A Blog of Reason From a Godless Liberal

Archive for the ‘evolution’ Category

Science + Obama = Win

In evolution, politics, POTUS, Science on November 3, 2009 at 10:54 pm

Two Things Theists Hate

Tonight, my beloved NOVA is airing the first in a three part series called “Becoming Human”.

Also, HBO’s documentary special “By The People: The Election of Barack Obama” is tonight.

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Chimps Mourn a Friend; Show Empathy and Respect

In animal rights, evolution, Science on October 29, 2009 at 5:24 pm

This picture gave me goosebumps. It is both sad and beautiful.

Story and picture via The Telegraph:

Speaking about Dorothy [the dead chimp], Miss Szczupider, 30, said the chimp was a “prominent figure” within a group of about 25 chimps.

“Chimps are not silent. They are gregarious, loud, vocal creatures, usually with relatively short attention spans”, she said.

“But they could not take their eyes off Dorothy, and their silence, more than anything, spoke volumes.”

Related:

Oldest Human Skeleton Found

In cool, creationism, evolution, Science on October 1, 2009 at 4:38 pm

Possible Origin of Bipedalism; Cryptic Ovulation

A 4.4 million year old skeleton found in Ethiopia is challenging conventional assumptions about the rise of bipedalism and cryptic ovulation (I have found the latter to be a fascinating topic since reading Leonard Shlain’s “Sex, Time, and Power”).

Via Huffington Post

Buried among the slew of papers about the new find is one about the creature’s sex life. It makes fascinating reading, especially if you like learning why human females don’t know when they are ovulating, and men lack the clacker-sized testicles and bristly penises sported by chimpanzees.

Via MSNBC

A study of Ardi, under way since the first bones were discovered in 1994, indicates the species lived in the woodlands and could climb on all fours along tree branches, but the development of their arms and legs indicates they didn’t spend much time in the trees. And they could walk upright, on two legs, when on the ground.

Formally dubbed Ardipithecus ramidus — which means root of the ground ape — the find is detailed in 11 research papers published Thursday by the journal Science.

It’s been a rough year for creationists.

Creationist Wins GOP Presidential Straw Poll

In creationism, Culture Wars, evolution, kooks, politics, religion, republicans on September 20, 2009 at 8:30 pm

Via Huffington Post

Well the “Value Voters” (or bigots) have cast their valued votes. In a time of war and 10% unemployment, what are the Value Voters biggest concerns? You guessed it, abortion, “protection” of religious liberties, gay marriage and tax cuts. What do “religious liberties” need protection from anyway? I thought religious liberties just meant being able to force creationism on school children and to openly hate gays without the stigma of being a classic bigot.

Mike (the Earth is only 6000 years old) Huckabee continues to make the case that he is the front runner for the GOP’s 2012 presidential nomination. The pious evangelical beat out republican heavyweights such as Sarah Palin, Tim Pawlenty, and my old drinking buddy, Mitt.

Mr. Huckabee is also the guy that used the governor’s office to block an animal cruelty investigation after his son hung a dog while working at a boy scout camp. What kind of family values are those?

Here is Mr. the-guy-I-raised-for-18-years-and-share-half-of-my-chromosomes-with-hung-a-dog denying evolution in a republican presidential debate.

Nice choice, teabaggers.

Dawkins Has a New Book – 9/22/09

In atheism, cool, evolution on September 18, 2009 at 5:54 pm

The Greatest Show on Earth: The Evidence for Evolution

If you pre-order, it is only $16 on Amazon.com! Better believe I’ve ordered mine, ya’ll.

Chimps Probably Think Carlos Mencia is Funny

In evolution, Science on June 4, 2009 at 8:29 pm

Laughter is a biological phenomenon once thought to be unique to humans. Not anymore. Marina Davila Ross, a primatologist and researcher at the University of Portsmouth analyzed 800 recordings of 22 apes and three human babies vocalizing as they are being tickled.

An analysis of the laughter, presented in the latest Current Biology, revealed that human laughter is most similar to that of chimpanzees and bonobos. Next in line, in terms of similarity, are gorillas, followed by orangutans and siamangs, which are lesser apes.

Not only do our ancestors laugh, but their laughs vary by species, and can be show to have evolved from one species to the next, that is unless each species’ laughter was intelligently designed. Everyone knows god loves ape humor, says so in the bible, umm, somewhere near the back. This is of course yet more evidence of human evolution that theists will flat ignore. It’s been a eventful few weeks in this regard.

Given how laughter has evolved over time, it appears that the first relative to apes and humans who guffawed did so in a much longer and slower fashion than we do now, Davila Ross explains. Non-human great apes to this day can laugh while inhaling and exhaling, often for lengthy bouts.

“We found that bonobos and gorillas have the ability to produce laughter while breathing out for more than 10 seconds,” Davila Ross said. “This shows that they can extend their exhalation phases while vocalizing, a trait thought to be unique in humans.”

She added, “The ability to produce such a vocal flow is particularly important in human speech.”

So if I understand this correctly, laughter was a predecessor to speech, indeed it was a necessity. I think along with evolution, this also bolsters the case of animals having more cognition than is commonly believed.

Discovery.com doesn’t let you embed their videos (facist!) but here is a link to watch primate laughter, it is pretty damn cute.

12 Million Year Old Hominid With Modern Facial Features Found

In cool, evolution, Science on June 2, 2009 at 7:58 pm

God’s Rough Draft?

First there was Lucy,
then Ida, now Lluc. The case keeps building, the evidence is piling up and creationist worldwide are popping a Xanax or two. Why? Researchers digging in Spain have uncovered a 12 million year old hominid fossil, and named it Lluc. Lluc is an otherwise unknown species, promptly named “Anoiapithecus brevirostris”, and it promises to shake up field of anthropology, namely the “out of Africa theory”.* This ancestor of ours has something previously unseen in hominids other than homo sapiens, a flat and ‘modern’ face.

Researchers have discovered a fossilized face and jaw from a previously unknown hominoid primate genus in Spain dating to the Middle Miocene era, roughly 12 million years ago. Nicknamed “Lluc,” the male bears a strikingly “modern” facial appearance with a flat face, rather than a protruding one. The finding sheds important new light on the evolutionary development of hominids, including orangutans, chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and humans.

Anoiapithecus displays a very modern facial morphology, with a muzzle prognathism (i.e., protrusion of the jaw) so reduced that, within the family Hominidae, scientists can only find comparable values within the genus Homo, whereas the remaining great apes are notoriously more prognathic (i.e., having jaws that project forward markedly). The extraordinary resemblance does not indicate that Anoiapithecus has any relationship with Homo, the researchers note. However, the similarity might be a case of evolutionary convergence, where two species evolving separately share common features.

The findings will be published in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

*Quote mining makes baby Jesus cry

Well Thought Out Yahoo Answers Question

In evolution, kooks, lol, religion on June 2, 2009 at 4:31 pm


Via

See the actual Yahoo Answers question and responces here.

Also seems too ridiculous to be legit, what do you think?

What Does ‘Missing Link’ Mean for Atheists?

In cool, creationism, evolution, Science on May 20, 2009 at 3:00 pm

‘Missing Link’ Fossil Hailed as New Rosetta Stone

Creationists must be in full denial mode. I’m sure it won’t be long before they put out an anti-science rebuttal attacking any ‘holes’ they can (crocoduck). News broke yesterday that scientist have described a 95% complete fossil that looks to be a clear missing link between our lemur ancestors and the road to primates.

Scientists have discovered an exquisitely preserved ancient primate fossil that they believe forms a crucial “missing link” between our own evolutionary branch of life and the rest of the animal kingdom.

The 47m-year-old primate – named Ida – has been hailed as the fossil equivalent of a “Rosetta Stone” for understanding the critical early stages of primate evolution.

This news hurts a standard creationist argument against evolution, that there are no transition fossils (even though there are). The 47-million year old fossil was a little girl (estimated to be between 6-9 months old), and shows a divergence in our lineages.

The unprecedented preservation of Ida meant working out how she died was more like a modern day crime scene investigation than the informed guess-work that palaeontologists usually make do with. The team noticed that she had a broken wrist that had begun to partially heal. The injury did not kill her, but they speculate that it contributed to her premature demise.

“It might be that her mother dropped her once or that she fell down from a tree earlier in her life,” Smith said. She survived the accident, but her climbing abilities would have been impaired. Unable to drink from water trapped by tree leaves, she would have had to venture down to the lake to drink. This would have proved to be a fateful decision.

Crucially though, Ida is not on the lemur line because she lacks two key characteristics shared by lemurs – a grooming claw on her second toe and a fused set of teeth called a tooth comb. Also, a bone in her ankle called the talus is shaped like members of our branch of the primates. So the researchers believe she may be on our evolutionary line dating from just after the split with the lemurs.

Sadly, I doubt this find will have any significant effect on the creationism verse evolution debate (I use debate as loosely as possible). Creationists have an established history of ignoring strong evidence, distorting the scientific method, plugging their ears, and being generally lame. So would anyone think one more piece of the puzzle going to change their views? I sure the hell don’t. Don’t get me wrong, this fossil certainly doesn’t hurt, as more evidence (for or against) is never a bad thing. Creationist are only interested in evidence when it supports their predetermined view.

So why then, if it won’t change the debate, does this matter to an atheist? Well, it bolsters our agrument. I’m sure it will be useful in persuading more reasonable theists (oxymoron?). It provides us with important details about our evolutionary history. Dr Jørn Hurum, the paleontologist from Oslo University’s Natural History Museum said, “This will be the one pictured in the textbooks for the next hundred years,” which means that school children all over the country (execpt Texas) will see it for generations. I don’t know about you, but this picture certainly sparks my imagination, even as an adult. Finally, this fossil makes being a creationist that much more laughable.

Ray Comfort is an Idiot

In creationism, Culture Wars, editorial, evolution, Hypocrisy, kooks, stupid people on May 1, 2009 at 5:51 pm

Creationist Fool Attacks Dawkins; Evolution

Ray Comfort is a creationist. You may remember him from the Crocoduck video I posted last weekend. Ray has a blog called (for some reason, I don’t quite get it) “Atheist Central”. Today Ray posted attacking evolution, and the so-called “pope of evolution”, The New Atheist favourite (that’s for you, my Commonwealth friends) Richard Dawkins. The article is full of glaring hypocrisies, I almost didn’t want to post about it, as it’s just too much. I’m not willing to go through it and rebut all his nonsense, so I leave that to the reader. However, I have selected a few gems of creationist reasoning I’d like to share.

“I am amazed at how many people can write so much about a subject that they insist is scientific, but that has no credible scientific basis.” No credible scientific basis huh? Evolution is the basis for understanding modern biology. It is the most widely accepted scientific theory there has ever been. And by accepted, I mean accepted by scientist, people with actual training in the scientific method, not evangelicals.

“The fact that so many supposedly learned men believe the theory, reminds me that once upon a time most learned men believed in a flat earth. But their faith didn’t change reality.” People believed a lot of stupid things during the time the church was systematically holding back scientific and social progress. The new world was discovered 141 years BEFORE Galileo’s trial! Ray is right on one point though, their faith indeed didn’t change reality. His faith, and the faith of all believers and apologists also won’t change reality. Maybe there will come a time when Ray and his flock will accept the evidence, just like 16th and 17th century Christians had to. Then again, if they haven’t yet, one wonders what exactly would make them accept reality.

“When it comes to evolution I have asked for facts from those who believe its claims, and all I get is that you have to have faith in what has been taught.” Did he just say scientist don’t offer enough facts and rely too much on faith? No seriously, his objection to evolution is a rejection of faith? I better move on, my blood pressure is rising, I can feel it in the back of my neck.

“A good evolutionist believes without a doubt what his professor has told him. He has to believe when the pope of evolution, professor Richard Dawkins tells him.” Much like a patriarchal shepherd and his sheep, wouldn’t you say? The difference between a so-called evolutionist and an evangelical is that should some alternative theory of species’ origins be developed tomorrow, Dawkins and all other reasonable people would be willing to change their beliefs in the face of new evidence, if it was strong enough that is. They wouldn’t staunchly stand by evolution if there was enough contradictory information. Indeed as scientists, they wouldn’t want to, science is about discovery, not keeping with what works. Believing what one would like to be true in spite of all evidence is exactly what Mr. Comfort does, while accusing others of the same. But instead of blindly following a scientist, he rather blindly follow a collection of authors who lived 1700 years ago and knew next to nothing about the reality they lived in.

“Still, the devout follower of Dawkins and Darwin will believe anything said to him on believers’ websites, or in believers’ books. Evolution’s many adherents simply fortify the truth that human beings are incredibly gullible, and will believe anything as long as it’s not in the Bible. How true are and the words of Professor Dawkins, when he said, “Faith is belief in spite of, even perhaps because of, the lack of evidence.” He has unquestioning faith in evolution. I do not. No instead Mr. Comfort has chosen to hitch his wagon to a Bronze Age text, which of course is much more reasonable than to trust 3,000 years of peer-reviewed progress.