Darwin’s Day carnival edition. To start with there’s a celebration of all things Darwinian at Synthetic Daisies, and a letter to the man himself for his 205th birthday.

Portrait of Charles Darwin, late 1830s. From Origins, Richard Leakey and Roger Lewin.

Darwin didn’t know it existed, but nowadays the study of evolution is often the study of genetics and DNA. L. Moran has a follow-up post to P.Z Myers comments on the neutral theory of genetic drift. There’s further discussion about the role of genetic selection and drift over at eco-evolutionary dynamics and a post on horizontal gene transfer on phylonetworks.

Carl Zimmer puts the genetic principles into practice looking at the family tree of the calabash plant while Anne Buchanan explores the evolution of biomineralization; the process of laying down minerals such as calcium within the body. Meanwhile Danielle Whittaker uses mathematical modelling to explore how changes in the environment affect phytoplankton.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) at age 7.

The recent “Ham vs. Nye” debate sparked discussion all over the internet, as a scientist and creationist discussed the issue of evolution. Greg Laden discusses who ‘won’ the debate (Bill Nye!) while  Dr. Zachary Blount adds his own views while discussing his work on evolution in bacteria. Chris Reynolds looks at the debate in the context of the evolution of human brains and intelligence. There’s also a post from Troy Britain, which discusses the difference between lizard hipped and bird hipped dinosaurs in the context of misinformation from Answers in Genesis. Jeremy Yoder questions whether a prominent creationist should be able to lecture in a university microbiology course.

One of the biggest challenges for the creationists of Darwin’s time was human evolution. There’s a post about our ape-like ancestors from The Mermaid’s Tale with some exciting new research on the ape in the trees and a discussion of the definition of the human genus from John Hawks. From the university of Vermont, we also have a study on sexual selection in human populations.

Caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape in The Hornet in 1871.

As well as studying genetics evolutionary scientists also explore populations such as in this study of mating behaviour in water striders. There are also strong evolutionary pressures on bringing up young, as shown in studies of birds. There’s a great critical analysis of the theory of group selection focusing on research on a population of monkeyflowers from the same blog, along with  a post on breeding designs and the use of contextual analysis to study community ecology.

Statue of Charles Darwin in the Natural History Museum, London. The statue was created by Sir Joseph Boehm and was unveiled on 9 June 1885.

That’s it from this edition of the Carnival of Evolution. For more evolutionary goodness, follow on twitter or facebook and check out previous editions on the carnival blog. Don’t forget to submit your posts for next weeks carnival!

All the Darwin images are from wikimedia commons.

S.E. Gould About the Author: A biochemist with a love of microbiology, the Lab Rat enjoys exploring, reading about and writing about bacteria. Having finally managed to tear herself away from university, she now works for a small company in Cambridge where she turns data into manageable words and awesome graphs. Follow on Twitter @labratting.

The views expressed are those of the author and are not necessarily those of Scientific American.





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  1. 1. theo52 7:39 pm 03/1/2014

    With all due respect. Celebrating Dawinism is not really a good idea, afterall the core of Darwins ideas are being proved wrong.

    Darwin had no idea of the complexity of the cell and how much intelligence it contains. His core assertion of “slow and gradual” crumbles when you consider that many system have multiple components that must be there SIMULTANEOUSLY for the system to function at all.
    ie what “evolved” first, the vagina or the penis?

    Darwin was brilliant for his time – but its time to let him go; science has moved on.

    Dr John Sanford (Geneticist and inventor of the GeneGun) said :
    “The bottom line is that the primary axiom [of Darwinian/Macro evolution] is categorically false,
    you can’t create information with misspellings, not even if you use natural selection.”

    Link to this
  2. 2. erbarker 7:46 pm 03/1/2014

    Nice article, thanks for writing it. Darwin was indeed a great man and advanced the science of evolution.

    Link to this
  3. 3. S.E. Gould in reply to S.E. Gould 3:26 am 03/2/2014

    The science of Newtonian mechanics has moved on considerably, would you object to a post celebrating the work of Isaac Newton?

    Darwin was pretty much the first evolutionary scientist. This is a carnival of evolution and it was his birthday. If it had been Alfred Russel Wallace’s birthday this would have been the Alfred Russel Wallace edition.

    It’s not a celebration of Darwinism, it’s a celebration of Darwin. There are some good posts up near the beginning about the current state of the theory of evolution and natural selection as well.

    Link to this
  4. 4. skyhaskins 11:22 am 03/2/2014

    It is amazing that the anti-evolutionists still try to dispute such a well established FACT as evolution. Fear of TRUTH is pathetic. READ Origin of Species – freely available online. Darwin was amazing. READ the SOURCE.

    Link to this
  5. 5. theo52 12:28 am 03/4/2014

    In reply to skyhaskis.
    1) Molecules to man evolution (macro evolution) is NOT AN ESTABLISHED FACT.
    - No one has observed (even according to Richard Dawkins).
    - On what basis do you call it an “established FACT”.

    2) Darwins book On the Origin of species …..
    - I have gone through it TWICE
    - It was a real struggle because it was boring as bat shit
    - It does NOT provide ANY credible scientific evidence to support the wild assertion that
    simple cell + lot of time + natural selection = complex life-forms.

    Science is based on evidence – not popularity – what evidence can you put forward?

    Link to this
  6. 6. S.E. Gould in reply to S.E. Gould 3:51 am 03/6/2014

    @theo52: I’m not sure what you mean by “molecules to man” evolution. The evolution of multicellular organisms took billions of years, not sure quite how you expect this to be “observed”! I’d suggest taking a read of some of the blog posts recommended here (particularly Dr. Zachary Blount’s on the evolution of citrate metabolism in bacteria) in order to gain a better understanding of the evidence for the theory of evolution, or look at some textbooks. It is not simply a ‘popular’ theory, it is the backbone of a lot of bacteriology, physiology, genetics and even zoology.

    The Origin of Species was a landmark book for it’s time however it is not the easiest thing to read (the style always reminds me of Dickens!) and it is certainly not the most up-to-date evolutionary textbook. It is the putting forward of an idea that has since gathered a whole host of scientific evidence attached to it – at the time Darwin was writing there was no knowledge of DNA or genetics, it was only later work that understood how vital the gene was to evolutionary theory.

    Link to this

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