Carnival of Evolution #11

by Allie Wilkinson on May 1, 2009

Today Christie and I went to the Museum of Natural History.  We saw an exhibit on bodies and learned 5 interesting facts about the human skeleton that we never knew! Not only did BioRob2006 teach us that, but also taught us what happens when we get old.  Christie really liked Geoff’s human evolution and frameshift mutation explanation, saying that it was a “very interesting hypothesis about human departure from apes.”

In the next hall, there was a copy of The Primate Diaries.  The open page said something about how unicolonial ants pose challenge to “selfish gene” theory. Beside it was a Denim and Tweed wall plaque, illustrating how ants trim trees for more living space. The end of the hall had a big sign by Hoxful Monsters, showing a new tree of life, which suggests that the nervous system evolved only once in animal history.

We walked down to The History Cellar and saw Charles Darwin’s letters, in which Darwin reacts to a bad review of The Origin of Species.  The man standing next to us, who we later learned was Adam Goldstein, said, “Give the old man a break and let’s stop it with ‘Darwinism’.”

We then went to see the new movie at the museum, Three New Species Discovered–in the Stratosphere! GrrlScientist had suggested we go see it before she met up with us, saying “”Wow, THREE new bacterial species in the stratosphere! Where will we find new life next? Perhaps the Moon? Mars?”

Towards the end of our museum visit, GrrlScientist joined us and shared some insight and photos from her own research into the evolution and biogeography of the lories, which are parrots native to the islands of the South Pacific Ocean. Apparently dead birds do tell tales!

After we left the museum, GrrlScientist, Christie and I walked through Central Park, and we looked at all the birds that have returned for spring.  GrrlScientist told me, “human eyes speak volumes to birds, and that the birds will try to hide from our gaze.”  ”Ha!” I told her.  ”That may be cool, but I know something even more interesting.  Did you know birds can dance?”

We continued our walk through the park, and saw The White Sepulchre holding a sign that was only three words long, but by his account, was the best argument against Creationism ever devised.  It said “Serpents can’t talk.”

Afterwards, I met a few friends for drinks.  Andrew Bernadin suggested that I order endorphins on the rocks.  While we were sipping away, he told me about the plasticity of human nature, and that mating strategies are variable and influenced by culture.  While discussing male dominance, he quoted Franz de Waal and said “for males, this is an all-or-nothing game; rank determines who will sow his seed far and wide and who will not sow his seed at all.”  I told him that I recently read in The Primate Diaries that the importance of female choice is overlooked in chimpanzees. When we began talking about monogamy, Anna shared something really interesting–in birds, the more monogamous the species, the bigger the brain! Zen Faulkes said that this may not be the same case with humans, and told us about a recent study he read, the author theorizes that if you’re monogamous, you have a large brain to cheat. Jennifurret, decided to end the debate and reminded us of the diversity of mating strategies in the world.

As we left the bar, I was glad to be out in the warm air that came with May.  After all, I only just read in The Spittoon that researchers tie variation in cancer gene to winter temperatures.

We walked over to the Metamagician and the Hellfire Club, where we listened to Jerry Coyne on science organisations and accommodationism.  Afterwards, Jennifurret talked about the problems with some universities and teaching evolution in colleges.  Maybe we should tell the universities to hire The Southern Fried Scientist, who gets really excited by clear cases of convergent evolution. I bet he could do a better job of teaching evolution!

Oh crap! Is that the time??? Now it’s too late to go catch the Carnival of Evolution!  I guess I’ll have to catch it next month, over at Deep Sea News.

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Annabones May 1, 2009 at 8:32 pm

Cool stuff! came across blogs I didn’t know about before :)

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Moebius May 7, 2009 at 8:11 pm

Thanks for including my post on unicolonial ants. The Primate Diaries now has a new home (at Nature!). Come on over and join the fun.

Great edition. I’ve included a link back home.

[...] Oh, For the Love of Science offers a tantalizing walk along the tangled bank [...]

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whysharksmatter May 9, 2009 at 1:25 am

Very cleverly written… and neat articles, too!

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