Way back last summer, I wrote a four-part Misconception Monday series on evolutionary trees (part 1, 2, 3, 4). What I couldn’t tell you back then was that the inspiration for the series was a new section of the incomparably fabulous Understanding Evolution (UE) site. At the time, the UCMP folks asked me to hold off on advertising the section until they got their evaluations back from external assessors. Grudgingly, I held off. Then, when the site went live in September, I was swamped and didn’t do what I should have done—loudly sing its praises on the blog. It’s true that some of my extra workload involved writing Evo in the News articles for the UE site, but I still feel pretty horrible that I haven’t championed its new triumph yet. My guilt ends today. Everyone, get ready for awesome and go explore The Tree Room!

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In part 1 of this post, I recounted how in the middle of a moment of domestic bliss (doing dishes) I was brought up short by an exchange on Science Friday.

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Do you see it, readers? The steam pouring out of my ears? Picture this. It’s last Sunday night. I’m doing dishes and listening to some podcasts, scrubbing away not exactly merrily, but efficiently and contentedly, when I heard this: “I happen to believe that we should teach ‛intelligent design’ in classrooms. I think it’s a perfectly reasonable thing to teach.”

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The vertebrate paleontologist is a peculiar creature—half geologist, half biologist, half lunatic, it spends as much time as it can in the hottest desert or the coldest tundra, all in the passionate pursuit of the interesting inedible. As many of you know personally, and others of you have no doubt inferred, they’re even more peculiar en masse. One of the things I miss most since leaving academia is attending the annual Society of Vertebrate Paleontology (SVP) meeting. Apart from the fact that it’s among the booziest meetings around, SVP-ers are just … goofy and delightful.

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Last week, on National Fossil Day, our Stephanie Keep organized a twitter conversation where folks could ask paleontologists their pressing questions. It rocked, and you can find the whole thing on the #askapaleo Storify.

Stephanie’s icebreaker question about the disappointingly featherless dinosaurs in Jurassic World got this reply from paleontology reporter Brian Switek:

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10.20.2015

“How often have I said to you that when you have eliminated the impossible, whatever remains, however improbable, must be the truth?”  —Sherlock Holmes

homo naledi

 

 

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In honor of National Fossil Day (yep, it’s a thing), there’s going to be a live twitter Q&A, October 14, 2015, 2–3 p.m. EST* with me and a couple all-star paleos**:

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