Darwin the dropout

It annoys me slightly that almost all the pictures of Darwin circulating¬†around on #DarwinDay are of some grey-haired old guy. Darwin made many of his important break-throughs as a young man. I mentioned ‘Darwin the dropout’ to my new class of evolution students this semester. Darwin was hassled by his dad to get a proper…

The Origins of Phylogeny

I just saw a very interesting piece by Ben Zimmer, whose post details 144 words for which Darwin has the earliest recorded use in English (and he compares to Lincoln, who has one). One of these words is “phylogeny”. I was a little surprised because surely Haeckel invented the term phylogeny. Indeed he did, but…

Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

Today is the 200th anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. But hey, you already knew that. All the images going around seem to have Darwin with a big white beard. But lets not forget that his Beagle voyage and much of his scientific work was completed when he was a young man. So this is really…

What Darwin Didn’t Know

Just watched “What Darwin Didn’t Know” with Armand Leroi as part of the BBC Darwin season. I was looking forward to it but it was a little disappointing. The tone was too sleepy and Victorian. There was some but not enough on what Darwin didn’t know, which was odd given the title. Modern evolutionary biology,…

Darwin Stamps

The British Royal Mail is issuing a set of Darwin stamps on Feb 12th (Darwin’s 200th birthday). I actually think there are 10 stamps this time, but could only find picture of these 6. Nice, although I can’t remember the last time I wrote an actual letter, maybe I can include the image in my…

Predicting crackpot evolution stories

2009 is Darwin year. Can we predict the crackpot evolution stories that we are certainly going to see? Stories invented by the press, artificial controversies, misinformation from anti-evolutionists. I thought it might be fun to make some predictions for 2009. Creationists will exploit PR better than scientists to get their stories into mainstream newspapers and…

Confident in your phylogeny?

There has been discussion and research for decades into support values for phylogenetic nodes and the relative quality of different phylogenies as a whole. Here is a new and impressive (although clearly subjective) criteria for confidence in a phylogenetic tree- “I am so confident in this tree I have had it tattooed onto my body”!!!The…

Natural Selection Pie

Today is the 150th anniversary of the presentation of the work of Darwin and Wallace at the Linnean Society. Tell somebody about it, just one extra person. Simple things like this make all the difference. Many people might be surprised to hear that natural selection and evolutionary biology form the core of much of modern…