Evolution Round Up

On the Basics

John Wilkins, What Is A Species?
The history and new emerging consensus on an old evolutionary consensus: on the origin of species

Todd Oakley, Coming to Grips with Common Descent
The real biggie in Darwin’s theory—common descent and the importance of phylogeny to understanding life

Robin Marantz Henig, Resolving Evolution’s Greatest Paradox
Marc Kirschner, systems biology, and how to get complexity from small, gradual changes. Also, the constraints on phenotypic variation enable evolutionary change. Includes a video.

PZ Myers, Historical Contingency in the Evolution of E. coli
Complex novelties can evolve, but depend not just on hopeful monsters but also the genetic background of the population

Andrew Brown, The Kindness of Strangers
Excellent biography of Robert Trivers, wunderkind of evolutionary theory

Neil Shubin, Your Inner Fish
Podcast with the author, curator at Chicago’s Field Museum of Natural History, of the same-titled book

Mo at Neurophilosophy, Synapse Proteomics and Brain Evolution
Synapses and their role in the history of life

On Humans and Other Primates

Randolph Nesse & Stephen Stearns, The Great Opportunity: Evolutionary Applications to Medicine and Health
Open-access article by two of the biggest names in evolutionary medicine in inaugural issue of the peer-reviewed Evolutionary Applications

Sarah Brosnan et al., Chimpanzee Autarky
Do chimps barter ? A PLOS article on social evolution and natural selection

Alexandra Rosati et al., The Evolutionary Origins of Human Patience: Temporal Preferences in Chimpanzees, Bonobos, and Human Adults
Adaptive choices and the importance of waiting. For an article summary, see this pdf review by Hayden and Platt

Kambiz Kamrani, What Is Unique about the Human Arcuate Fasciculus… And What Does It Have to Do with Language?
White matter and gesturing unite! Good summary of research by Jim Rilling and by Jared Taglialatela, both at Emory, on brain linkages, brain analogues and the evolution of language

Edmund Blair Bolles, The Workings of Co-Evolution
An interesting post on the relations between language evolution and population genetics: “Language changes to fit existing genetic biases within a population.” I’m not sure whether I agree, but the data are intriguing

Kambiz Kamrani, Cultural Evolution: Can Natural Selection Explain Cultural Rates of Change?
Deborah Rogers and Paul Ehrlich came out with a PNAS paper in February saying yes; here’s the critical response that says sorry but no

William Saletan, New World Disorder: Was ADHD an Evolutionary Asset?
Dopamine polymorphisms, impulsivity and getting ahead as a nomad versus settling down to boring agriculture. See the original study abstract here.

Simon Underdown, Evolving a Belief in God
“The simple answer is that it was not belief in God that was being selected for, rather intelligence, imagination and empathy”

On Education

National Center for Science Education, Expelled Exposed
Website with the subtitle, “Flunked, Not Expelled: What Ben Stein Isn’t Telling You about Intelligent Design”

Yudhijit Bhattacharjee, Darwinists for Jesus
A pastor becomes an evolutionary evangelist: “The religious advantage to embracing the evolutionary worldview, Dowd says, is that it explains our frailties, our addictions, our infidelities and other moral deficiencies as byproducts of adaptation over billions of years. And that, he says, has a potentially liberating effect: never mind guilt; once we understand our sinful ways, we can get past them and play a conscious role in the evolution of humanity.”

Laura Biel, Opponents of Evolution Adopting A New Strategy
If we can’t create or design it, at least we can point about the weaknesses? Follow that up with John Hawks ripping apart the weaknesses of the weaknesses….

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