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  • The end of Origins

    This year, the worldwide community of science has marked the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth—and the 150th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species—with dozens of evolutionary-themed meetings, books, review papers, and Science’s own monthly Origins series. In this blog, we’ve both joined in and reported on these… Read More
  • Darwin (Festival) caught on video

    If you’re tired of watching It’s a Wonderful Life or A Christmas Carol yet again, perhaps Darwin can occupy your cold winter nights. As a holiday treat, Origins would like to point out that this summer’s Darwin Festival in Cambridge, U.K., has compiled videos of many of its sessions, which typically start with a reading from D… Read More
  • A musical tribute to Darwin and the Earth

    Charles Darwin may have had his biggest impact on biology, but he began his scientific career as a geologist. So it’s appropriate that earlier this year, retired geologist John Ramsay, who had long studied the famed biologist’s life, accepted a commission to compose a Darwin-themed string quartet. Darwin “did some pretty fundamental geologica… Read More
  • Leaf plumbing and angiosperm evolution

    In my essay on the origin of flowering plants, I discussed many ideas related to how angiosperms came to dominate terrestrial ecosystems. Representing hundreds of thousands of species and 96% of all terrestrial vegetation, flowering plants are the most successful land plants on Earth. Researchers have long chalked it up to their flowers, which en… Read More
  • On the Origin of Tomorrow

    More than ever before, the future is in our hands. We are shaping not just our own destiny but also the destinies of much of life on this planet. That is the take-home message of the final essay, On the Origin of Tomorrow, in Science‘s Origins series. As Carl Zimmer points out in this essay, Charles Darwin gave a… Read More
  • 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