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EVOLUTION IN THE NEW YORK TIMES
Science Times Section, Tuesday, 26 June 2007


The following summary was largely written by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch for the NCSE weekly newsletter (see below for how to subscribe). Glenn kindly allowed us to print it here.

A treat in the Science Times section of the June 26, 2007, issue of The New
York Times: a suite of articles devoted to evolution. Evolutionary
developmental biology is a central theme. Carol Kaesuk Yoon writes, "Just
coming into its own as a science, evo-devo is the combined study of
evolution and development, the process by which a nubbin of a fertilized
egg transforms into a full-fledged adult. And what these scientists are
finding is that development, a process that has for more than half a
century been largely ignored in the study of evolution, appears to have
been one of the major forces shaping the history of life on earth." Also
on the evo-devo front, NCSE Supporter Sean B. Carroll discusses evo-devo in
a video, and is also taking questions from the newspaper's readers, while
Douglas F. Erwin ponders whether evo-devo amounts to a paradigm shift for
biology.

Sean Carroll's video clip would be excellent for showing to students. In that short 6' clip, he effectively shows how the new and exciting field of Evo-Devo (the role of development in evolution) conveys how evolution works as a "tinkerer," not making new genes, but using old genes in new ways. See below for the URL to this video clip. [Reviewed by Larry Flammer]

Carl Zimmer discusses evolutionary experimentation using microbes, such as
Richard E. Lenski's pioneering work with E. coli; in the eighteen years and
40,000 generations of Lenski's work, Zimmer writes, "the bacteria have
changed significantly. For one thing, they are bigger -- twice as big on
average as their common ancestor. They are also far better at reproducing
in these flasks, dividing 70 percent faster than their ancestor. These
changes have emerged through spontaneous mutations and natural selection,
and Dr. Lenski and his colleagues have been able to watch them unfold." On
his blog The Loom, Zimmer notes that "these experiments are also meaningful
to bio-engineers who manipulate microbes to churn out useful molecules like
insulin or ethanol."

Human evolution is also covered, with John Noble Wilford explaining "The
Human Family Tree Has Become a Bush With Many Branches," emphasizing the
convergence of molecular and morphological approaches to paleoanthropology,
and Nicholas Wade explaining "Humans Have Spread Globally, and Evolved
Locally," emphasizing research on recent natural selection in humans. And
under the rubric Basics, Natalie Angier writes about parasitism -- "an
evolutionary force to be reckoned with, a source of nearly bottomless
cunning and breathtaking bio-inventiveness" -- and Cornelia Dean examines
what implications evolutionary biology and cognitive neuroscience might be
thought to have for the idea of the soul, quoting theologians John F.
Haught and Nancey Murphy as well as NCSE Supporter Kenneth R. Miller in the
process.

For the Science Times section of The New York Times, visit:
http://www.nytimes.com/pages/science/index.html

For Carl Zimmer's post about his story in the Times, visit:
http://scienceblogs.com/loom/2007/06/26/a_feast_of_bugs.php

For the Evo-Devo video clip with Sean Carroll, go to:
http://video.on.nytimes.com/index.jsp?fr_story=3ba8ecaed1cf130c1d0ea4baa3876356bea3bb58

 

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