The Modern Scourge of Scientific Ignorance & Chemophobia

I was thinking of writing a blog post about the misunderstandings and misrepresentations of chemistry that chemophobes and the ignorant spread. I often have discussions with people who claim that something is best because it is “natural”, sometimes not realising that it isn’t really natural at all. Even worse are people (like anti-vaxxers, self-styled nutritionists,…

Speciation and variation – Evidence of common descent

As predicted by evolutionary theory, populations evolve in response to their surroundings. In any ecosystem there are finite opportunities to make a living. Organisms either have the genetic tools to take advantage of those opportunities or they do not. House sparrows arrived in North America from Europe in 1800s. Since then, genetic variation within the…

Human Chromosome 2 – Evidence of Common Descent

Since the mid-1800s, biologists have generally shared the belief that all living things descended from a single common ancestor. Based on fossil evidence and comparative anatomy, Charles Darwin proposed that humans and great apes, which including chimpanzees, gorillas, and orangutans, share a common ancestor that lived several million years ago. More recent research has propped…

Artificial Selection – Evidence of Common Descent

Artificial selection is not direct evidence of evolution, but it is indirect evidence, a process that helps us to understand natural selection. Humans have been artificially selecting and domesticating animals and plants for many thousands of years. In effect, domestication is a long-term, practical experiment that clearly demonstrates that species can actually change dramatically by breeding…

Homologies and Analogies – Evidence of Common Descent

The theory of evolution predicts that organisms which are related share similarities that are derived from common ancestors. Similar characteristics due to relatedness are known as homologies. Homologies can be revealed by comparing the anatomies of different living things, looking at cellular similarities and differences, studying embryological development, and studying vestigial structures within individual organisms.…

As chimpanzees grow, so does yawn contagion

As chimpanzees grow, so does yawn contagion. As sanctuary-kept chimpanzees grow from infant to juvenile, they develop increased susceptibility to human yawn contagion, possibility due to their increasing ability to empathize, says a study published October 16, 2013, in the open-access journal PLOS ONE by Elainie Madsen and colleagues from Lund University. Scientists examined the…