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Hyping a lie, Darwin’s rats, the choice of life, and more!
The news media has been awash this week in hype over an alleged missing link fossil nicknamed Ida. As it turns out, the fossil wasn’t fraudulent, but the hype definitely was.
Is this “super rat” an example of evolution in action, or the result of an information-reducing mutation?
English rat-catchers have reported that their poisons have stopped working on some rats. The “super rats,” as they have been called, are said to have a new strand of DNA that allows them to resist anti-rat pesticides.
The Telegraph reports that there may now be some 80 million rats in Britain, more than triple the number in 2007. “New” (or, more accurately, more “traditional”) measures have been taken to fight the rats, such as animal traps, dogs, and even air rifles. The British Pest Control Association has requested the government approve more powerful pesticides for outdoor use as well.
“Natural selection means that when you have a rat population in your town, poison will kill the ones that aren’t resistant, the ones that survive may have the gene, they then have babies who can receive the gene themselves,” said the University of Huddersfield’s Robert Smith. His explanation of the workings of natural selection is accurate; he goes on to say, “There are mutations and changes in their DNA that alter the ability of rats to deal with these poisons.”
So is this really a case of evolution adding genetic information to an organism, thus allowing the rats to be resistant? Paul Taylor of AiG–U.K. responded to the claim with a web article earlier this week: Super Rats “Evolving” in Britain.
For the first time in Gallup polling history, more Americans identify themselves as “pro-life” than “pro-choice.”
It’s what Charles Darwin called an “abominable mystery” and what ScienceDaily says “scientists have yet to solve”: the origin of flowering plants.
An astronaut testifies to the dramatic beauty of our planet—and, indirectly, to the unique habitability our planet offers.
Remember, if you see a news story that might merit some attention, let us know about it! (Note: if the story originates from the Associated Press, Fox News, MSNBC, New York Times or another major national media outlet, we will most likely have already heard about it.) And thanks to all of our readers who have submitted great news tips to us. If you didn’t catch last week’s News to Note, why not take a look at it now? See you next week!