What is special about humans?

As soon as somebody asks the question “what is a ____?” we get into trouble. Not because we do not know about the thing in the blank, but because we tend to have the wrong idea about how to answer that question. Since the Greeks, the general feeling is that to answer a question about …

Tree of Life

From Evogeneao:

This Tree of Life diagram is based primarily on the evolutionary relationships so wonderfully related in Dr. Richard Dawkins’ The Ancestor’s Tale, and timetree.org. The smallest branches are purely illustrative. They are intended to suggest the effect of mass extinctions on diversity, and changes in diversity through time. This diagram is NOT intended to be a scholarly reference tool! It is intended to be an easy-to-understand illustration of the core evolution principle; we are related not only to every living thing, but also to everything that has ever lived on Earth.

Design-wise, there are many things that could’ve made the graphic more readable, but something about it makes me like it just the way it is.

Tags: ,

The XV Collection: Perverse Outcomes of Novel Therapies

  The XV Collection: Perverse Outcomes of Novel Therapies Posted August 10, 2018 by post-info by Andrew Read Yale professor Steve Stearns once warned that the transition from Young Turk to Old Turkey happens quickly.

PLOS Biology in the media – July

  PLOS Biology in the media – July   post-info The year is flying past, and July has been another month with several of our papers making the news. This month we’re covering sleeping flies,

What was Darwin’s Origin actually called

So, I got caught parroting half-remembered factoids, to Down House no less, that the Origin dropped the “On” from the start of the title with the fourth edition. In my defence, I was making use of Darwin Online, the Cambridge University site that collates all of Darwin’s publications and a whole lot more, in their list …

The Rollercoaster of Exploding Pollen

  When I think about reading peer-reviewed natural history papers — including contemporary articles in a ‘Natural History Miscellany Note’ or ‘The Scientific Naturalist’ section — I imagine them mostly as a classic throwback: just

Vintage chart shows the evolution in design of everyday objects

By Raymond Loewy, this chart from 1934 shows the shifts in design of the car, telephone, and clock, among other things. I assume someone is already working on updating this one to the present. [via @michaelbierut]

Tags: , ,

Superstition and the fossil record

Superstition is not without value. Generally held beliefs give apparent order and coherence to human communities, qualities that are valued by some persons, especially those with a vested interest in the order and coherence that might prevail during a certain era of human history. Without apparent order and coherence, there would be no conventional wisdom, …

Mark Twain and The Big Stump: Can We Save Nature From Ourselves?

  As you enter Kings Canyon and Sequoia National Park from highway 180 there is a small little parking lot to the side with a couple of bathrooms and a non-descript, standard-issue, brown, wooden park