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  • Why didn’t Darwin discover Mendel’s laws?

    The publication of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species in 1859, the 150th anniversary of which we celebrate this year, was a landmark event in the history of biology and widely noted at the time. But when, 7 years later, Gregor Mendel published his findings on the laws of inheritance, they were widely ignored. Not until… Read More
  • Is a hand ax really a hand ax?

    Hand axes from from Atapuerca, Spain
    José-Manuel Benito Álvarez
    Long before humans painted caves or made colorful necklaces out of snail shells, they manufactured beautifully symmetrical, teardrop-shaped stone tools that archaeologists call hand axes, such as the ones shown at left from Atapuerca, Spain. At least, hand axes seem beautiful to us today, even if their exact function and meaning are a matter of… Read More
  • NESCent symposium covers applied evolution

    A chilling tale of science, romance, politics, and death in the Soviet Union set the stage for the National Evolutionary Synthesis Center’s (NESCent’s) third annual Darwin Day Symposium, held on 21 February at the Sigma Xi Center in Durham, North Carolina. The birthday boy himself was rarely mentioned; rather, the event emphasized modern… Read More
  • Deconstructing the ribosome

    Our lives depend on a microscopic tangle of molecules called the ribosome. The job of the ribosome is to use the sequence of DNA in a gene to build a corresponding protein. Other enzymes first build a single-stranded copy of the gene from RNA, and then a ribosome grabs onto the RNA and “reads” it… Read More
  • Chauvet Cave does not stand alone

    When the Chauvet Cave in southern France was discovered in 1994, it rocked the archaeological world, in part because its paintings of lions, horses, and rhinos were spectacularly sophisticated—and also because radiocarbon dating suggested that these artworks had been executed as early as 32,000 years ago, making them the oldest known cave paintin… Read More
  • Findings from the AAAS Meeting

    Don’t miss the chance to check on what happened at the annual meeting of AAAS this past weekend at Findings. In just a few busy days, researchers squeezed in discussions on everything from the evolution of kissing to the genetics of dog shape. There were talks on Neandertals and hobbits, even a science dance contest. Also, hear about… Read More
  • Integrative biologists pull meeting in protest

    In a letter to the governor of Louisiana, the Society for Integrative and Comparative Biology announced it would not hold its 2011 annual meeting in New Orleans because of the state’s antievolution policies. For more on the issue, check out The Chronicle of Higher Education story. Read More
  • The Darwin rapper answers a few questions

    Baba Brinkman, whose “Rap Guide to Evolution” was recently reviewed by Origins, found time between performances to answer a few questions about his original take on Charles Darwin and his controversial ideas. What was the toughest evolutionary topic to rap about? Evolutionary topics are not so much of a challenge as anti-evolutionary… Read More
  • The battle of the sexes

    If you entitle your talk Sex and War, it’s bound to draw a good crowd, as was the case last Wednesday when more than 100 people showed up for a talk on the evolution of war at the Woodrow Wilson International Center for Scholars in Washington, DC.  The speaker was human reproductive biologist Malcolm Potts… Read More
  • Neandertal artists?

    Did Neandertals use symbols and create art? This is the subject of one of the biggest, longest, and most contentious debates in the history of archaeology. Today, most researchers would agree that there is not a simple “yes” or “no” answer. But they might not agree on much else—just one more reason why Neandertals, whose… Read More