Skip to content

Carnival of Evolution 47: All the Evolution News that’s Fit to Blog

Last updated on 21 Jun 2018

Newspaper 300x225

Welcome to the 47th edition of the Carnival of Evolution. We have had our science reporters out in force hunting down the best of the blogosphere on evolution and related subjects, and here they are for your delectation and delight and other d-words.

First some links I encountered in my random walk through the webbies: Face to face with primate facial diversity at Wild Mammal Blog gives information about the evolution of facial colouring in South American primates. Social evolution in mole rats at the same blog discusses the adaptive niches of naked mole rats (not all  of which are social or eusocial, by the way). And the agony column Molecular Love asks The evolution perspective: Do antidepressants do more harm than good?; and the answer is not clear.

Reporter Bradley Alicea at Synthetic Daisies tells the story of Recent Advances Towards a Truly Darwinian Neurodynamics, which is a good review of an emerging area at the interface of artificial and natural evolutionary systems (based on a recently-published paper). He also gives an excellent overview of The Neuromechanics and Evolution of Very Slow Movements, in sloths and turtles, but also fast movements in woodpeckers.

Humorist David Morrison at The Genealogical World of Phylogenetic Networks (there’s a mouthful) notes that Steven Jay Gould was wrong: You can find Copes’ Rule in manufactured objects. Cars, for instance, tend to get bigger… Almost as humorous if it were not so serious, reporter Troy Britain offers a human interest story about a silly creationist who can’t get anything right about horse evolution at Playing Chess with Pigeons, in a story entitled Open mouth, insert hoof.

The science reporter at Bytesize Biology discusses recent research in It’s a smORF world, after all? Small open reading frames are everywhere (in Drosophila, anyway)

The living rainbow: In budgies, same-sex courting isn’t practice for wooing the ladies: Essayist Jeremy Yoder at Denim and Tweed observes that the gay rainbow is found in budgies and it isn’t just practice for hetero mating. In Notes from the field: What’s Chris doing to that Joshua tree? he also discusses why Joshua trees have two distinct phenotypes. It’s all about what fertilises them. Sex, sex, sex; it’s all the young folk think about these days! I’m tempted to write a letter to the Times.

At Nothing in Biology Makes Sense, our intrepid observer devindrown argues that hosts can survive parasitism in Multidimensional coevolution, no oscillation overthruster required. At the same blog, embedded journalist Hird shows how critically endangered species used illegally in Traditional Chinese Medicine can be identified by Genetic Auditing.

In breaking news, David Winter talks about Flightless Flies (not Walks – dad joke) at Sciblogs. Many of them are bloodsuckers.

Our man in the lab, Kevin Zelnio, discusses my favourite topic, Species Concepts at the Scientific American blog. Michael Ryan, senior correspondent at Paleoblog, mentions the father of cladistics, Willi Hennig’s, birthday.

Womens’ Affairs Reporter (it had to be a man, didn’t it?), Zen Faulkes, sensei at Neurodojo, covers the question of why women wear red. Answer: It’s sexy but not sexual, and he returns to the issue to consider how cultural bias might influence such evolutionary psychological explanations.

Occasional science reporter (he usually covers the religion beat) PZ Myers at little known blog, Pharyngula, shows how modular gene networks can place eyes in all kinds of places, and just generally be the source of evolutionary novelties.

In the features page, politics reporter Joachim D asks who coined the term “social Darwinism” at Mousetrap. [He missed William Graham Sumner, though.]

Hidden in the classifieds, Bug Girl gets onto one of my pet peeves with Taxonomy Fails, in this case cochineal insects not being beetles. She works up a useful metric for taxonomy fails.

The education pages cover the question of whether there is a biology of metaphysics (as opposed to a metaphysics of biology?) via reporter Ken Weiss at The Mermaid’s Tale in Metaphysics in science, Part II: Life in a cave. Are philosophical objects blind in caves? Thanks to Anne Buchanan for the notice.

The cookery pages editor, Katie Sorene at The Flying Fugu, asks Was the Caveman Diet Healthier than Our Own? What did ancient humans eat during the paleolithic era? Was their diet healthier than our own? What we can we learn from evolutionary nutritional standards and could we benefit from adopting the Paleo diet today?

Suzanne Elvidge at Genomic Engineering reports on news on Stickleback genetics and evolution, and on how Athletic frogs have faster-changing genomes, and how Synthetic genetic material, XNA, can replicate and evolve and DNA data: Polar bears evolved 600,000 years ago. This is a good blog to subscribe to for the news front page.

Danielle Whittaker Tyler Hether at the evolution consortium BEACON reports on work done there on The effect of landscapes and ecology on gene flow and speciation in amphibians.

Finally some video: TV reporter Donald Forsdyke at Queens University, Ontario, has a series of Youtube talks on various aspects of evolution worth looking at. In particular check out the one on Mendelian inheritance and Speciation under Branching Evolution.

Last and least, I have an editorial on reconstructing the past in evolution in Bayes, Evolutionary Clocks and Biogeography. Rupert won’t be happy. Until next time at some little known blog by the name of Pharyngula, this is the news…


  1. Thanks for the link – great post – will link to it on the Genome Engineering site

  2. If it is true that the term social Darwinism got its current meaning (currency) in 1944 from Hofstadter, then that badge will hardly apply to anybode before that date including not only Spencer but also Sumner (whom I did not mention indeed).

    • Sure. I was just being silly. Although Sumner’s views sound vaguely like Hofstadter’s social Darwinian, he, like Spencer, Adam Smith, and others, has a notion of duties owed to others.

  3. Nice that you mentioned my YouTube talks. Flattering to be called a “TV reporter”! You may be mixing me up with Darryl Reanney (deceased), who is mentioned in my latter videos as having branched into public education for the ABC network. He argued in 1979 that introns were for error correction, which is the case I try to make in videos 37-54.

    • Donald, the conceit of the Carnival is that each presenter finds a way to display things. Last time it was in terms of phylogenetic trees. This time (given the developments in the UK), I chose to pretend everyone was a media personality or reporter. I cannot vouch for what PZ Myers will do next time. Probably something to do with cephalopods.

  4. Ooops! I should have read your Carnival more carefully. Hope that you are fully recovered from the accident – clearly, your sense of humour is unimpaired!

  5. Very late to this (at least by internet standards) – but thanks for putting together such a great assemblage of talks (and for including my just-barely-evolutionary piece among them)

Comments are closed.