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  • The Lost World of Old Europe: See it in New York

    NEW YORK CITY—The exhibition of Vermeer’s The Milkmaid at the Metropolitan Museum of Art here is scheduled to end on 29 November, but don’t worry if you can’t get to the Big Apple in time to see that famous Old World painting. Just around the corner, New York University’s (NYU’s) Institute for the Study of the Ancient World (ISA… Read More
  • A plethora of hobbit papers

    Fans of Homo floresiensis will be happy this month, as the Journal of Human Evolution (JHE) has a special issue devoted to these diminutive hominins whose fossils were found on the Indonesian island of Flores. There’s also a new paper out in Significance, the Royal Statistical Society journal, in which William Jungers and Karen Baab add mo… Read More
  • Penguin DNA may reset the molecular clock

    Scientists use the “molecular clock”—an estimated rate of DNA mutation—to date key events such as migrations and the divergence of species. But just how accurately the clock keeps time has long been debated. A new study of living and ancient Antarctic penguins, like those on Ross Island at left, suggests that DNA mutates six times faster… Read More
  • Does studying why people believe in God challenge God’s existence?

    In my essay on the origin of religion earlier this month, I describe new research tackling the question of how belief in unseen deities arose. One leading model from cognitive science suggests that religion is a natural consequence of human social cognition and that we are primed to see the work of another thinking being—an agent—in the nat… Read More
  • How weblike is the tree of life?

    One of the most iconic symbols of evolution—the tree of life, a visual metaphor for the branching ancestry of species—has recently become one of its most controversial. The idea of a tree dates back to Charles Darwin himself. In January, a cover of New Scientist featured the tree emblazoned with the words “Darwin was Wrong,” refe… Read More
  • On the Origin of Religion

    Every human society has had its gods, whether worshiped from Gothic cathedrals or Mayan pyramids. In all cultures, humans pour resources into elaborate religious buildings and rituals. But religion offers no obvious boost to survival and reproduction. So how and why did it arise? In my Origins essay this month, I follow two very different discipl… Read More
  • Researchers discuss Darwin in NSF’s online report

    The National Science Foundation has released an online special report on the influence of Charles Darwin on many walks of science. Evolution of Evolution: 150 Years of Darwin’s On the Origin of Species features essays, videos, and podcasts from prominent researchers, as well as a timeline of advances in evolution, all beautifully crafte… Read More
  • Change in regulatory DNA responsible for stickleback evolution

    CHICAGO, ILLINOIS—The birthplace of modern evolutionary biology can arguably be located at a landmark 1959 conference at the University of Chicago, which synthesized the then-new discoveries of DNA and genetics with Charles Darwin’s observations on evolution. Last weekend, the university reprised that famous meeting with a “Darwin 200… Read More
  • Ant and tree cooperation a delicate balance

    Charles Darwin worked hard to figure out how cooperation within a species—self-sacrifice among worker bees, for example—could have evolved. But he was stumped when it came to understanding cooperation between species. In his book, On the Origin of Species, he wrote, “Natural selection cannot possibly produce any modification in a species for… Read More