\ Visualizing Evolution: February 2009

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Linkfest: Long-neck Stegosaur

Link #1: Long-necked Stegosaur discovered in Portugal!

Miragaia longicollum Photograph courtesy Octavio Mateus/Nova de Lisboa University; illustration courtesy Alam Lam/Nova de Lisboa University (from NationalGeographic.com)

Check out the cladocram... it contains the phylogeny as well as the continents each group is found on and the timescale for each node!
figure from the Proceedings of the Royal Society -- click to embiggen

Link #2: An interactive mass extinction timeline from the Discovery Channel: (Thanks to Harrison for the link!)
Link #3: Atheist now accepts Intelligent Design. Maybe the creationists were right all along! Only a loving God could create something as perfect and useful as a bacterial flagellum:

Wednesday, February 25, 2009

The Pacific barreleye fish knows what's up

I think I'm the only blogger who hasn't posted the recent pictures of the Pacific barreleye fish, so here they are! More on the story here.

Sure, God created this on the 5th day. I'll buy that. ; )

Edit: I haven't been checking Google Analytics for this blog for weeks... because it was just too depressing. But I just signed in and,
Man alive!! Look what happened as Darwin's birthday approached! Most visitors ever. Now I really wish I would have done a real post.

I hereby promise to have something really, really good for the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of Species in November.

Tuesday, February 24, 2009

More homology for kids...

This is a passage from Jean Craighead George's children's book Julie, which is the sequel to Julie of the Wolves, my all-time favorite book from my grade school days.

"When Julie and Ellen were alone, Julie came down from the iglek and sat beside her.

Ellen," she said, "our next lesson is about how every beast and plant is dependent on every other beast and plant."

"I understand that," she said. "You have taught me well."

Julie despaired. She had been talking to Ellen since the sun had gone down about cycles and the rise of one animal and the fall of another. She had held up her hands and told her how the Eskimo knew they were related to all the animals because they all had the same bones in one shape or another. She had told her that wolves kept the environment healthy, and that when the environment is healthy, people are healthy.

And still Ellen had told her she would kill a wolf to save the oxen and Kapugen agreed with her.

Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday Poetry - Homology

Craig Gosling has sent me some more evolution poems! But I forgot about Weekend Poetry yesterday, so here is one a day late:
Homologous Things and Ridiculous Wings

Homologous structures cry out to me
“Ever wonder how we came to be?”
What does a horse, a bird, and a cat
have in common with a boy, frog, and a bat?
All have two limbs in the front and the rear.
All have three bones in those limbs it is clear.
Are these structures related at all?
From same origins seems a good call.
But what about angels, did god make a mistake?
Where did wings come from? I think they’re all fake.
How did they grow, those feathers and bones?
Are they some kind of fairy-tale clones?
I’ll stick to science and homologous things
rather than angels with ridiculous wings.

- Craig Gosling
Homology really is a fantastic way to introduce students to the idea of evolution. Young kids, too! They catch on right away when they see the preserved skeleton of a bat wing and note how hand-like it is. Craig also sent me this coloring sheet he drew for an elementary school teacher, in which the kids are encouraged to color the homologous bones in each animal (humerus, radius, etc) the same color.

Click here to download a full-size .pdf of this coloring sheet.

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Darwin Day!

Today is the 200th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin! I had long planned to do something special for VE on this day. But the last few weeks have left me with little time or energy. I feel genuinely guilty about it... like I've forgotten a friend's birthday or something! Don't worry, pal. I'll take you out to Applebee's next week to make up for it. Yes, you can even get the appetizer. Anyway, at least Google is celebrating properly!

Isn't that lovely?

Seed Magazine also has some cool stuff for the day, and click on the Blog for Darwin link on the right to see some blogs that didn't neglect their Darwin Day Duties like this one did.

This here is what it's all about:

"It is interesting to contemplate an entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing on the bushes, with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the damp earth, and to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms, so different from each other, and dependent on each other in so complex a manner, have all been produced by laws acting around us. These laws, taken in the largest sense, being Growth with Reproduction; Inheritance which is almost implied by reproduction; Variability from the indirect and direct action of the external conditions of life, and from use and disuse; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to a Struggle for Life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of Character and the Extinction of less-improved forms. Thus, from the war of nature, from famine and death, the most exalted object which we are capable of conceiving, namely, the production of the higher animals, directly follows. There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved."

Wednesday, February 4, 2009

0 for 12

I've been neglecting Visualizing Evolution, I'm afraid.

But with the new month, I do need to point out that the first of my 2009 predictions has (thankfully) not come true.

"January - Oil prices rise again, causing a sudden spike in gas prices"

See, unlike the 'real' psychics, I point out my misses. ; )

Oh, read this over at Pharyngula if you haven't already. It will make your day.

edit: Looks like February's prediction will be wrong as well:

"February - lawsuits abound as ignorant antenna-TV owners suddenly find their sets to be showing nothing but static."