Last Friday we took a look at an unusually cute trio of trilobites. Of course, trilobites are a pretty broad group. The species name of these specimens is Anataphrus vigilans. These particular trilobites hail from the Upper Ordovician. While trilobites make popular fossils for home collectors, this species is rarely available for sale. Specimens are somewhat scarce and when they are found, they are almost always rolled up in defensive positions. These poor trilobites were taken by surprise. They have been really beautifully preserved in a natural setting.
Evolutionary trees are everywhere—in textbooks, museums, trade books, and journals and magazines—and they are key to understanding common descent. And yet, to interpret them properly, you need to understand some specialized vocabulary and to adopt a specific mindset. Basically: It’s tough to talk tree.
This week on Fossil Friday we have a nice little grouping of organisms. These fossils might not be as hard to identify as the last few we’ve put up, but look at them! They’re so cute! These guys were found in the driveway of somebody’s farm in Fayette County, Iowa. First person to identify them wins bragging rights for the week!
In part 1, I returned to David Hume’s Dialogues concerning Natural Religion (1779) to discuss a passage in which the character Cleanthes says, “All these various machines, and even their most minute parts, are adjusted to each other with an accuracy which ravishes into admiration all men who have ever contemplated them,” in part because I wanted to identify what may be a previously unnoticed influence on the passage, from Ralph Cudworth’s A Treatise concerning Eternal and Immutable Morality (1731).
The mission of NCSE has never been to teach everyone science. So how do we help improve understanding of evolution, climate science, and science as a way of knowing while simultaneously steering clear of the broader business of teaching science? Ann Reid and I had a breakthrough that has clarified the balance we need to strike.
We recently reached an interesting milestone: for the first time in human history, the global monthly average carbon dioxide concentration in the atmosphere exceeded 400 parts per million (ppm). This wasn’t the first time that the 400 ppm barrier had been broken; that occurred at Mauna Loa back in May 2013.
People who downplay or deny evolution often forget that evolutionary processes have major, dynamic impacts on the quality and future of their lives. Case in point: microorganisms.
Recently delegates from around the world gathered in Bonn, Germany, for a UN conference to discuss how the nations of the world can reach a “new, universal agreement on climate change.” This agreement is meant to outline how nations will work together to reduce greenhouse gases and limit, to the degree still possible, the worst effects of global climate change. These are good, laudable goals. But as you may suspect, there is a catch.
In Part 1, I told you about my work with the 1918 influenza virus, and promised to tell you more about why the Highly Pathogenic Avian Influenza H5N2 (HPAIH5) influenza strain that is currently rampaging through chicken farms in the Midwest is unlikely to jump to humans.