Tinkering with the molecular clock: which assumptions should we accept?
Do you have a temperamental clock in your house? A timepiece you hang onto for sentimental reasons even though you have to frequently adjust it to match a more reliable standard, like your cell phone or your atomic clock?
Never take your theology from a chimp.
Prominent primatologist Frank de Waal of the Yerkes Primate Center has, on the basis of his observations of primates, shared with the world his answer to the question, “Where did morality come from?” De Waal is an atheist but doesn’t mind it if other people cling to religious ideas because he believes religious ritual strengthens community ties. His book, The Bonobo and the Atheist, asserts that morality evolved as humans evolved. He further holds that humans eventually invented religion in order to codify a blueprint for moral behavior.
Most known dinosaur eggs have been excavated from Cretaceous rock layers, but scientists examining a square meter of an outwash from a hillside in Lufeng, Yunnan Province, China, are excited to report their analysis of a much older batch of miscellaneous disarticulated dinosaur embryo bones and eggshells. They report these embryos are associated with 195 million year old early Jurassic rock, about 125 million years older than previously discovered dinosaur eggs.1 Because this batch of fossils contains bones at a variety of developmental stages, they can draw some conclusions about dinosaur embryology. Their analysis suggests these sauropod bones belonged to the fastest growing vertebrate embryos known to history.
Rapidly occurring “hard-wired evolutionary changes” said to offer game-changing insights for wildlife management.
Ecology Letters has just published the first study to clearly demonstrate, according to the authors, that environmental change can directly cause rapid “evolution” of animals. They say this is an “example of evolutionary rescue”2 in a population threatened with extinction. The authors believe the changes they observed in soil mites should help “predict species responses over ecological or evolutionary timescales”3 and fulfill the “need to bring evolutionary biology into population management”4 of fisheries and wildlife.
Climate change in the news
The Daily Mail, Der Spiegel, the Telegraph, and the Economist have all reported in recent weeks that our collective goose is not cooking as precipitously as predicted. Headlines about the past decade’s significant shortfall of world surface warming have further fueled the fires of climate change controversy. The Daily Mail, for instance, titled its headline: “The Great Green Con no. 1: The hard proof that finally shows global warming forecasts that are costing you billions were WRONG all along.”5
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