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Darwin Day
 February 12

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That life on Earth during the past 3 billion years has evolved from single-celled organisms to complex and diverse creatures, including humans, is indeed a fact.
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Cell-like chemically active droplets may contain clues about origins of life. Chemically active droplets that grow and divide like cells may have been key to the origins of life, according to a study published in the December 2016 issue of Nature Physics. Chemically active droplets can exhibit cycles of growth and division that resemble the proliferation of living cells. "It makes it more plausible that there could have been spontaneous emergence of life from nonliving soup," said study co-author Frank Julicher.

Discovery of five new species of tetrapod that lived between 360 million and 345 million years ago may help bridge the gap of 15 million years in the tetrapod fossil record and reveal more about how creatures moved from aquatic life to living on land. The new species plus seven other fragmentary fossils are described in a study published in the December 5th 2016 issue of Nature Ecology & Evolution.

Evidence that Evolution Trends Towards Increasing Body Size - A new study of the evolution of marine animals has found evidence that Cope's Rule, which hypothesizes that animal lineages evolve toward larger body size over time, is true. The researchers analyzed data that spaned over 500 million years and included more than 17,000 marine animal species. They found that body volumes had increased by over five orders of magnitude since the first animals evolved. Modeling also suggested that such a massive increase could not have emerged from neutral drift from a small initial value. Science 2015, 347, 867-870.

Fossilized 530 Myr Embryos Found in China - Fossilized embryos of a previously unknown creature have been found in southern China, dating back between 521 million and 541 million years, during the Cambrian period. It remains a mystery what these embryos would have grown up to become but some of the spheres had polygonal patterns that look similar to those seen on fossilized embryos from a Cambrian worm-like creature. "We found over 140 spherically shaped fossils, some of which include features that are reminiscent of division-stage embryos, essentially frozen in time," said University of Missouri researcher James Schiffbauer. See the full paper in the March 2014 issue of the Journal of Paleontology.

Multicellular Life Present > 586 Million Years Ago -  No fossils or trace fossils of multicellular bilaterian life have been reported from early in the Ediacaran era, though molecular clocks and biomarker studies indicate the possibility. Pecoits and colleagues report in the 6/29/2012 issue of Science on the discovery of the oldest bilaterian burrows in shallow-water glaciomarine sediments from the Tacuarķ Formation, Uruguay. These findings unite the paleontological and molecular data pertaining to the evolution of bilaterians. Read more .....

Synthetic Genetic Evolution of polymers, broadly referred to as XNAs, can replicate and evolve just like their naturally occurring counterparts DNA and RNA.  According to a study in the April 19th 2012 issue of the journal Science, the results of the research have implications not only for the fields of biotechnology and drug design, but also for research into the origins of life---on this planet and beyond.  This means that you don't need to have the ribose and deoxyribose backbones of RNA and DNA in order to have transmittable, heritable, and evolvable information.  Read more....


Microscopic, sponge-like African fossils could be the earliest known animals--and possibly our earliest evolutionary ancestors. The creature, Otavia antiqua, was found in 760-million-year-old rock in Namibia and was as tiny as it may be important. From these tiny "sponges" sprang very big things, the authors suggest in an article appearing in the South African Journal of Science . As possibly the first muticellular animals, Otavia could well be the forerunner of dinosaurs, humans-basically everything we think of as "animal." Read more......


The Top Ten Daily Consequences of Having Evolved - From hiccups to wisdom teeth to goosebumps, the evolution of homo sapiens has left behind some glaring, yet innately human, imperfections.  By Rob Dunn, Smithsonian.com,  November 19, 2010

The "Cambrian Extinction" may not have happened  according to the report in the May 13th 2010 issue of the journal Nature.  A new fossil find in Morocco shows that the disappearance of Burgess Shale fossils is not due to an extinction event, but more likely reflects the absence of preservation of similar soft-bodied organisms in later periods. The discovery of diverse soft-bodied creatures provides a link between earlier communities and the latter "explosion of life".

Why Ray Comfort is wrong - On November 11th, 2009, Ray Comfort, an evolution denier,  distributed copies of Darwin's first book on college campuses, with an introduction written by him making a long list of bizarre claims about Darwin and evolution. Help fight this mis-information by printing out this one sheet rebuttal and distributing it where needed.

A Does evolution go in reverse?  Since the late 19th century, biologists have debated if evolution can go in reverse. If not, then evolution may depend on more than natural selection.  Multiple evolutionary paths could be possible through small chance events. Previous studies have focused on complex traits such as whale flippers, and scientists often lack sufficient information about ancestral traits or how present-day traits evolved. Scientists now have evidence that evolution doesn't make U-turns, simply reversing selective pressure won't make a biomolecule revert to an earlier form.... see ScienceNOW  Daily News  23 Sep 2009

A 47-million-year-old primate fossil that is a missing link, promises to shed new light on the earliest stages of evolution of the lineage that eventually led to humans. The unprecedented fossil of a lemur-like creature that probably weighed no more than 2 pounds when it was fully grown is remarkable because it is the most complete primate specimen ever obtained. The article describing the find can be seen at in the 19 May 2009 issue of PLoS

15 Evolutionary Gems  - provided by the journal Nature, this is a new resource summarizing fifteen lines of evidence for evolution by natural selection.  As the editors explain, "About a year ago, an Editorial in [Nature] urged scientists and their institutions to 'spread the word' and highlight reasons why scientists can treat evolution by natural selection as ....an established fact". Check it out at: http://www.nature.com/nature/newspdf/evolutiongems.pdf

EXPELLED EXPOSED !  A detailed look at the Ben Stein movie Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. We'll show you why this movie is not a documentary at all, but anti-science propaganda aimed at creating the appearance of controversy where there is none.
Check it out at: http://www.expelledexposed.com/

Fossil Crocodile is "Missing Link" -  It has a mix of morphological traits common in prehistoric crocodiles and in the ones that exist today.  The fossil of a land-bound reptile that could be a link between prehistoric and modern-day crocodiles. The  80-million-year-old predator, dubbed Montealtosuchus arrudacamposi, is 5.5-foot-long (1.6-meter-long) and was a long-limbed and extremely agile animal that roamed arid terrain in what is now the Brazilian countryside, As a missing link to prehistoric crocodiles, it offers us an excellent opportunity to study the evolutionary transition of these animals.  For more see National Geographic News (Feb. 2008).

Evolution's Greatest Mistakes -  As miraculous as living things might seem at first glance, a closer look reveals that evolution's blind blunderings often fall well short of perfection. Claire Ainsworth and Michael Le Page peek under the hood of life to assess the parts and processes where things seem to have gone spectacularly wrong. New Scientist 195.2616 (August 11, 2007): p36 (4).

Study Maps Evolution's Tiny Steps -  For the first time, scientists have drawn a detailed map of the evolutionary steps taken by a protein that links modern humans to life that swam in the oceans 450 million years ago. The study, published in the journal Science, provides further rebuttal to creationists by filling in the gaps that show how evolution occurred on a molecular level. Read more at  The News & Observer or in the 8/17/2007 issue of the Journal Science  vol.317, no.5840, pp.884-85

Twin fossil find adds twist to human evolution -  unearthed in Kenya, they show that two ancestral human species seem to have lived cheek-by-jowl in the same area, much as gorillas and chimpanzees do today. Both skull fragments, discovered by Fred Spoor of University College London and his colleagues, were found near Kenya's Lake Turkana, adding to the impressive list of early human fossils unearthed here. One of the fossils, an upper jawbone from the species Homo habilis, is dated at 1.44 million years, younger than most fossils of this species. Read more in the 8/8/2007 issue of the journal Nature.

A new website from the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology offers resources for to help defend Darwinism. Downloadable documents provide pointers on meeting with public officials, testifying at school board hearings, and related topics. Much of the advice is common sense, but some of it may be counterintuitive for scientists. (!/16/07)

The Bacterial Flagella Evolved not Designed.  In an article published on-line 9/6/2006 in Nature Reviews Microbiology (or see short summary), Mark Pallen of the University of Birmingham and Nicholas Matzke of NCSE,  review the evidence for the evolution of the bacterial flagellum.  They handily dismiss the need for any great conceptual leaps in creating a model of flagellar evolution and speculate as to how an experimental program focused on this topic might look. 

Growing evidence that evolution is not just real but is actually still happening to humans today.  "From 1970 to 2000, the view was that although natural selection is very important, it is relatively rare,  That view was driven largely because we did not have data to identify the signals of natural selection. In the last five years, there has been a tremendous growth in understanding how much selection there is. Everywhere we look, there appears to be very widespread signals of natural selection in many genes and many processes."  wrote Dr. Jonathan Pritchard, a geneticist at the University of Chicago, in a recent article in PLoS-Biology.  Our insight to evolution and natural selection has  deepened as we have gained the ability to read the human genome.

Irreducible Complexity Refuted - By reconstructing ancient genes from long-extinct animals, scientists have for the first time demonstrated the step-by-step progression of how evolution created a new piece of molecular machinery by reusing and modifying existing parts. The findings offer a counterargument to doubters of evolution who question how a progression of small changes could produce the intricate mechanisms found in living cells. This experiment refutes the notion of "irreducible complexity".

A 375-million-year-old fish fossil with the beginnings of legs - A large scaly creature not seen before, it appears to be a long-sought missing link in the evolution of some fishes from water to walking on land. The skeletons have the fins, scales and other attributes of a giant fish. It shows anatomical traits of a transitional creature, a fish that is still a fish but has changes that anticipate the emergence of land animals — and is thus a predecessor of amphibians, reptiles and dinosaurs, mammals and eventually humans. See also Shubin et al., Nature 440 (2006) 764-71

A Catholic Scientist and Priest Looks at Evolution - Father George V. Coyne,  Vatican Observatory Director and Jesuit, shares his convictions that  (1)  the Intelligent Design (ID) movement, while evoking a God of power and might, a designer God, actually belittles God, makes her/him too small and paltry; (2) our scientific understanding of the universe, untainted by religious considerations, provides for those who believe in God a marvelous opportunity to reflect upon their beliefs.

For past items of interest please see the News Stories Archive

Statement from American Association for the Advancement of Science opposes "intelligent design theory' as part of any public school science curricula. A religious concept, ID contains significant conceptual flaws, lacks credible scientific evidence, and misrepresents scientific facts. More....

The New Creationism and Its Threat to Science Literacy and Education. (An Editorial from the President of the Americam Biological Association) Just how widespread is science literacy in the United States? That this country is the acknowledged leader of scientific research in terms of quantity and overall quality suggests our scientific enterprise is robust. Nevertheless, there is evidence that most US citizens have a poor understanding of science...More...

Teaching the Science of Evolution In the Summer 2004 issue of Cell Biology Education, Bruce Alberts, president of the National Academies, and Jay Labov of the Center for Education at the National Research Council write, "Cell and molecular biologists have provided some of the most compelling evidence to support evolution and should therefore be among those who raise their voices " More.....

“Those who cavalierly reject... Evolution, as not adequately supported by facts, seem quite to forget that their own theory is supported by no facts at all.” —Herbert Spencer

Creationism: - The invincible ignorance that results from sacrificing scientific knowledge to dogmatic faith.

"The purpose of science is not to find everlasting wisdom,
but to put an end to everlasting error."

Bertold Brecht in "The Life of Galileo Galilee

Last Updated:  1/14/2017

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