RNCSE 20 (1–2)

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Articles available online are listed below.

A Review of Of Pandas and People as a Textbook Supplement

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
A Review of Of Pandas and People as a Textbook Supplement
Gary L Bennett
31–34, 39
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
Throughout the country, school boards are receiving offers of free or low-cost copies of the supplementary textbook, Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins, by Dean Kenyon and Percival Davis. NCSE member Gary Bennett completed a comprehensive review of Pandas last fall to assist the Idaho Department of Education in its decision on whether to adopt the book as a recognized classroom resource. We present to RNCSE readers this abbreviated version of his review to accompany the annual bibliography by Frank Sonleitner listing recent scientific research that addresses the issues raised by Pandas.]

Consistency with Department of Education Position Statement on Science

The book Of Pandas and People (hereafter, Pandas) is inconsistent with the Idaho position statement on science, which bases its acceptance decisions on the publications of the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and the National Science Teachers Association (NSTA). Both the AAAS and the NSTA have consistently supported the teaching of the scientifically accepted theory of evolution. In contrast, under the guise of an alternative approach known as "intelligent design", Pandas does little more than attack the theory of evolution. I was unable to find any peer-reviewed scientific literature on the "theory of intelligent design" either cited in the text or in professional scientific research journals. Furthermore, published work dealing with "intelligent design" by the authors of Pandas has not been found in respected science journals. Since legitimate scientists are not working on so-called "intelligent design", this book should not be used in any science class.

Consistency with State Exiting Standards

By attacking the theory of evolution, Pandas fails to support Idaho's draft high school exiting standards:
  • Unifying Concepts of Science, Section I.D of the Science Standards, states that "[t]he student will demonstrate an understanding of the process of evolution as it relates to the gradual changes in the universe and of equilibrium as a physical state".
  • Section V (Interdependence of Organisms and Biological Change) states that "[t]he student will understand the theory of biological evolution" and that "[t]he student should explain the interdependence of organisms".

Science is based on finding natural explanations for why the universe works as it does. Pandas invokes a supernatural belief called "intelligent design" (which looks like nothing more than the latest manifestation of the discredited belief system known as "creationism") to explain the origins of life and the creation of the different species of life. Since science does not deal with the supernatural, because it is beyond measurement, Pandas does not qualify as a science textbook.

Scientific Contents

Does the book provide accurate, reliable, scientific information?

No. Instead of utilizing peer-reviewed scientific information from the accepted science journals (for example, Science and Nature) and a wealth of literature on the best and most current scientific thinking, Pandas engages in sophistry to advance its agenda. In Suggested Reading/Resources, it tends to cite discredited creationist books. The book uses quasireligious arguments and special pleading to try to discredit the theory of evolution. Many of these arguments attack historical science (for example, Oparin's hypothesis, the Miller-Urey experiment, and so on) and are therefore outdated. The authors of Pandas seem unaware of the tremendous strides that have been made in biology.

Does the book present scientific theory?

No. The authors provide no scientific documentation for the claim that "intelligent design" is an alternative to the accepted theory of evolution. The National Academy of Sciences, America's premier scientific body, has defined "theory" as "[i]n science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses". Since "intelligent design" is not well-substantiated in the accepted scientific literature, it does not qualify as a scientific theory.

Is the scientific method emphasized?

No. Although there is no rigid definition of the scientific method, one can say in general that it is a way of thinking in which hypotheses are tested against systematic observations of the natural universe. Classically, the scientific method is often defined as a process or method in which a problem is identified, relevant data are gathered, a hypothesis is formulated on the basis of these data, and the hypothesis is then empirically tested. This can be done by conducting laboratory experiments and/or gathering information (such as collecting fossils or observing stars). Critics or skeptics of the hypothesis should be able to conduct their own experiments or make their own scientific observations to test the hypothesis. Pandas fails to use the scientific method; instead, it appeals to an unidentified supernatural agent.

Instead of using the scientific method, what Pandas has done is to produce what philosophers call a "closed system". As the thinker and writer Arthur Koestler wrote:

A closed system has three peculiarities. Firstly, it claims to represent a truth of universal validity, capable of explaining all phenomena, and to have a cure for all that ails man. In the second place, it is a system which cannot be refuted by evidence, because all potentially damaging data are automatically processed and reinterpreted to make them fit the expected pattern. The processing is done by sophisticated methods of casuistry, centered on axioms of great emotive power, and indifferent to the rules of common logic; it is a kind of Wonderland croquet, played with mobile hoops. In the third place, it is a system which invalidates criticism by shifting the argument to the subjective motivation of the critic, and deducing his motivation from the axioms of the system itself ... In fine, the mentality of a person who lives inside a closed system of thought ... can be summed up in a single formula: He can prove everything he believes, and he believes everything he can prove. The closed system sharpens the faculties of the mind, like an over-efficient grindstone, to a brittle edge; it produces a scholastic, Talmudic, hair-splitting brand of cleverness which affords no protection against committing the crudest imbecilities.

The theory of evolution would be overturned tomorrow if scientifically verifiable information were uncovered showing that humans lived alongside dinosaurs. The notion of "intelligent design" cannot be falsified, however, because, if confronted with evidence against their belief, the advocates will simply shrug and say, "Well, that is how the intelligent designer did it".

Is the learning experiential? How does it relate to real life issues?

The learning is not experiential. Pandas provides no scientifically conclusive experiments that could be performed to prove that an intelligent designer exists. Worse, putting a religiously inspired textbook into a good science class where students are taught to question orthodoxy would expose the narrow religious views in Pandas to the kind of sharp questioning that could undermine the religious beliefs of some students.

Pandas does not relate well to real life issues such as biomedical concerns. For example, many in the scientific and medical communities are worried about the ever-evolving bacteria around us. Scientists find that bacteria are evolving immunity to the antibacterial medications that have been developed to control them. If we are going to survive, we need to understand evolution, because it describes how bacteria and other organisms change and it describes how our genetic makeup came to be. To teach "intelligent design" is little different from teaching shamanism as a way to eliminate diseases, since it does not engage the scientific method and prior scientific knowledge to understand and solve problems in human society.

Should the book be adopted?

Absolutely not! This book does not teach science; it misrepresents science. Students and teachers without a good grounding in biology and the methods of science could be seduced by this book into rejecting well-established science. It is nothing more than a cleverly-worded tract espousing an unscientific belief system. Rather than teaching students how to think objectively, this book teaches students how to twist words and quotations to advance unsupported suppositions. On a more practical level, most biology courses spend very little time on the origins of life so there is no need for a separate book on that subject. And if a separate book on origins is desired, it should be a real science book.

Additional Overall Comments

This book suffers from an inordinate focus on the origins of life, which is usually a small part of any introductory biology course. Since most biology courses focus on cells, plants, animals, and their constituent parts, it is not clear that this book would be a useful supplement. In the areas of known science, it adds nothing new, and in the area of the origin of life, despite its protestations otherwise, it advances a particular religious belief under the rubric "intelligent design". There is no peer-reviewed scientific work in the standard scientific literature that supports the assertions of this book. In short, this book follows the cliché-ridden creationist approach of attacking evolution while providing no scientific work to support its position. Saying that an intelligent designer did something that cannot be explained says nothing. People once said that an intelligent designer caused thunder and lightning and the motion of the planets. "Intelligent design" is a mystical, Dark Ages, anti-science philosophy trying to disguise itself as science.

Pandas is based on the assumption that evolution and "intelligent design" are competing theories. Nothing could be farther from the truth. As a working scientists, I am not aware of any serious scientific work being done on so-called "intelligent design". The fact that evolution has occurred is accepted by most qualified scientists, whose views are based upon thousands of research results in such diverse fields as anthropology, astronomy, biology, physics, chemistry, and geology.

The theory of evolution, which is a well-substantiated scientific explanation for what has occurred, deals with changes in organisms with time:

Evolution: change in the hereditary characteristics of groups of organisms over the course of generations (NAS 1998).

The above definition was given in the publication Teaching About Evolution and the Nature of Science, published by the National Academy of Sciences, the nation's premier science organization (chartered by Congress in 1863). (Note: The glossary on pages 149-51 of Pandas needs to be corrected to coincide with accepted definitions.)

The theory of evolution is silent on how life originated and it makes no claims about religious beliefs. The fact that evolution has occurred is evident from the fossil record, which is a long record of modifications in the characteristics of animals and plants from the simpler to the more complex over hundreds of millions of years. Scientific work in such diverse fields as astronomy, geology, physics, chemistry and biology overwhelmingly supports the theory that life has evolved on the earth.

Pandas never really provides a scientific definition of "intelligent design". On page 14, Pandas states that "[i]ntelligent design, by contrast, locates the origin of new organisms in an immaterial cause: in a blueprint, a plan, a pattern, devised by an intelligent agent". But nowhere does Pandas provide a scientifically testable definition or theory of the "intelligent agency". What properties does it have? How would a scientist detect it? What measurements could be made? What predictions could be made?

On pages 99-100, Pandas states that "[i]ntelligent design means that various forms of life began abruptly through an intelligent agency, with their distinctive features already intact-fish with fins and scales, birds with feathers, beaks, and wings, and so on." But this is contrary to the fossil evidence. For example, Pandas states that "[n]o creatures with a partial wing or partial eye are known", yet in Padian and Chiappe 1998 we find the so-called "partial wing" in Archaeopteryx and its relatives, and in Pennisi and Roush 1997 we find a summary of some evolutionary studies indicating that the ancestral bilateral animal may have had a simple photoreceptor. Using the "partial eye" argument has been an old favorite erroneous criticism offered by creationists, who do not seem to recognize that any light-sensitive organ would give an animal an advantage over its blind companions. Dawkins (1986) gives a good discussion about how an eye could evolve. Even Darwin, despite the limited knowledge of the fossil record of his day, gave a good explanation of how the eye might have developed (Darwin 1859/1979). Finally, it should be noted that hundreds of thousands of the single-celled amoeba named Dictyostelium have been observed coalescing into something that resembles a multicellular creature with some amoebas acting as eyes (Zimmer 1998). It is surprising that the Pandas authors are continuing to advance objections refuted long ago.

However, what is perhaps worse about pages 99-100 is that Pandas puts itself into the discredited camp of abrupt creation, that is, with those who believe the earth is only 10 000 years old and that every kind of plant and animal was created at once with no changes since (see also page 92). The fossil and geological record clearly shows the earth is older than 10 000 years and that whole species have evolved and died out-there have been fantastic changes!

On page 150, Pandas defines "intelligent design (cause)" as "[a]ny theory that attributes an action, function, or the structure of an object to the creative mental capacities of a personal agent. In biology, the theory that biological organisms owe their origin to a pre-existent intelligence". There are a number of problems with this definition, beginning with the fact that it is a circular definition, i.e., it defines "intelligent design" in terms of itself. What is a "personal agent"? Secondly, "intelligent design" is not a theory in any sense of the word in the field of biology. The National Academy of Sciences defines "theory" as "[i]n science, a well-substantiated explanation of some aspect of the natural world that can incorporate facts, laws, inferences, and tested hypotheses" (NAS 1998). "Intelligent design" fails this definition.

Finally, given the definition on page 150 and the discussions on pages 14 and 99-100, the reader is left in total confusion. Are the authors of Pandas talking about "intelligent design" or an "intelligent agency" or a "personal agent" or a "preexistent intelligence"? Pandas is so confused and circular in its reasoning that it clearly does not meet the test of a good science book; however, it would fit in nicely in a comparative religion class or a class on investigating pseudoscience and the uses of propaganda.

The crux of the issue is that so-called "intelligent design", which has been described as one of the latest evolutions of the ever-evolving creationist movement, is based on supernatural intervention. In effect, "intelligent design" assumes that God was involved at various points in the evolutionary process, but it provides no evidence in support of this belief. Given that the Catholic Church and the mainstream Protestant community have accepted evolution as the way God created the millions of species, one wonders why the creationists still insist upon a literal reading of Genesis. Theologian Langdon Gilkey has stated that creationists come "very close, yes, very close indeed to the first, and worst, Christian heresy!" (emphasis in original) because they try to separate the act of creation from God as if there were two gods, which was the heretical position of the Gnostics (Gilkey 1985). Thus, not only is creationism or "intelligent design" bad science, it is also arguably bad theology!

Professor of philosophy and zoology Michael Ruse has written this about Pandas:

And, let me (for what seems the millionth time in my life) protest at the Creationists appropriating exclusively unto themselves the mantle of religion. The world of life may or may not be designed. But the argument is not that the choice is between an exclusive disjunction of evolution and design. I believe that if God chooses to do things through unbroken law, then that is God's business, not ours. What is our business is the proper use of our God-given powers of sense and reason, to follow fearlessly where the quest for truth leads. Where it does not lead is to the pages of the book Of Pandas and People (Ruse 1989).

"Intelligent design" suffers from a fatal philosophical flaw:

[O]ne might suppose that if organisms are not ideally adapted, if they have characteristics that are not adaptations, they could not have been intelligently designed-or at least the designer couldn't come up with the right materials or the right plan. A designer wouldn't equip organisms with useless appurtenances; yet every species has vestigial structures that may once have been adaptive but are adaptive no longer. Every species also has characteristics that are not now and never were adaptive-characteristics that are the "side effects" of genes that serve some other adaptive function (Futuyma 1995, 128-9).

Presumably the intelligent designer is not so intelligent!

The premise of Pandas is the faulty notion that science should proceed from the supernatural to the natural. Science, by definition, is based on studying the natural world. We do not have Hindu science or Mormon science or Catholic science or Protestant science; we just have science. If the apparently fundamentalist-inspired Pandas is allowed into the classroom, then every religious group can claim with equal justification to have its books included too.

In the 1982 Arkansas court case on teaching creationism (Rev Bill McLean et al. v. Arkansas Board of Education), Judge William R Overton defined science in his ruling against the teaching of creationism (Gilkey 1985; Pennock 1999):
  1. It is guided by natural law;
  2. It has to be explanatory by reference to natural law;
  3. It is testable against the empirical world;
  4. Its conclusions are tentative, that is, they are not necessarily the final word; and
  5. It is falsifiable.

"Intelligent design" fails these tests. Furthermore, Overton (and others) found that "intelligent design" promotes a particular sectarian view in violation of the First Amendment.

Pandas co-author Percival Davis has exposed his biblical literalist bias in a book (A Case for Creation) that he wrote with Wayne Frair: "We accept by faith the revealed fact that God created living things. We believe God simultaneously created those crucial substances (nucleic acids, proteins, and so on) that are so intricately interdependent in all of life's processes, and that He created them already functioning in living cells" (quoted in Pennock 1999, 162). The notion that God operated in an evolutionary way (as accepted by the Catholic Church, mainstream Protestant churches, and various American Jewish organizations) seems not to have affected Davis.

The other co-author, Dean Kenyon, was "an erstwhile origin of life researcher who became discouraged about the whole field and subsequently [lent his name in support of YEC [young-earth creationist] activism..." (Pennock 1999, 162). With no scientific support, Pandas tries to be both "young earth" and "old earth" (see page 92). Young-earth creationists believe that the earth along with the entire universe was created 6000 to 10 000 years ago. To date, there is no recognized scientific support in any field of science for such a belief. There have been many years of student complaints about Dean Kenyon's teaching at San Francisco State University, mainly centered on allegations that he is more interested in what amounts to religious proselytizing than in teaching peer-reviewed biology (Scott 1994). From the foregoing, one would suspect that if Pandas were adopted in biology classes, the next step would be to insist that anthropology, geology, physics, chemistry, and astronomy courses be changed to fit with a literal interpretation of the Bible.

Professor Douglas J Futuyma summed up the issue best with his observation:

Suppose creationism had equal time in science classes. What would be taught? If creationists teach that the universe and all its inhabitants were suddenly created a few thousand years ago, and that all of extinction and all of geology were caused by a universal flood, what more can they say? Shall they provide scientific evidence that explains why blue-green algae are in the lowest geological strata and flowering plants in the uppermost? Shall they explain, in terms of modern biology, how a million or more species of animals fit into the ark? Shall they provide evidence from modern physics that explains away the fact that we can perceive light from stars that are billions of light years away, and took billions of years to get here? Shall they provide a testable hypothesis to explain the genetic similarity of apes and humans? Will they describe experiments that elucidate the mechanisms of creation, as geneticists have the mechanisms of evolution? You will seek in vain for answers... (Futuyma 1995, 215-6).

Pandas commits the philosophical error of assuming that because our minds see order there must be an intelligent designer. But a number of laboratory experiments (see, for example, Amabilino and Stoddart 1994, Futuyma 1995, and Ingber 1998) have shown that matter can self-organize. Scientists have even observed single-celled amoebas self-organizing into a sort of multicellular creature (Zimmer 1998). Studies in the mathematical field of complexity theory have shown that chaotic systems can exhibit patterns that look like order. Computer studies have shown how evolution can work (see, for example, Dawkins 1986 and chapter 2 of Pennock 1999). In short, Of Pandas and People fails to deal with the very real probability that order is intrinsic in nature and not superimposed.

Finally, by assuming that life originated by "intelligent design", Pandas opens up a number of questions it fails to answer, such as "Who or what is the intelligent designer?" and "Who or what created the intelligent designer?"

Using the arguments in Pandas, one could equally well support the view advanced by the Raëlian Movement "that intelligent aliens landed here millennia ago in spaceships and formed all of life on earth, including human beings, using highly advanced genetic engineering" (Pennock 1999, 234). If one put Pandas in the classroom, in fairness one would also have to put in the Raëlian book The Book That Tells The Truth. As Professor of Philosophy Robert T Pennock has observed, if we allow Pandas, we would also have to allow "textbooks that advocate Claude Vorilhon's Raëlian model, the Swami Prabhupade's cyclical Hindu model, and so on. As they say, this way lies madness" (Pennock 1999, 368).

Pandas tries to bias the reader by the choice of words the authors use to describe the two positions they discuss. Scientists are referred to as "Darwinists" as if to say that all scientists are followers of some religious guru named Darwin. In light of new information, evolutionary science has moved beyond Darwin's original ideas and so scientists working in the field of evolution should properly be referred to as "scientists". Using the verbal tactics of the authors of Pandas, one would have to refer to advocates of "intelligent design" as "Morrisites" (in acknowledgment of the biblical literalist Henry M Morris who was instrumental in founding the modern fundamentalist belief known as creationism or "intelligent design").

Perhaps Kevin Padian, Professor of Integrative Biology and Curator in the Museum of Paleontology at the University of California, Berkeley, said it best:

Of Pandas and People is a tract on hard-shell fundamentalist creationism in disguise. This underlying theme never speaks its name in this tract, but it is there nonetheless. It is hard to say what is worst in this book: the misconceptions of its sub-text, the intolerance for honest science, or the incompetence with which science is presented. In any case, teachers should be warned against using this book (Padian 1989).

The complete list of references is contained in the longer "Review of the book Of Pandas and People: The Central Question of Biological Origins (second edition)" by Gary L Bennett, which will be available soon on The Textbook Letter web site. Other reviews of Pandas from The Textbook League are available on line at .


Amabilino D, Stoddart F. Molecules that build themselves. New Scientist 1994 Feb 19: 25-9.

Darwin CR. The Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. NY: Avenue Books, 1979 [originally published in 1859].

Dawkins R. The Blind Watchmaker. NY: WW Norton & Company, 1986.

Futuyma DJ. Science on Trial: The Case for Evolution. Sunderland (MA): Sinauer Associates, Inc, 1995.

Gilkey L. Creationism on Trial: Evolution and God at Little Rock. Minneapolis (MN): Winston Press, Inc, 1985.

Ingber DE. The architecture of life. Scientific American 1998 Jan; 278 (1): 48-57.

NAS (1999) Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences, 2nd edition. Washington (DC): National Academy Press, 1999.

Padian K. Gross misrepresentation. Bookwatch Reviews 1989; 2 (11): xxx-xxx.

Padian K, Chiappe LM. The origin of birds and their flight. Scientific American 1998 Feb; 278 (2): 38-47.

Pennock RT. Tower of Babel: The Evidence against the New Creationism. The MIT Press, Cambridge (MA), 1999.

Pennisi E, Roush W. Developing a new view of evolution. Science 1997 Jul 4; 277 (5322): 34-7.

Ruse M. They're here! Bookwatch Reviews 1989; 2 (11): xxx-xxx.

Scott EC. Dean Kenyon and "intelligent design theory" at San Francisco State U. NCSE Reports 1993/1994; 13 (4)/14 (1): 1, 5, 13.

Zimmer C. The slime alternative. Discover 1998 Sep; 19 (9): 86-93.

An Interview with Edward J Larson

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
An Interview with Edward J Larson
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
Karl W Giberson is Professor of Physics and Director of the General Science Program, and Donald A Yerxa is Professor of History and Director of the Pre-Law Program, both at Eastern Nazarene College.

[Edward J Larson won a Pulitzer Prize in 1998 for his book Summer for the Gods - a re-examination of the events surrounding the Scopes trial and of the people involved in it. During a visit to Eastern Nazarene College on October 21, 1999, Larson spoke with Karl Giberson and Donald Yerxa. We have excerpted portions of that interview to present to readers of RNCSE. Larson did not receive, review, or revise the published text of the interview.]

Giberson: Can you give our readers some background about yourself, particularly mentioning your formative religious experiences?

Larson: I was raised in rural central-southern Ohio. My parents were members of the Congregational Church, which was probably the most liberal church in my hometown. We were not very active at all, though we did go to church occasionally. Evolution was just assumed in my high school. I took a lot of science classes and was very interested in the sciences. I believe that we used the BSCS texts, but we might have used a revised edition of Truman Moon's Modern Biology II.

Yerxa: Have there been any instances in your life when you struggled over issues related to science and religion?

Larson: Not really. I mostly come from a science background, and I have not noticed any particular conflict in my own mind. I have not studied it closely, but to the extent that I have, I think that Stephen Jay Gould's "non-overlapping magisteria" is a nice way to articulate it.

Yerxa: What prompted you - a recipient of multiple high school science awards - to pursue both a doctorate in history at Wisconsin and a law degree and Harvard?

Larson: In high school I took a lot of science and math, but I always loved history. As a kid I just thoroughly enjoyed reading history, and, even though I did not get much history instruction in high school, I taught myself history and went ahead and took the Advanced Placement exams in both European and American history at the end of my high school years. When I was an undergraduate at Williams College, I learned that there was a field called the history of science. Williams had a historian of science named Donald Beaver, and I took his class and suddenly it brought together two interests, my persistent love of nature and the understanding of how nature operates - which is why I like science - and my love of history. So suddenly I could study the history of science.

Yerxa: What was the topic of your doctoral dissertation?

Larson: Initially, my major professor Dave Lindberg encouraged me to cross disciplines and get a law degree. The law courses served as my minor for the PhD at Wisconsin, but beyond that, law enriched my scholarship. I thought that I was going to write in the area of eugenics, but the untimely death of Bill Coleman, a historian of biology at Wisconsin, presented me with the opportunity to have Ronald Numbers as my major professor and I ended up working with him. He pushed me in a direction that I would not otherwise have gone in, but have ever after found interesting. Since Numbers was working on the history of the creation/evolution controversy, and he knew I had this legal background, he encouraged me to work on the legal history of the creation/evolution controversy, so that is primarily what my dissertation dealt with. It was a little broader than that in the sense that it deals with how courts deal with legal questions, but it primarily deals with the creation/evolution controversy throughout history. The dissertation became my first book, Trial and Error.

Yerxa: How did you decide to write a book on the Scopes trial? Did you feel that there was some sort of misunderstanding of the trial in the historical literature?

Larson: It was a bit serendipitous how I ended up with the topic. Certainly in the background there was the fact that I knew the trial was not very well understood. During my dissertation research, I had looked a little bit into the Scopes trial, and in Trial and Error there is a very small passage, a couple of pages, on it. But in researching just that little snippet on the Scopes trial, I had discovered that there was a rich body of archival literature on the trial that no historian had ever used. The last serious book on the Scopes trial was from the 1950s, and that relied almost exclusively on a reading of newspapers in the period. And I knew the ACLU archives were available and open. Of course Bryan's archives had been open, but they had not been used very much. Clarence Darrow's papers were available, but I also knew that there were some additional sources of information. In particular, Judge Hicks, who had been one of the prosecutors, had saved all the correspondence among members of the prosecution team, and he had subsequently put it into the University of Tennessee archives. Up to that point those documents simply had not been used by any other historian.

So I now knew that there was quite a bit of archival material. Moreover, the main treatments of the trial were written in the shadow of McCarthyism and the threat to popular and individual liberty based on mob action and emotionalism. Inherit the Wind and Six Days or Forever?: Tennessee v John Thomas Scopes (Ray Ginger's scholarly book of the same period) were consciously and explicitly written with McCarthy-era witch hunts of communists and socialists in mind and were looking back at the Scopes trial as an earlier episode of all this. Then in the 1990s we have a new perspective on fundamentalism and anti-evolutionism. They are still alive in the US; they were not slain in Dayton. And that was always part of the premise of Inherit the Wind and Six Days or Forever? - that exposing Bryan killed these movements. But it did not. So now in a sense we have better historical perspective for looking at those documents. And that is the foundation for doing constructive history - new archival material and a new perspective that previous historians haven't been able to bring to bear on the topic.

The actual precipitant that made Summer for the Gods happen was much more pedestrian, however. During the middle of the OJ Simpson trial, one of my colleagues suggested, out of the blue, that I write a book on the Scopes trial. Not knowing any of what I knew about the archival material or the added perspective, he knew that I wrote legal history and was trained in the history of science. While he was watching the OJ Simpson trial, he concluded that I was one of the few people he knew with expertise in both of those fields. He kept hearing during the Simpson trial coverage about the other trials of the century, and in particular about the Scopes trial. Here was one event in history that seemed to involve law and science together. And when he said that, it just clicked immediately. It made sense, and I immediately thought that it was a great topic.

Yerxa: What would you like the reader to take away from Summer for the Gods?

Larson: I usually do not try to put myself in the reader's mind. I am trying just to tell a story that I enjoy telling, and whatever readers draw from it is their business. I appreciate the richness of a historical event and how nothing important in history is ever simple. There are many currents and crosscurrents and factors involved. I don't see these individual characters as sort of simple, 2-dimensional figures, but 3-dimensional figures with a richness and dignity. And I would hope that people would draw out the richness of the historical event and the many factors that play into it.

I did not go into the Scopes trial doing the research for Summer for the Gods with a particularly high opinion of either Clarence Darrow or William Jennings Bryan. What has impressed me throughout my life is that whenever you treat people honestly at their own level, when you get to understand them more, you get to appreciate them more. I read much of what Bryan and Darrow wrote and tried really to immerse myself in them, so I could understand them as people. And I ended my research with a much higher opinion of those 2 great Americans than when I started. I am not asking that my readers also end with a higher opinion of Bryan and Darrow. But since I came out that way, I would hope that they would as well. I would hope that they would treat them on their own terms and grow to respect what Clarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan were doing. And when we understand what they were doing, and we understand what was at stake, I think that it makes the situation today more understandable.

Yerxa: Has winning the Pulitzer Prize changed your life significantly?

Larson: With the prize come more distractions - invitations to speak, invitations to write on topics that don't have any relevance to what I am doing. It is far more difficult to control my own schedule. But there are also wonderful opportunities that come, for example, chances to go out and meet Jerome Lawrence, the co-writer of Inherit the Wind, and opportunities to speak at interesting occasions and to meet other people and to try to help students and help the cause of history. I am in this respect first and foremost a historian, and I am interested in the discipline of history. Now people ask me about historical questions and about becoming a historian and the value of doing history, and I can be an evangelist for history and the role of history. I enjoy that. So it is a mixed blessing, and the challenge is to maximize the good out of it while not being sucked into the bad and not losing my own control over what I think my career should be.

Yerxa: What are your current projects?

Larson: I am working on a book on the history of scientific research on the Galapagos Islands, which has the same advantage as a book on the Scopes trial in the sense that I think that it is an absolutely fabulous topic. Everybody has heard of the Galapagos Islands just as everybody has heard of the Scopes trial, but nobody has ever written a history of the scientific research on the Galapagos Islands. There is a wonderful recent book on the Grants' work called The Beak of the Finch, but it is just about the work of Peter and Rosemary Grant. It is not a history of scientific research. It certainly does not deal with the past. I hope that I will be able, as with the Scopes book, to reach an audience beyond historians of science but that will include historians of science.

Yerxa: You have been involved in some sociology of science lately with your colleague Larry Witham. You have revisited James Leuba's 1914 and 1933 surveys of scientists to get a sense of how both rank and file scientists as well as the scientific elite view belief in God. What are your findings in a nutshell?

Larson: Well, it is a curious survey to have to repeat Leuba's question, because he had a very particular definition of God that may exclude many people. He was asking about belief in sort of a traditional theistic God that would resonate with traditional Jews, Muslims, or Christians. Indeed you might want to call them orthodox Jews, Muslims, and Christians. There was a lot of talk back at the turn of the century that positivism and science were routing belief in God, and so he did a survey of both the rank and file scientists and the elite scientists - surveys that we were able to reproduce. Leuba found about 40% belief in this sort of God among the rank and file and much lower levels of belief among elites, and that is exactly what we found.

He received many objections that "this God does not capture my God". He would get people who would write back and say that "I do not believe in any God, but I am deeply religious." He would also get people who said, "Well, I believe in a God that is immanent in nature, and I do not believe that this is a God that you can talk to or who can answer questions. Your question does not capture what I am talking about." We received the same sort of reactions, and I sympathize with them because I think they are right, but the only way you can do a longitudinal survey is to ask the same questions. As a historian, I was interested in Leuba's survey because it had been so important in the Scopes trial and Bryan's anti-evolution crusade. He had made it a centerpiece. His prime evidence against evolution was this disbelief among scientists, so I was interested in the precise question. And we found that it was basically constant over time.

Yerxa: What is it about the US that makes it so receptive to anti-Darwinian notions?

Larson: Partly because we're democratic. We have a democratic, anti-elitist tradition. There is a rooting for the underdog, and there is a suspicion of elites in the US that just is not as present in, say, France, Germany, or in Scandinavia where they have a traditional hierarchical society and where the people are more willing to defer automatically to elites in any particular area of expertise. We have more of a tradition in the US where citizens get to make up their own minds on everything, everyone is an expert and everyone is an authority, and no one should automatically follow other peoples' decisions - people should think for themselves. So that makes the US open to questioning the pronouncements of the scientific elite and to want to think through these questions for themselves and come to their own conclusions.

Yerxa: How do you explain the Phillip Johnson phenomenon and the emergence of "intelligent design" in the origins discussion?

Larson: I think that Johnson is a very articulate speaker and advocate. He is obviously a skilled lawyer, and he's raising popular concerns and questions in the sense that if you believe in a traditional Christian God - and it doesn't have to be a fundamentalist God - do you not believe that God could interfere in nature? And if you believe that God could interfere in nature, do you not believe that God did interfere in nature? And if God did interfere in nature, then how can you understand natural phenomena without at least considering God as the author of those? So his argument against philosophical naturalism in science, as he likes to put it, has an instinctive appeal to many Americans who believe in that sort of God.

Yerxa: Does this line of reasoning appeal to you?

Larson: Johnson has got to bring scientists into the debate, and there has to be a controversy within the scientific community. There have to be scientists who start doing "intelligent design" as science. And I have not yet seen that happen. But in the end, if he is going to change science, it is going to have to be through scientists and not through the general public.

Yerxa: You used the phrase "'intelligent design' as science". What would that look like?

Larson: That is for the scientists to decide. I can say that I am neither a scientist nor a philosopher. I am sort of a philosopher of science, and I take a mundane definition of science. I know you can come up with wonderful definitions about what science is: it is a falsifiable enterprise and a set of shifting paradigms, and so on, but I take the journeyman's view that science is what scientists do and that scientists define their profession just as other people define their profession. So I think the key test for "intelligent design" will come if and when scientists start doing "intelligent design" research. And only if and when they start doing it will we know what an "intelligent design" science looks like. And, as a historian, I am not a very good person to answer that question.

Giberson: Part of the reason for the success of Phillip Johnson is the perception that there are people like Richard Dawkins out there who are missionaries for naturalism with an agenda that goes far beyond just trying to help people understand evolution. Can you comment on the way people like Dawkins, Peter Atkins, even EO Wilson, are their own worst enemies in that they make science unpopular in American culture by attaching it to an aggressively anti-religious stance.

Larson: I do not think that they are their own worst enemies. I think that they are reaching a broad and powerful audience. Their works are inspirational to many people. And I think for all the people they turn off, they inspire a whole other group. Wilson's teaching at Harvard is inspirational; his writings are inspirational. Certainly he makes the feminists furious, but he also inspires a lot of critical thought. Dawkins makes many religious people furious, but he inspires them to think harder and debate the issue harder. I think that he wants that. I think that he wants to raise those questions, and I have met many students who have been profoundly inspired to go into science and make a career in science because of books like Dawkins's The Blind Watchmaker. So these writers are doing missionary work for science that is inspirational because of their tremendous skill as writers. And so I think that if you had to weigh the pluses and minuses against each other - and I do not think that I could do the final reckoning - that they would be quite pleased with what they have accomplished.

Giberson: If you look at the premier popularizers of science, the ones who are capable of inspiring young people to go into science - people like Dawkins, Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould, EO Wilson, and Stephen Weinberg - none of these people is religious in any conventional sense. Do the people who read them get a distorted perception of what the scientific community is like because these public spokespersons happen to have atheistic worldviews? And does it then become generalized in the popular mind that science itself is an atheistic enterprise, so that what Phillip Johnson says about the naturalism of science rings true?

Larson: When you put it that way, I do think that Phillip Johnson, by his own terms, was enraged and energized by reading The Blind Watchmaker. And I think that he uses them as examples of atheism in science. Yet even Johnson is probably raising up people to go into science, at first to refute them, but later they get involved with science and end up becoming good scientists participating in the scientific enterprise. I have great respect for the people you named. Every one of those people that I know personally, I have tremendous respect for as scholars and as honorable people. And I think that they welcome this debate and discussion, and they would rather have these issues out in the open and discussed and debated in the US so people can think about these issues.

But certainly I do think that they are lightning rods, and they raise controversy. As a result of the controversy they raise, there is a perception in the US that there is a warfare between science and religion. One of the reasons that our initial survey of science and religious beliefs got so much attention was that it found that 40% of scientists in the US believe in something like the traditional God of Judaism, Islam, and Christianity. And that was newsworthy. It is not newsworthy when a dog bites a person; it is newsworthy when a person bites a dog, and this was a person-bites-dog story. It was just the reverse, by the way, when Leuba first published his survey. It was also front-page news, but then it was only 40% believe in God. Now it is newsworthy for the opposite reason; 40% is a higher percentage than people today would have thought. Something must have given the impression at least to the US news media that it is surprising that 40% of US scientists believe in God. And that partly comes out with the public voice of science.

Giberson: In thinking about the creation/evolution controversy, what I find attractive about scientific creationism is the simplicity of its model. It is a tidy system based upon the priority of the Bible. What is attractive about Dawkins and that group is the same sort of simplicity. It is metaphysically consistent; it all fits together. In the middle are the people trying to carve out the theistic evolution models that somehow bring these 2 together, and they end up being ambiguous and fraught with difficulty and so on. What do you think of the attempts to create theistic evolutionary models?

Larson: It is nice to have simplistic answers to your views on origins or your worldview, but when people are thinking about their view of origins, they think about it with more richness than they are often given credit for. If they focus on this, they think about the options of, well, could God create the evolutionary process? Could that be the means of creation, or is it a purely naturalistic process? Or does God work in successive creations as Cuvier once thought? Or is the human soul separate as the Pope would say: the body evolved with the human soul separate? And they can come up with different reconciliations of those different views. I think that you do an injustice to the issue to think that people just have to put it simplistically into one category. To the extent that they focus on the issue, people can come up with some personal reconciliation of the 2 and then go ahead with their lives. I think that it does them an injustice to think that they are going to read an account by a scientist or by a religious person, and just say, that is it.

[This feature is adapted from a longer article appearing in Books and Culture: A Christian Review 1999 Nov/Dec; 5 [6]: 30; reprinted and adapted with permission.]

About the Author(s): 
Karl W Giberson
Department of Physics and Engineering
Eastern Nazarene College 23 East Elm Avenue
Quincy MA 02170

Donald A Yerxa
Department of History
Eastern Nazarene College
23 East Elm Avenue
Quincy MA 02170

Anti-Evolutionists Open a New Front

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Anti-Evolutionists Open a New Front
David Applegate
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
May 10, 2000, was just another day on Capitol Hill. With Congress in session, a dozen or so briefings took place as interest groups were eager to bring their issues before congressional staff. As such, there was nothing particularly remarkable about the briefing and reception by the Seattle-based Discovery Institute on this day. Nor was it surprising that the briefing was part of a broader strategy by the Institute to "cultivate and convince" opinion leaders and policy-makers, including congressional staff. What readers might find remarkable about this briefing was its topic: Scientific Evidence for Intelligent Design and its Implications for Public Policy and Education. It may be that this otherwise normal day was an early move by "Intelligent Design" creationists (IDCs) on their newest front in the struggle against evolution: the US Congress.

Last summer's events in Kansas rekindled the creation/evolution debate around the nation. The Associate Press rated it the top story of 1999. Since then, efforts to discredit evolution have intensified with conflicts raging in county school boards and state capitals. For much of the last 2 decades, the issue has been quintessentially local. But the May 10 briefing could represent a return to a national stage.

Leading Lights and Heavy Hitters

How well did the briefing succeed in reaching its target audience? Although only about 50 people attended, about a dozen members of Congress were involved - including 2 from the House Science Committee. These members served as honorary "hosts" for the briefing or introduced the speakers. Rep Charles Canady (R-Florida), chairman of the Subcommittee on the Constitution, arranged for the use of a House Judiciary Committee hearing room. Sen Sam Brownback (R-Kansas) and Rep Tom Petri (R-Wisconsin) warmly introduced several of the speakers. Petri is first in line to become chairman of the House Committee on Education and the Workforce at the end of this year. Thus, the committee responsible for federal education programs may be run next year by a man who expressed his hope for a "swelling chorus" of support for "intelligent design" theory.

Those who attended the briefing were treated to a 3-hour primer on ID creationism from some of the movement's best-known advocates, including Whitworth College philosophy professor Stephen Meyer, Lehigh University biology professor Michael Behe, and University of California law professor Phillip Johnson. All are fellows of the Discovery Institute's Center for the Renewal of Science and Culture (CRSC). Joining them was another CRSC fellow, Nancy Pearcey - the former executive editor of Breakpoint, a conservative talk radio show hosted by born-again Watergate figure Rev Charles Colson, with whom Pearcey writes a regular column.

A "Purely Scientific" Debate

Most of the ID advocates were excellent communicators. They stayed away from highly technical jargon except to amaze their audience with the incredible complexity of life. They transformed the listeners' amazement into laughter at scientists' trying to explain this complexity as the result of random, evolutionary processes. They led the audience to the "obvious" conclusion that life could only be the handiwork of an intelligent designer. Consider it Occam's razor run amok: confronted with 2 explanations, one that appears dizzyingly complicated and improbable, and another, disarmingly simple, choose simple. Choose design.

They did not thump Bibles. They did not try to convince the audience that dinosaurs are the "behemoth" of the Book of Job nor did they seek to explain that the Grand Canyon was formed during the Noachian flood. The IDCs voiced their acceptance of the depth of geologic time, modern genetics, even certain aspects of evolution itself. In fact, IDCs not only accept the advances of science, they argue that those advances have revealed a universe of physical and biological systems so complex that they could not possibly have come from evolutionary processes. Indeed, one theme was how "shocked" scientists have been by their discoveries of the awesome complexity of living systems. Shocked and disheartened, because their outmoded theories such as Darwinian evolution - adequate perhaps for the limited knowledge of the 19th century - cannot handle that complexity. This approach cleverly places ID theory at the cutting edge of scientific discovery while relegating Darwin to the dustbin of history.

Intelligent design, they said, is one side of a debate between 2 competing, empirically derived scientific theories - a debate, they claimed, that does not include religion. In their view, they are engaged in an open-minded investigation to follow the empirical evidence about life on earth wherever it leads. They contrast such openness with a rigid scientific orthodoxy that forcibly constrains explanations to purely natural phenomena, disallowing explanations that involve a higher intelligence. However, the tone of the Congressional briefing does not resonate with articles published by ID's "leading lights" in the nonscientific literature. For example, Pearcey wrote in the May 22 issue of Christianity Today: "Clearly, while [intelligent design theory] does not require any theological presuppositions, it has theological implications: It is resolutely opposed to the atheistic, purposeless, chance view of evolution taught in the power centers of science."

The speakers also tarred evolutionary theory with the controversial findings of social scientists who apply Darwinism to human interactions. Pearcey shocked the audience with a recent book that asserted rape was a natural male impulse driven by the need to confer evolutionary advantage. She also blamed Darwinism for the excesses of popular culture, quoting lyrics from a current hit song: "You and me, baby, ain't nothin' but mammals, so let's do it like they do on the Discovery Channel."

Ironically, the IDCs accept the achievements of science and indeed place their theory at the pinnacle of modern knowledge, but also demonize both the scientists who made those advances and the naturalistic method by which the advances were achieved. At the briefing Johnson replayed the portrayal of scientists from his popular books as an elite priesthood jealously guarding the power and prestige garnered from the ascendancy of their Darwin-inspired creation myth, having deposed the church's priests. There is a disconnect between the pains they take to portray the debate between ID and evolution as purely scientific and this separate line of argument portraying Darwinism as a religion.

The Political Landscape

I have previously asserted (Geotimes, October 1999) that the events in Kansas must serve as a wake-up call for scientists to get involved in their local school boards and in local and state governments. But I also suggested that they do so with their eyes open to the political landscape. IDCs are an important part of that landscape, and they have a sympathetic audience for their populist portrayal of scientists as an elite responsible for societal perversion. "Intelligent design" will be even more a part of the landscape if its partisans succeed in convincing the often warring factions among anti-evolutionist camps to unite under their big tent.

Why is this briefing so important to those interested in quality science education? The Discovery Institute chose to hold its briefing at the same time that both the House and Senate were actively considering legislation to overhaul federal K-12 education programs. Scientific societies and other interested groups faced serious challenges as they tried to retain provisions in new federal legislation which supports and strengthens science and math education. If anti-evolutionists move into the Congressional arena and gain support from leading members of Congress, good science will face an even tougher challenge. Their efforts threaten to erode science education at the very moment when our technology-based society needs it more than ever.

For a summary of the May 10, 2000, Congressional briefing, visit www.agiweb.org/gap/legis106/id_update.html.

[Adapted with permission from David Applegate's column in Geotimes 2000 Jul; 45 (7): 12, 58.] David Applegate directs the American Geological Institute's Government Affairs Program and is editor of Geotimes.

Darwinism in "Crisis" - Again

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Darwinism in "Crisis" - Again
Steven B Hunter
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
When I heard of a conference that would introduce a scientific means of proving divine intervention in the natural world, thereby falsifying evolution, I knew I had to be there. So, on the evening of December 1, 1999, I headed off to La Mirada, a suburb of Los Angeles, to witness "Darwinism in Crisis - The New Challenge From Intelligent Design Theory".

The event was presented by the Master of Arts program in Christian Apologetics of Biola University (formerly the Bible Institute of Los Angeles). When all was said and done, it was quite clear that the purpose of the evening was to provide Christian apologetics and not science. We were to meet in an 800 seat lecture hall, but 1800 people showed up. The overflow was moved to the gymnasium where a closed circuit TV link had been set up.

By the time I settled into my seat in the bleachers overlooking the Biola Eagles' basketball court, the greetings and introductions had been completed and Phillip E Johnson, professor of law at UC Berkeley and author of Darwin on Trial, was holding forth on his idea of the Wedge. The Wedge is Johnson's strategy for separating science from philosophical naturalism, which he insists is the only basis upon which evolution could be accepted. Once he, as the sharp tip of the Wedge, has exploited the philosophical flaws in atheistic evolution to undo its death grip on modern theories of origins, others - scientists, philosophers and theologians, the wide end of the Wedge - would rush in to fill the void with a more "God-centered" theory.

Representatives of the wide end of The Wedge followed Johnson to the podium. A scheduling snafu caused the cancellation of the next planned talk, "DNA by Design", by Stephen C Meyer, PhD. I was disappointed to miss one of the 2 scheduled scientists. After all, I had come to see a scientific falsification of the theory of evolution. Someone remarked that to demonstrate that there was real science going on there would be slides and a laser pointer.

Paul A Nelson, PhD, a developmental biologist, was next, with a talk on "Intelligent Design and the Cambrian Explosion". He began with a chart illustrating Darwin's prediction that the history of life should exhibit ever-increasing diversity. He then compared it to his own bar graph showing the diversity of phyla as greatest during the Cambrian, then reducing and holding constant until the present. "There will never be an explanation", he insisted, for the paleontological record's being at such odds with Darwin's theory. No mention was made of the poor quality of the Precambrian and Cambrian fossil record nor of what including classes, orders, families, genera, and species might do to his bar graph nor of any number of evolutionary factors that are relevant to such a discussion. Nor did Nelson discuss how evolutionary biology has changed and matured since Darwin's early formulation of the theory.

He followed up with an argument from his own area of expertise. He contended that the genetic mechanisms that control cell differentiation and organization in a complex animal must have been in place and fully functional before the evolutionary processes that theoretically created them could have any effect. This is the same sort of cart-before-the-horse argument as Michael Behe's irreducible complexity, except at a larger scale - and it has the same flaws. There is no recognition of the fact that nature rarely gets from point A to point B via a straight line. A bat's wing, for example, did not develop as a wing one bone at a time. It was adapted from an arm for climbing, which in turn was adapted from a limb for crawling, which in turn was adapted from a fin for swimming.

Nelson's talk was to the extent of the scientific discourse for the evening. I was left with the impression that the closest we had come to real science was indeed the inclusion of slides and a laser pointer. That joke was not so funny after all.

Philosophers JP Moreland and John Mark Reynolds completed the program with talks on "Intelligent Design and Human Personhood" and "Intelligent Design: The History of a Concept", respectively. Moreland expounded on the idea that atheistic evolution is in direct opposition to human dignity, justice, and human rights. Reynolds described how society had come to be in the evil grip of such a vile concept as godless naturalism. I heard no new insights. There was no scientific proof of anything.

It is worth noting that the common thread of all of these talks was that the theory of evolution is necessarily atheistic and is therefore the cause of all of the major ills of Western society. Whether this is a straw man argument cynically used to whip up the faithful or an honest misunderstanding of the nature of science, the result is the same. There will be no easing of the passionate opposition to the teaching of evolution until this concern is effectively addressed.


Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Jere H Lipps
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.

I've been Hammed! Answers in Genesis (AIG) Executive Director Ken Ham has taken me to task for my keynote address to Dinofest '98 in Philadelphia. My talk was about American scientific illiteracy (extending to over 95% of adults), how the media contribute to it, and some remedies for the situation. I have given my talk perhaps 25 times from Limestone, Maine, to Long Beach, California, and the usual response I have had is "terrific", "great", "funny". But Ham did not like it, writing in the Answers in Genesis Newsletter (1998: 8) that I was "rather emotional ... critical, bitter, and intolerant of any view that differed from [my] own concerning evolution and dinosaurs - including a tirade against many beliefs, including creationism." Emotional? Well, I'd rather say that I was impassioned. Critical? Yes, but of the media - television in particular. Bitter and intolerant? Maybe I was, but not of creationism, UFOlogy, astrology, or a host of other pseudosciences, but of scientific illiteracy, which lets them flourish. But if Ham somehow equates creationism with scientific illiteracy, who am I to object?

I was "Hammed" because the good sense, reason and science literacy I call for are threats to creationists. They fear these, for their own tirades (or "battles", as they like to call them) against evolution will be less compelling if their audiences acquire these attributes. My point in writing here is to note just how sensitive Ham and his kind are, and how he twists reality to fit his own needs. He uses a common strategy on me, and a closer look at what he did may help us to understand how these folks work. Basically, I was simply a good excuse to rouse the troops.

In fact, Ham purposefully confuses the point of my talk. My talk was not about dinosaurs or even evolution. I know nothing much about dinosaurs, although I am an evolutionist through and through. Because I only had 45 minutes rather than my usual hour and a quarter, I reduced my comments about almost everything except science illiteracy, the media hyping of pseudoscience, and what we can do to get reasonable science incorporated into television programs. One slide stated that religion, science, and pseudoscience are different ways to view the world, but I made no comment about religion at all. I showed another slide listing some paranormal beliefs, and creationism was on the list. But again I made no comment about it. My example of pseudoscientific ignorance was UFO beliefs, because that is a very funny subject; whereas, by contrast, I find little that is humorous about creationism. I focused on scientific illiteracy in this country and how the media contributed to it with a variety of fraudulent programming, including "The Mysterious Origins of Man", a television program (and now a video series) that every good creationist should object to as much as evolutionists should (see NCSE Reports 1995; 15 [4]: 1 and sidebar). I suggested how the media could present science in a reasonable, compelling, and profitable way, if it cared to.

Ham "Hammed" me on that too. He implores his readers to "join the battle" against us evolutionists who are trying to use "the media to brainwash the public in evolutionary thinking." (Ironically, Ham's own article ends with an appeal for creationists to use dinosaurs to reach people about creationism.) He emphasized that I wanted to recruit the media aggressively "to ensure that writers present evolution as science and as fact - and to do it often." Not true. What I said was that television writers, in particular, should present science - and present it often. Insofar as evolution is part of science, it should be presented too. But I am far more concerned with getting people to understand how science works than in presenting evolution. That will come when the demon-haunted world is no more.


These references, including the last one about creationism, put my views about scientific literacy, pseudoscience, and the media on record.

Ham K. The dinosaur agenda. Answers in Genesis Newsletter 1998 June; 5: 8. . Last accessed August 7, 2000.

Lipps JH. The decline of reason? In: Scotchmoor J, McKinney FK, editors. Learning from the Fossil Record, Paleontological Society Special Papers 1996; 2: 3-10.

Lipps JH. The media, trash science and paleontology. Palaeontologica Electronica 1998. . Last accessed August 7, 2000.

Lipps JH. Beyond reason - Science in the mass media. In Schopf JW, editor. Evolution, Facts and Fallacies. San Diego (CA): Academic Press, 1999. p 71-90.

Lipps JH. Paleontology challenged! Palaeontologica Electronica 1999. . Last accessed August 7, 2000.

About the Author(s): 
Jere H Lipps is a professor in the Department of Integrative Biology, University of California at Berkeley. He is an outspoken critic of media presentations of pseudoscience, for which NCSE presented him with its Friend of Darwin Award in 1998.

In Memory of Bob Schadewald

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
In Memory of Bob Schadewald
Eugenie C Scott
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.

Bob was a technical writer by profession, but he was known to NCSE members and many others as a researcher of the scientifically quirky. The creation/evolution issue occupied much of his time, but his true specialty was the turn-of-the-century flat-earth, geocentric, and hollow-earth movements. It would not be an exaggeration to say that he was truly the authority on these early pseudosciences, about which he wrote several articles.

He assembled an unusually complete library of materials on these enthusiasms, including original books and pamphlets as well as copies of obscure and one-of-a-kind items archived at libraries in the US and abroad. Bob was a bibliophile's bibliophile: whenever he visited a city, he inevitably would check the library's holdings, and he always made the rounds of used book stores. Bob's library reflected his fascination with how science could be distorted, spun around, and turned inside out to justify false claims, whether those of special creation, or the even more bizarre "theory" of a hollow earth. He delighted in pointing out similarities in how geocentrists, flat-earthers, and creationists marshaled their arguments. One of his prize possessions was a framed certificate declaring him a member of the International Flat Earth Society, headed by Charles K Johnson, of Lancaster, California. He was always happy to relate the story of how Johnson rescinded his membership after he discovered that Bob possessed "spherical tendencies".

When I broke the news of his death to various friends and associates, the universal response was dismay that Bob had died so young, depriving us of his intelligence, his knowledge, his wit, and his company. "He knew so much!" was a common lament, and indeed, Bob had a wealth of information, seemingly retrievable on a moment's reflection. I know that I relied a lot on his mental encyclopedia as well as on his keen insight into the people and ideas of the creationism controversy.

For Bob, more than any of us, personally knew and was friends with many of the people whose ideas we disagree with. Readers of RNCSE (and its predecessor, NCSE Reports, which Bob once edited) will recall Bob's published analyses of quadrennial International Creationism Conferences, which he faithfully attended. There was never any question that he disagreed profoundly with the "research" presented at these meetings, and he gave no quarter in vigorous debate with the creationists participating in these meetings, but he saw no contradiction in going out afterward for a beer with these same adversaries. He made a distinction between creationists whom he considered sincere and who treated the scientific data on evolution fairly (even if they rejected it), and others whom he considered "snake-oil salesmen". When one creationist recently lost most of his personal library in a fire, Bob generously boxed up duplicate copies of his books on the creation/evolution controversy and shipped them off. There are a number of creationists who personally will miss Bob, even though they may not miss his barbed criticisms of their scientific statements or his astute dissections of their logic.

Bob resigned from the NCSE Board of Directors in the mid-1990s, citing increased demands of work as well as some personal reasons. But he remained an "on-call" advisor to me and other Board members, and was a strong proponent of NCSE to the general public. He maintained informal email connections to many other "creationism fighters", sharing information and suggesting strategy up until the last week of his life.

Once, after a typically long NCSE board meeting, a group of us had gone out for dinner. Immersed as we were in the creation and evolution controversy, after a few drinks, we started talking about creationist "scientific models" — laughing about the convolutions of data and theory required to accommodate scientific data within a 6-day creationist model. Much of the conversation consisted of "and can you believe that they actually think…?" as we regaled one another with examples of creationists' apparent ability to believe at least 7 impossible things before breakfast. We were having a pretty good time at the opposition's expense, when Bob looked up and said, "You know, somewhere, there's probably a bunch of creationists sitting around a table, drinking beer, and saying, 'those evolutionists! Can you believe they actually think…?'"

We're going to miss him.

Of Mousetraps and Men: Behe on Biochemistry

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Of Mousetraps and Men: Behe on Biochemistry
Niall Shanks and Karl Joplin
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.

In Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution, biochemist Michael Behe claims that biochemical systems exhibit a special kind of complexity - irreducible complexity - that cannot possibly have evolved and must have resulted from intelligent design. Like other intelligent-design creationists, Behe is vague about both the identity and methods of his intelligent designer, though he does distinguish between the hypothesis of natural design (by space aliens, perhaps) and that of supernatural design (1996, 248-9).

As Behe is aware, postulating intelligent design by space aliens only postpones a confrontation with the problem of the origins of complexity. After all, who designed the designers? Thus the unwary reader is pointed in the direction of a supernatural, undesigned designer. But if you were puzzled by biochemical complexity in the first place, this latter hypothesis, involving as it does an unknown supernatural being that employs unknown materials and methods, can hardly result in a net reduction of mystification.

Luckily we do not have to settle this matter. It turns out that Behe's intelligent design hypothesis is the result of his failure to consider relevant natural processes when trying to account for the origins of biochemical complexity. This problem arises in turn because Behe thinks about biochemical complexity with the aid of a misleading mechanical analogy - the well-designed mousetrap. The mechanical mousetrap is to Michael Behe what the mechanical watch was to William Paley. And it goes without saying that machines have designers.

So how should we think about design and designers? We will argue first that the historical process of the intelligent human design of technological artifacts, such as mousetraps, needs to be sharply differentiated from the hypothetical magical process of supernatural design and creation ex nihilo (literally from nothing). In fact, Behe's case derives its appeal from a failure to examine the details of the human design process. Naturally, he provides no details whatsoever of the hypothetical supernatural design process. Secondly, we will show why the mousetrap analogy fails to do justice to the richness of biochemical complexity. And thirdly, we will offer a conceptual framework that explains the origins of the irreducible complexity Behe finds so mysterious (see also Behe 2000). The key, as we shall argue, is that most real biochemical systems exhibit a type of complexity that we term redundant complexity: a form of complexity that results from natural evolutionary processes amenable to scientific study.

The Mousetrap Model of Biochemical Complexity

Behe's central thesis is that the biochemical systems we find in living organisms manifest irreducible complexity. He further contends that processes of the kind invoked in evolutionary biology cannot explain the origin of irreducibly complex biochemical systems. Behe explains:

By irreducibly complex I mean a single system composed of several well-matched, interacting parts that contribute to the basic function, wherein the removal of any one of the parts causes the system to effectively cease functioning. An irreducibly complex system cannot be produced directly (that is, by continuously improving the initial function, which continues to work by the same mechanism) by slight, successive modifications of a precursor system, because any precursor to an irreducibly complex system that is missing a part is by definition nonfunctional (1996: 39).

Behe contends that although intelligent design processes of the kind we find in engineering, for example, can give rise to irreducibly complex systems, evolutionary processes cannot.

Behe employs an analogy with well-designed mousetraps. A mousetrap has several components, all of which are necessary for catching mice. A precursor "trap" that lacked one of the components - the spring, the trigger, or the platform, perhaps - could not trap mice. Lacking even minimal function, it could not be improved through incremental adaptive evolution to become a functioning trap. We already know that mousetraps require intelligent human designers. Behe argues that functioning biochemical systems are like mousetraps. They could not have evolved through incremental adaptive evolution, and must be the products of super-human intelligent design. This argument, like all design arguments, has a surface plausibility. It is too bad that those who rely on design arguments have never taken the time to think clearly about what is actually involved in the intelligent human design of technological artifacts.

The Origin of Artifacts

It is essential to differentiate between the actual behavior of intelligent human designers on the one hand and the hypothetical action of a supernatural being on the other hand. Human engineers do not create or manufacture anything ex nihilo, nor are the processes of design secular miracles; to suggest otherwise is misleading. For ordinary objects like mousetraps, we can infer that they are designed without having any knowledge of their designer. Why? Because we all know that mousetraps are artifacts, and by definition artifacts have designers.

But, by studying the history of artifacts and engaging in reverse engineering, we can often uncover the identities of actual human designers, as well as the methods and materials they employed. That is why it is important to study the processes of human design, and not just the design itself. Can we analogously study the design process of the hypothetical supernatural designer? No proponent of supernatural design - not St. Thomas Aquinas, not Archdeacon Paley, not Michael Behe and his numerous sympathizers - has ever offered the slightest clue about how this could be done scientifically.

Intelligent design theorists, noting that various biochemical systems give the appearance of being designed, aim to argue that they are, like artifacts, actually the products of design. However, if they are not like artifacts - if the appearance of design is deceiving - then all bets are off. Although a biochemical system might give the appearance of being designed, the conclusion that the system actually results from design could be made evidentially respectable if, for example, we can find some compelling scientific evidence concerning the methods and materials employed, and also some compelling historical evidence concerning the identity of the designer.

Why should this be so? The reason lies in a fundamental difference between things such as mousetraps or watches, on the one hand, and things such as biochemical systems, on the other. Mousetraps and watches are antecedently known to be artifacts, and hence to have human designers (even if their identities and methods are obscure). For these objects, the question of design can often be safely separated from the questions of how designed and by whom.

But in the case of the alleged intelligent design of biochemical systems, these questions are all inextricably intertwined precisely because it is not known antecedently that biochemical systems result from deliberate design by a non-human agent (or agents) of supernatural origin. The very claim of design itself requires evidential justification. Providing evidentially grounded answers to the questions of how and by whom these systems were designed would simultaneously provide powerful evidence that the systems were indeed designed - a matter sorely in need of justification. This issue is made all the more acute because naturalistic evolutionary hypotheses exist to explain the same features that lead Behe to postulate a designer; one is presented below. For this reason, the features of biochemical systems that Behe points to cannot simply be viewed as the registered trademark of the creator or the hallmark of design. Behe has made an extraordinary claim, and its validation will require extraordinary evidence. Behe makes no attempt to meet this evidential requirement.

Moreover, in his argument Behe cavalierly ignores common facts about the human design process, which, like biological evolution itself, involves descent with modification. The intelligent human design of artifacts is frequently a historical process resulting from the generation of variation on existing technological themes along with selective retention of specific variants for further elaboration. Human engineers have long known that the problem-solving process is a historical, tinkering, trial-and-error process.

Indeed, it is the ability to produce multiple variants on themes, by varying parameters, that makes modeling and simulation such a powerful tool in the design of technological artifacts such as aircraft (Vincenti 1990). Even at the dawn of powered flight, the Wright brothers built, tested, and discarded numerous models in wind-tunnel tests. Many variants based on existing glider designs were tried, but only a few were chosen and selected for further elaboration. The ultimate fruit of this trial-and-error process was a powered machine adapted to an aerial niche! It was not magically created by some human intellectual whirlwind using pieces of junkyard scrap.

The concept of supernatural intelligent design derives at least some of its appeal from the fact that we humans have actual experience of the intelligent design of artifacts. But when what is involved in human design is properly understood, do we really want to understand the hypothetical supernatural design process by analogy with the bungling, tinkering, trial-and-error process of our own experience? And if the supernatural process is different from the human process, how is it different? And how could we settle disputes between rival hypotheses about the details of the supernatural design process? Until these issues are addressed, biochemistry's mysteries will not be solved through the invocation of supernatural design, because until they are dealt with, the appeal to supernatural design will be effectively no different from the claim that it all happened by magic. If ever there was an explanatory black box, this is it!

Perhaps our point is now clear. But if it is not, let us elaborate using some examples given by Gary Cziko:

In 1793, Eli Whitney's cotton gin that removed seeds from short-stapled cotton was based on the Indian charka, which had been in use for thousands of years to remove seeds from long-stapled cotton. Joseph Henry's electric motor of 1831 copied many of the mechanisms involved in the steam engine. The development of the first transistor at Bell Laboratories in 1947 ... owed much to the work of German physicist Ferdinand Braun who, in the 1870s, found that certain crystals conduct electricity in only one direction (1995: 163).

What at first glance might appear to be an ahistorical special human creation is really an artifact belonging to an historical lineage, where new artifacts result from the same variation-and-selection processes that are the staple of evolutionary explanations.

To see how this works, consider intelligently designed jet engines. These are clearly a different species of technological artifact from intelligently designed water-wheels. Yet over the last three hundred years we can trace a line of descent from water wheels to water turbines, and then from water turbines to steam turbines, gas turbines, and jet engines, with variation-and-selection processes playing important roles in all the major engineering transitions.

Needless to say, jet engines did not descend in a simple linear fashion from water wheels. Rather these artifacts emerged through processes involving horizontal transfers of modules from other evolving technological lineages (for example, fuel technologies, metallurgical technologies, and so on). The new modules were further modified as they were gradually incorporated through trial-and-error processes leading to the development of symbiotic relationships.

Interestingly, although there are some obvious and important differences between technological and biological evolution - the former is best explained in terms of intelligent (human) design, whereas the latter is not - they do not differ with respect to having benefited from horizontal module exchanges.

Horizontal transfers play an important role in biological evolution. Modules evolving in one lineage can be transferred to other lineages, where they typically undergo further evolutionary modification. For instance, changing the example from jet engines to eukaryotic cells, evolutionary biologists now see the mitochondrial power plants as the fruits of a symbiotic union between at least two distinct prokaryotic lineages - the integrated endosymbiotic whole is greater than the sum of its prokaryotic parts.

Nor should the evolutionary theorist ignore horizontal plasmid exchanges by means of which genetic information in one bacterial lineage can find its way into another, distinct, lineage. On a larger scale, there is, of course, horizontal exchange through hybridization. In this process, of great importance in plant evolution, first-generation hybrids show a genuine mixture of characteristics from the distinct parental lineages.

And what of the origin of mousetraps? Variation-and-selection processes have played an important role here too. Since the US Patent Office opened in 1838, it has granted more than 4400 mousetrap patents. Currently, about 40 new mousetrap patents are issued each year. Ten times that many patents are turned away, mostly because they are not minimally functional. The Patent Office mousetrap taxonomy recognizes 39 subclasses, including "Impalers", "Smiters", "Swinging Strikers", "Choking or Squeezing", "Constricting Noose", and "Electrocuting and Explosive" (Hope 1990: 92)

Devices that kill mice by hitting them have a long and interesting technological evolutionary history - see Hornell (1940). The spring-loaded trap discussed by Behe appeared in the 1890s, and was patented in 1903 (nr. 744379) by John Mast, a Pennsylvania coleslaw manufacturer with a serious rodent problem. The spring-loaded trap did not result from design and creation from nothing - a secular miracle in Pennsylvania. Rather, Mast had studied existing mousetrap patents and had borrowed from 5 or 6 of them - thus showing the importance of horizontal information transfers - before filing his own patent application in October 1899 (Hope 1990: 94). Behe's mousetrap is in fact a technological hybrid, descended with modification from earlier traps in a complex historical evolutionary process. Although the mousetrap is intelligently designed, it did not appear by a magical, ahistorical process of special creation, the details of which are forever hidden from public view!

Biochemical Complexity and the Mousetrap Analogy

But what of the mousetrap analogy of biochemical complexity? Here we will present some examples from biochemistry that call into question the general biochemical relevance of the mousetrap analogy. We will argue first that Behe's mousetrap analogy leads him to ignore a crucial aspect of the biochemical complexity we observe in nature: the phenomenon of redundant biochemical complexity. Redundant biochemical complexity represents the biochemical and molecular footprints of evolutionary processes in action. Having explained and illustrated this concept, we will then argue that redundant complexity provides the key for a natural, evolutionary understanding of the origins of irreducible complexity. We do not pretend to have a complete account of evolutionary biochemistry. We suspect that the details will eventually emerge from continuing scientific research. But rather than speculate about these matters, we will focus instead on what we do know about biochemical systems.

While biochemical complexity has many sources, one of the key concepts underlying our current understanding of biochemical evolution is that of gene duplication, a process whereby a gene is doubled in a genotype. As a result of this process, one gene can continue the old function, while the duplicate is freed up to be co-opted to serve novel functional ends - the duplicate gene acquires mutations that change its activity. These mutations may be preserved or eliminated through the operation of natural selection. If preserved, these mutations can lead to new functions. More importantly for our purposes, gene duplication is also a central evolutionary source of some of the redundant complexity we actually observe in biochemical systems (Shanks and Joplin 1999). So what is redundant biochemical complexity?

We see redundant complexity when we notice that many actual biochemical processes do not involve simple linear sequences of reactions, with function destroyed by the absence of a given component in the sequence. Instead, they are the product of a large number of overlapping, slightly different - hence redundant - processes. Redundant complexity is also embodied in the existence of back-up systems, which can take over if a primary system fails. Finally, redundant complexity is observed in the phenomenon of convergent biochemical evolution, wherein systems with different evolutionary histories, perhaps using different mechanisms, nevertheless achieve similar biochemical functions.

Redundant complexity turns out to lie at the heart of the stability that biochemical processes manifest in the face of perturbations that ought to catastrophically disrupt systems like Behe's well-designed, minimalist mousetrap - the absence of any component of which should render the system unable to perform its function. To understand redundant complexity better, it will help to look at some examples.

Redundant Pathway Complexity

If we examine the central catabolic pathway of glycolysis (the interconnected series of reactions by which glucose is broken down to release usable energy), it looks superficially as though the product of one reaction in the series is required as the substrate for the next reaction in the sequence. Thinking of glycolysis on the mousetrap model, one would expect that removing one component - enzyme, substrate, or product - would shut down the pathway and prevent the continual production of energy. In fact, almost every step in this pathway is redundantly complex. As an example, let us look at a key step, the production of glucose-6-phosphate from glucose, catalyzed by the enzyme hexokinase.

Not only does hexokinase activate the relatively stable glucose (Bennett and Steitz 1978), but it is a multipurpose enzyme that in part controls the rate of the first part of the glycolytic pathway by directing the chemistry of glucose either to build up more complex molecules (anabolism) or to harvest the energy stored in glucose (catabolism). The direction of chemical activity is dependent only on the concentration of the substrates, products, and various components of the pathway (Voet and Voet 1995).

One might assume, therefore, that here we have a good example of Behe's irreducible complexity. Remove the enzyme and the reaction should stop. But this intuition rests only on a superficial characterization of this step in the pathway. Looking at the fine details -- where the devil proverbially lurks - reveals an unexpected complexity in what initially appeared to be a simple, straightforward chemical situation.

In typical vertebrate tissue, redundant complexity is manifested in the existence of several different variants (isoforms) of hexokinase. All of these are present, as a result of gene duplication and differential expression, in varying proportions, in different tissues. The proportions of the variants differ for the specialized functions of the different tissues in which they are present, depending on whether the tissue requires rapid utilization of energy (as in muscles) or is involved in converting glucose into the storage form glycogen (as in the liver). Removal of a given variant of hexokinase does not disrupt glycolysis, although it may have an effect on the efficiency with which a function is achieved. So there is redundant complexity here, in the first, seemingly simple and straightforward, step of the glycolytic pathway.

Each of the other components of the rest of the glycolysis pathway manifests similar redundancies. Remove glucose, and the pathway can utilize numerous other hexose (6 carbon atom) sugars to supply the next product. Knock out one enzyme variant, and the other variants in the tissue can take over its function - maybe not quite as efficiently, but as Behe concedes, efficiency can be improved by natural selection over evolutionary time. There are back-up systems too. For example, if all the variants of hexokinase were removed, there are alternative pathways, such as the pentose phosphate pathway, that can supply the needed products (Martini and Ursini 1996).

It is a hallmark of many evolved biochemical systems that there are typically multiple causal routes to a given functional end, and where one route fails, another can take over. The existence of variants of a given enzyme are evolutionary legacies - legacies by means of which one and the same enzyme can be adapted to serve different specialized functions in different specialized tissues.

Genetic Knockout

Another way in which we can see the general inadequacy of the mousetrap analogy of biochemistry is simply to remove specific sections of an organism's genome. This procedure has recently been applied to mammals. Researchers can now target a specific gene in mice and "knock it out" (Travis 1992). Such knockout mice are valuable models for human diseases in gene function experiments. However, such mice do not always give the expected result - they do not exhibit the predicted functional deficits - due to the type of redundant complexity we have been discussing.

One example concerns the gene p53, which was originally identified as a tumor suppression gene, but has subsequently been found to be involved in a number of fundamental cell processes. For example, it plays roles in gene transcription, the cell cycle, programmed cell death (apoptosis), DNA replication, and DNA repair processes (Elledge and Lee 1995).

If you thought of this case as a genetic mousetrap, you might be tempted to think that the removal of this gene, involved as it is in all of these vital processes, would lead to catastrophic collapse of the developmental process - a bit like removing the spring, trigger, or platform from Behe's mousetrap. But this is not the case, since p53 knockouts in mice yield offspring that are viable and fertile, although susceptible to the early appearance of spontaneous tumors (Dowehower and others 1992). This suggests the following dilemma: either p53 is not required for embryonic development or there are redundant ways in which the function of the missing component is compensated for (Elledge and Lee 1995). The evidence at hand supports redundant complexity, since there are at least 400 proteins associated with the proper control of the cell cycle alone (Murray and Hunt 1993), and it would appear that some of these other proteins pick up the slack created by the missing p53. Such mice can still be caught in mousetraps!


We are discovering more and more about the nature and role of redundant complexity. Consider the new field of genomics. The study of genome sequences has revealed some startling findings about the complexity and organization of biological organisms. The genome of the yeast Saccharomyces cerevisiae contains many redundant sequences. Fifty-three duplicated gene clusters, making 30% of the yeast genome, have been identified (Clayton and others 1997). Such findings concerning gene duplication lead to an interesting question concerning Behe's use of the mousetrap analogy. That is, how few genes does it take to maintain a free living organism? Experiments at Celera Genomics are currently underway to knock out all nonessential genes from Mycoplasma pneumoniae.

If these experiments succeed, the resulting minimal organism will be noteworthy as a genuine example of a genetic version of Behe's mousetrap. If the organism really is genetically minimal, the absence of any component will be fatal. And such a minimal organism will be peculiar precisely because it will be a laboratory artifact - a drastic artificial modification of a redundantly complex natural system.

Redundant Origins of Irreducible Complexity

The existence of redundant complexity is evidence of the operation of evolutionary processes at the biochemical level. But it does not show that Behe is wrong to point to the existence of irreducible complexity. Let us suppose that some of his candidate examples of irreducible complexity are correct. Redundant complexity gives us the tools to explain the origins of what Behe found so mysterious. To see how redundant complexity might explain the origins of irreducible complexity, let us borrow an architectural image from A G Cairns-Smith, a biochemist interested in the origins of biochemical complexity (1986: 59-60).

Consider a free-standing arch of stones. It manifests irreducible complexity in that the keystone at the top of the arch is supported by all the other stones in the arch, yet these stones themselves cannot stand without the keystone. In other words, all the component stones depend on each other. Take away any stone, and the arch collapses.

Notwithstanding this fact about arches, it is nevertheless possible to construct them in gradual stages. You cannot gradually build a self-supporting, free-standing arch using only the component stones, piling them up, one at a time. But if you have scaffolding - and a pile of rocks will suffice to support the growing structure - you can build the arch one stone at a time until the keystone is in place and the structure becomes self-supporting. When this occurs, the now redundant scaffolding can be removed to leave the free-standing structure.

The study of developmental processes suggests that an important biological role is played by removable scaffolding in the formation of all manner of elaborate structures, including body parts and neural pathways. For example, developmental scaffolding, in the form of an initial superabundance of cells, can be removed by programmed cell death (apoptosis). This process plays a crucial role in the developmental sculpting of such structures as fingers and toes (Campbell 1996: 980; Lewis 1995: 15).

Natural evolutionary processes give rise to the redundant complexity we observe in biochemical systems. But these redundancies may also provide, in concert with extant functional systems and structures, the biochemical scaffolding to support the gradual evolution of systems that can ultimately manifest irreducible complexity when the scaffolding is reduced or removed. By the operations of natural selection, some of these biochemical arches will be retained for further evolutionary elaboration, while others will be eliminated. In effect, irreducible complexity results from the evolutionary reduction of redundancy in redundantly complex systems - systems that are themselves the fruits of evolutionary processes.

In an earlier paper (Shanks and Joplin 1999), we argued that self-organizing chemical reactions - many of which are suitable for demonstration in the classroom or laboratory - can give rise to irreducibly complex chemical systems. Our claim here is that redundant complexity provides another natural evolutionary route to the same end. We are a long way from having to abandon natural science in favor of supernatural hypotheses concerning the origins of biochemical complexity.


Although there is much that we do not know about the biochemistry of living systems, and Behe points to some good examples, we do know that they are not like designed artifacts such as mousetraps. Behe's case against evolution is a good example of the perils of being trapped by a metaphor - a metaphor that Behe has not properly understood. A closer look at human intelligent design processes reveals not secular versions of theological design and creation ex nihilo, but instead complex manifestations of analogs of evolutionary processes - this time in the domain of the cultural evolution of technological artifacts. Descent with modification is as important in the origin of artifacts as it is in the origin of species.

We have also argued that many evolved biochemical and molecular systems exhibit redundant complexity. This kind of complexity simultaneously accounts for the stability of evolved biochemical systems and processes in the face of even quite radical perturbations, for biochemical and metabolic plasticity, and, mainly as a result of gene duplication, for the co-optation of extant structures and processes in the course of evolutionary time to serve novel functional ends.

More importantly, redundant biochemical complexity points to the general biochemical inadequacy of the mousetrap analogy while providing a natural evolutionary basis for the appearance of biochemical systems manifesting irreducible complexity.

Of course, for some types of engineering problem, intelligent human designers build in redundancy and back-up systems. Perhaps Behe might want to argue that the resulting artifacts, with their engineered redundancy, suggest a more sophisticated design analogy. The trouble here is that naturalistic, evolutionary processes give rise to similar biochemical redundancies. And evolutionary processes do so without appeals to supernatural biochemical designers of unknown identity, using unknown materials and methods.


Behe MJ. Darwin's Black Box: The Biochemical Challenge to Evolution. New York: The Free Press, 1996.

Behe MJ. Self-organization and irreducible complexity: A reply to Shanks and Joplin. Philosophy of Science 2000: 67:155-62.

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Clayton RA, White O, Ketchum KA, Venter JC. The first genome from the third domain of life. Nature 1997; 387: 459-62.

Cziko G. Without Miracles: Universal Selection Theory and the Second Darwinian Revolution. Cambridge, MA: The MIT Press, 1995.

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Dowehower LA, Harvey M, Slagle BL, McArthur MJ, Montgomery, CA Jr, Butel JS, Bradley A. Mice deficient for p53 are developmentally normal but susceptible to spontaneous tumors. Nature 1992; 356: 215-221.

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Lewis R. Apoptosis activity: Cell death establishes itself as a lively research field. The Scientist 1995; 9: 15.

Martini G, Ursini MV. A new lease of life for an old enzyme. BioEssays 1996; 18: 631-7.

Murray A, Hunt T. The Cell Cycle. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1993.

Shanks N, Joplin KH. Redundant complexity: A critical analysis of intelligent design in biochemistry. Philosophy of Science 1999; 66: 268-82.

Travis J. Scoring a technical knockout in mice. Science 1992; 256: 1392-4.

Vincenti WG. What Engineers Know and How they Know It: Analytical Studies from Aeronautical History. Baltimore: Johns Hopkins University Press, 1990.

Voet D, Voet JG. Biochemistry, New York: Wiley, 1995.

About the Author(s): 

Niall Shanks is a professor of philosophy and an adjunct professor in the department of biological sciences at East Tennessee State University. He is currently engaged in research into the philosophical foundations of evolutionary theory. Karl H Joplin is an associate professor of biological sciences at East Tennessee State University. His field of specialty is molecular aspects of insect development. Shanks and Joplin are currently engaged in research into the role of self-organization and chaotic dynamics in insect behavior.

Pandas Update

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Pandas Update
Frank J Sonleitner
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
In 1989, Kenyon and Davis published the first edition of Of Pandas and People as a supplementary biology text. In both the first and second editions, the authors claim that there is scientific evidence against evolution in a number of fields of scientific research. Since 1995, I have searched the scientific literature in those fields identified in Pandas as being problematic for evolution and reported on it in our members' publications. As expected, a number of questions in the sciences were unanswered at the time of the original publication of Pandas in 1989. By the publication of the second edition in 1993, more of these issues were resolved, but new questions were also raised.

Once again this year, RNCSE presents a brief summary and a bibliography of recent works, organized to parallel the structure of Of Pandas and People. On each topic there is active and ongoing research in the appropriate sciences as well as a growing bibliography of resources for those interested in specific topics. By contrast, in the 11 years since the publication of the first edition of Pandas and the 6 years in which I have been preparing these summaries, the scientific triviality of the "intelligent design" theory is, and has been, manifest in the lack of any primary research reports based on "intelligent design" in the peer-reviewed scientific literature.

chapter 1:
The Origin of Life

Before investigating the possible origin of life, one ought to know what it is. The difficulties of defining "life" are reviewed by Holmes (1998). Radetsky (1998) and Joyce and Orgel (1998) summarize current ideas about the origin of life.

The Space Connection

Strong polarization of infrared light has been observed in the star-formation regions of the Orion nebula. Such polarization at short wavelengths might result in "left-handed" interstellar organic molecules that could have found their way to earth in comets, meteors, and interplanetary dust. This process would account for one of the most characteristic features of biological molecules — namely the overwhelming preference for "left-handed" over "right-handed" forms of organic compounds associated with all living things on earth (Bailey and others 1998). Recreating the environment of outer space in the lab produces many organic compounds representing some of the key ingredients of life that condense on simulated dust grains, including lipid-like molecules that can form cell-like vesicles (Schueller 1998).

The Martian meteorite still engenders debate (Kerr 1998a; Gibbs 1998). Several new studies (such as Bada and others 1998) indicate that the organic material in the meteorite is the result of terrestrial contamination. Research on the possible extraterrestrial organic materials in other meteorites continues. The Murchison meteorite contains over 70 different kinds of amino acids, many uniquely extraterrestrial (Pizzarello and Cronin 1998). Brainard (1998) speculates that even though Martian microbes may exist, they may be very scarce and hard to find on Mars.

Scientists are also reporting more evidence about the materials and conditions elsewhere in our solar system that could have supported the origin of life. Highly detailed pictures of Europa's surface by the Galileo spacecraft continue to reinforce the hypothesis that a watery ocean is hidden beneath the icy surface (Holden 1998). The paucity of craters on the surface is interpreted as showing that the surface is an active young surface (Kerr 1998b). Other evidence for an ocean is the detection of absorption bands in reflectance spectra indicating hydrated salts on the surface (McCord and others 1998). Evidence for induced magnetic fields is interpreted as evidence for subsurface oceans on both Europa and Callisto (Kivelson and others 1998). Svitil (1998) discusses the possibility of large amounts of methane and other organic compounds on Saturn's moon Titan.

As to the question of whether life could have arisen on planets elsewhere in the universe, astronomers continue to find evidence for extrasolar planets (Semeniuk 1998; Cowen 1998a). Most are inferred from observed wobbles in their stars' paths. Others are inferred from irregularities in a star's dusty disk (Cowen 1998b; Kalas 1998). One has been imaged directly (Leutwyler 1998). The known extrasolar planets now outnumber the planets of the solar system.


Researchers continue to find organisms in habitats previously thought to be too extreme for life to exist. Priscu and others (1998) describe the microbes existing in Antarctic lake ice. Cary and others (1998) report on tube worms living on the outer walls of deep-sea hydrothermal vents where the temperatures may be as high as 81̊C. General reviews of extremophiles are given by DeLong (1998) and Pain (1998a). Cossins (1998) reviews Michael Gross's book Life on the Edge: Amazing Creatures Thriving in Extreme Environments (1998). Pain (1998b) discusses the microorganisms that live deep in the earth's crust.

Researchers also claim to have found tiny nanobacteria in rocks and in the Martian meteorite. Other workers are skeptical of the existence of these organisms (Vogel 1998). Kajander and Ciftcioglu (1998) report on finding such ultramicroorganisms in biological materials.

Prebiotic Chemistry

Research continues into the production billions of years ago of organic molecules typical of living things on earth. Cleaves and Miller (1998) have demonstrated that many organic polymers and inorganic ions dissolved in the early ocean would act as ultraviolet absorbers, protecting the organic compounds farther below the surface and thus allowing them to accumulate. Canfield (1998) proposes a new model for Proterozoic ocean chemistry in which sulphide, rather than oxygen, is responsible for removing iron from ocean waters. Although there was some oxidation at the earth's surface around 2000 million years before the present (MaBP) ago, aerobic deep-ocean waters did not develop until about 1000 MaBP. Boctor and others (1998) report that nitrogen reduction can be brought about through mineral catalysis under conditions typical of hydrothermal vents.

Nitta and others (1998) report that ribosomal RNA can produce peptide bonds. Similarly, utilizing test-tube evolution, Zhang and Cech isolated a pure RNA pseudo-ribosome that could link amino acids together (Cohen 1998). Carmi and others (1998) report on "deoxyribozimes" (for example, a DNA molecule) that can act as an enzyme and cleave single-stranded DNA oligonucleotides. Unrau and Bartel (1998) report the creation, by test-tube evolution, of an RNA molecule that can synthesize a pyrimidine nucleotide from its phosphate, sugar, and base constituents.

Some theorists favor a high-temperature origin of life near oceanic hydrothermal vents (Balter 1998). Levy and Miller (1998) report that this is unlikely because the nucleotide bases are not sufficiently stable at such high temperatures. Huber and Wachtershauser (1998) claim that amino acids can be activated and condensed into peptides under conditions like those prevailing near vents. Another idea is that mineral surfaces may have aided in the production of polymers (Edwards 1998; Smith 1998; Parsons and others 1998). Along these lines, Luther and others (1998) describe a self-replicating chemical system involving solid support for the chemical templates that can increase the concentration of oligonucleotide analogues exponentially.

Poole and others (1998) describe a Darwinian model for the evolution of life from the late stages of the RNA world through to the emergence of eukaryotes and prokaryotes. In connection with this, Jeffares and others (1998) derive criteria for identifying ribozyme relics of ancient RNA structures in modern microorganisms and creating a model of the last ribo-organism before the advent of protein-directed catalysis.

The Rise of Eukaryotes

Eukaryotes are thought to have arisen from prokaryotes when archaebacteria engulfed eubacteria, which eventually became mitochondria and chloroplasts. Martin and Muller (1998) put forward the hypothesis that this process was not just an accident but the development of a symbiosis: the orginal host was a methanogen that consumed hydrogen and carbon dioxide and produced methane. The symbiont that eventually became the mitochondrion was a bacterium that made hydrogen and carbon dioxide as its waste products.

A rich find of unicellular eukaryotic fossils along with bacteria have been found in 800-Ma-old rocks on Canada’s Victoria Island (Monastersky 1998b). South African researchers have found evidence that primitive unicells may have lived in soil on land 2000–2200 MaBP (Monastersky 1998a). Recent experiments suggest that multicellular colonies may evolve from unicells as a defense against predation. Unicellular predators found the colonies too big to ingest (Blackman 1998).

chapter 2:
Genetics and Evolution


Current research demonstrates how mutations can produce variations with positive outcomes; mutation is not universally, or even generally, a bad thing. Rainey and Travisano (1998) describe the rapid evolution of an aerobic bacterium when exposed to novel environmental conditions in multiple ecological niches. Boyce (1998) reports that mutations that appear to be neutral may have subtle effects under stressful conditions. After experiencing heavy DNA damage, bacteria may increase their mutation rates by partially disabling their DNA repair systems in order to generate new genotypes that might be evolutionarily useful (Goodman 1998; Brookes 1998).

Genomes exhibit many diverse phenomena and genetic information is often stored in complex ways. A gene, for example, may be split into exons and introns, the latter being excised as "junk" when the gene is transcribed into messenger RNA. Similarly, some proteins that are produced by ribosomes consists of exteins and inteins, the latter being excised from the polypeptide chain to make the final form of the protein. Wu and others (1998) describe such a protein and its gene in the microbe Synechocystis. An added complication is that the gene itself is split into 2 parts found in 2 different parts of the chromosome. Each part codes for an extein and part of the one intein. Only after the 2 polypeptides are formed do they join to form the complete intein, which then excises itself to form the final protein molecule!

Pennisi (1998b) reviews the ways in which genomes can change, including transposable elements, shuffling or duplication of material, mutational hotspots, and inaccurate copying of 2- and 3- base repeats which may affect the function of neighboring genes. Max (1998) discusses pseudogenes, short and long interspersed elements, retroviruses, and retroposons as evidence for evolution. The numbers of multiple elements are still increasing in mouse species (Anonymous 1998); the house mouse has 3000 of them! Vogel (1998) and Pennisi (1998a) review modern ideas and experiments concerning the evolution of the genetic code. Van den Burg and others (1998) were able to utilize mutations to modify a bacterial enzyme to work at very high temperatures.

Natural Selection

Sargent and others (1998) review the phenomenon of industrial melanism. Losos and others (1998) explore the role of historical contingency in influencing adaptive radiation of Anolis on different islands in the Caribbean. A special section of Science (Hines and Culotta 1998) contains a number of papers reviewing hypotheses about the evolution of sex, including the possible adaptive value of sex (Barton and Charlesworth 1998) and tests of the various hypotheses (Wuethrich 1998).

A number of papers dealt with sexual selection. Arnqvist (1998) discusses the possibility that the shape of male genitalia evolved under sexual selection. Evans (1998) tests the hypothesis that sexual selection produced the long tail streamers of male swallows, discovering that the length of the tail is governed by natural selection. Call duration in tree frogs may be used by females to select males with superior genetic quality (Welch and others 1998). In swordtail fish, females prefer larger swords (Rosenthal and Evans 1998). In stalk-eyed flies, females prefer males that have longer stalks (Wilkinson and others 1998). The long eye stalk condition is linked to the possession of a Y chromosome that suppresses the meiotic drive of a "selfish" X chromosome that biases the sex ratio in favor of females.

Designing with Evolution

Petit (1998) gives a popular description of the use in industry of genetic algorithms to design engineering systems, directed (test-tube) evolution to produce new drugs, and genetic programming to evolve computer programs. Taubes (1998) discusses research on FPGA (Field Programmable Gate Array) chips, which allow computer hardware to be programmed by genetic algorithms. Lenski (1998) provides an informative book review on artificial life’s existing and evolving in computers.

Landweber and others (1998) review the successes in ribozyme engineering using test-tube evolution. They list 2 dozen new ribozymes "evolved" either from some precursor RNA or from random sequences of RNA. Macbeath and others (1998) used test-tube evolution to redesign enzyme topology. Crameri and others (1998) describe DNA shuffling, a technique used to speed up test-tube evolution.


The genomes of more organisms continue to be sequenced. In 1998, the genomes of 5 microorganisms and 1 multicellular animal were sequenced. These include the hyperthermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus with about 1.5 million base pairs (Mbp; Deckert and others 1998), the tuberculosis microbe Mycobacterium tuberculosis with about 4.4 Mbp and 4000 genes (Cole and others 1998), the syphilis spirochete Treponemas pallidum with about 1.3 Mbp and 1041 genes (Fraser and others 1998), the intracellular human pathogen Chlamydia trachomatis with about 1 Mbp (Stephens and others 1998), the typhus microbe Rickettsia prowazekii with about 1.1 Mbp and 834 genes, many of which are similar to mitochondrial genes (Andersson and others 1998), and the first animal to have its genome completely sequenced, the nematode worm Caenorhabditis elegans with 97 Mbp and 19 000 genes (Hodgkin and others 1998; Hodgkin and Herman 1998). The Drosophila genome sequence will be finished soon. Work continues on sequencing the plant model Arabidopsis (the European Union [EU] Arabidopsis Genome Project 1998; Meinke and others 1998). Huynen and Bork (1998) report on a comparative study of 9 microbial genomes.

It is estimated that vertebrates have between 50 000 and 100 000 genes, while invertebrates have fewer than 25 000. Simmen and others (1998) estimate that the invertebrate chordate Ciona has about 15 000 genes. Evidence indicates that at least 2 rounds of polyploidy occurred in the vertebrate ancestors after the separation of Amphioxus and the craniates (Pebusque and others 1998; Postlethwait and others 1998).

The extensive data on microbial sequences point to the possibility that early in the evolution of life, before the 3 domains (Bacteria, Eukara, and Archaea) emerged, there was much horizontal transfer of genetic material (Pennisi 1998; Koga and others 1998; Woese 1998; Katz 1998). Miller (1998) discusses horizontal gene transfer occurring today, since it could allow genetically engineered microbes to pass their genes to other species in the environment with unintended results. Katz (1998) reviews the latest ideas on the evolution of eukaryotes. She presents evidence that the eukaryote archezoans, which do not possess mitochondria, have secondarily lost those organelles. Aravalli and others (1998) report that Archaea, originally considered to be confined to extreme environments, are much more widespread, being found in soils, lake sediments, marine picoplankton and deep-sea locations. Microbiologists have estimated that there are 5 x 1024 bacteria living on earth in the ocean, in the soil, beneath the surface, in the air, and inside animals. Soil and subsurface habitats account for 94%; the insides of animals account for only a fraction of 1 percent. In the oceans, any given bacterial gene is estimated to undergo an average of 4 mutations every 20 minutes (Anonymous 1998).

chapter 3:
The Origin of Species

Brookes (1998) gives a popular account of the concepts of species and speciation. Orr and Smith (1998) explore the role of ecological divergence in the rise of reproductive isolation and speciation. Galis and Metz (1998) discuss the roles of sexual selection and niche differentiation on the explosive speciation of cichlid fishes in Lake Victoria. Geiser and others (1998) describe cryptic speciation in a fungus.

On the basis of computer simulations, Kondrashov and Shpak (1998) report that assortative mating can give rise both to reproductive isolation and to sympatric speciation. Gavrilets and others (1998) report on computer simulations that indicate the possibility of rapid speciation in subdivided populations without the need of founder effects, complete isolation, or the existence of distinct adaptive peaks. Ting and others (1998) investigate the speciation role of a rapidly evolving homeobox found in a male sterility gene in Drosophila. Swanson and Vacquier (1998) investigate gamete interactions in abalone involving egg lock/sperm key proteins that open the vitelline envelope of the egg to allow the sperm to enter, and how these can evolve to produce reproductive isolation and new species. Waugh O'Neal and others (1998) investigate the roles of undermethylation and retroelement activation in chromosome remodeling in interspecific hybrids.

chapter 4:
The Fossil Record

The Cambrian Explosion

Evidence is accumulating that complex animals evolved long before they appeared as fossils in the "Cambrian explosion". Seilacher and others (1998) report the finding of worm burrows in 1000-Ma-old Precambrian rocks, but there is much controversy over the dating of the rocks and the interpretation of the fossils. Xiao and others (1998; see also Gould 1998) have discovered almost perfectly preserved fossils of algae and animal embryos in 570-Ma-old phosphorites in southern China — 20 Ma before the Cambrian Period. Molecular dating techniques also indicate a much earlier evolution of metazoans (about 680–830 MaBP) in the Precambrian (Gu 1998; Bromham and others 1998). Thomas (1998) reconsiders the Cambrian Explosion in light of these new findings. Cooper and Fortey (1998) review the evidence for metazoan evolution prior to the Cambrian fossil record. Li and others (1998) report the finding of Precambrian sponges. Moldowan and Talyzina (1998) report biogeochemical evidence for dinoflagellate ancestors in the early Cambrian. Jensen and others (1998) report on the occurrence of Cambrian ediacarans (vendobionts). McMenamin (1998) reports on a new interpretation of ediacarans as a separate "metacellular" kingdom. Morris and Gould (1998) debate the interpretation of the Burgess Shale fauna. Morris (1998) claims that this fauna can be classified into existing phyla. Orr and others (1998) discuss the conditions under which the Burgess Shale animals were preserved. Hecht (1998) discusses the possibility (reported last year) that during Cambrian times, the earth's crust slipped around the core almost 90 degrees. The changing climatic conditions may have spurred rapid evolution. On the other hand, geologists report evidence of long geologically stable periods in the Precambrian (Anonymous 1998). The late Precambrian provides evidence for glaciation in what are now tropical latitudes. Hoffman and others (1998) explain this by a "snowball" earth hypothesis, while Williams and others (1998) prefer to invoke a change in the orientation of the earth's spin axis.

Mass Extinctions

The end-Cretaceous Chicxulub impact event is discussed by Johnson (1998), Cerveny (1998), and Pope and others (1998). Jablow (1998) describes the discovery of the Chicxulub structure. Kyte (1998) reports on the finding of a possible fragment of the asteroid in the sediments of the northern Pacific ocean. Shukolyukov and Lugmair (1998) present geochemical evidence that the asteroid had a carbonaceous chondrite composition. Evidence has been reported (Anonymous 1998a) that the impact fractured the edge of the continent, resulting in gigantic submarine landslides and giant tsunamis.

Cowen (1998) describes the possible causes of a comet shower that may have done in the dinosaurs. Smith and Jeffery (1998) discuss the selectivity of sea-urchin extinction due to this event. Jablonski (1998) discusses the molluscan recovery. Research on plankton extinctions that occurred before the event and of plankton that survived the event is discussed in (Anonymous 1998b). Erwin (1998) discusses recoveries from mass extinctions in general. Spray and others (1998) report evidence of a late Triassic multiple impact event. Bowring and others (1998) report geochronological evidence that the End-Permian extinction event lasted less than 1 million years. Ward (1998) reports evidence that the End-Permian land animals suffered from intense global warming. Schultz and others (1998) report a Pliocene impact event in Argentina. Wynn and Shoemaker (1998) describe an impact in Arabia that occurred in historic times. Gibbs (1998) describes the search for an impact crater in Greenland that formed in December 1997.

New Fossils

New fossil finds include Devonian myriapods from Australia (Edgecombe 1998) and ants in amber from New Jersey 92 MaBP (Agosti and others 1998). Plant fossils include complex rooted plants from the early Devonian 390 MaBP (Jensen 1998), a Jurassic angiosperm (Sun and others 1998), and an upper Cretaceous monocot (Gandolfo and others 1998). The discovery of Late Jurassic pollinating Brachyceran flies (Ren 1998) supports the Jurassic origin of angiosperms. New fish fossils include a lobe-finned fish with "fingers" (Daeschler and Shubin 1998) and a complete primitive rhizodont lobe-finned fish from Australia (Johanson and Ahlberg 1998). New dinosaur fossils include an early Carboniferous tetrapod (Clack 1998), a fish-eating dinosaur from Africa (Sereno and others 1998), sauropod dinosaur eggs and embryos from the upper Cretaceous of Patagonia (Coria and others 1998), a 16-inch–long claw resembling that of Velociraptor from Patagonia (Menon 1998), an early Cretaceous sea turtle (Hirayama 1998), a new species of predatory dinosaur from Madagascar (Sampson and others 1998), a giant Cretaceous dinosaur coprolite (Chin and others 1998), a Jurassic ankylosaur dinosaur (Carpenter and others 1998), and a small theropod dinosaur fossil from Italy with soft tissue preservation (Sasso and Signore 1998). Other new vertebrate fossils include a new Eocene archaeocete whale from India (Bajpai and Gingerich 1998), new specimens of giant armadillo from Florida (Anonymous 1998b), and a 53-Ma-old jaw representing the tiniest known mammal (only 1.3 grams) from Wyoming (Monastersky 1998a).

Adrain and others (1998) discuss Ordovician trilobite diversity. The osteolepiform (lobe-fin fish) ancestors of the tetrapods are discussed by Ahlberg and Johanson (1998). Clark and others (1998) report fossil evidence that early pterosaurs were quadripedal. Evidence that Cretaceous plesiosaurs ate ammonites is reported by Sato and Tanabe (1998). New primitive skeletons from Japan shed light on the origin of ichthyosaurs (Motani and others 1998). Fossils of Cretaceous duck-billed dinosaurs have been found in Antarctica (Monastersky 1998a). Late Cretaceous fossils of champsosaurs, large crocodilelike reptiles, have been found in the high Canadian Arctic (Tarduno and others 1998), suggesting that the poles had a warm climate at that time.

Traces of bone tumors are found in dinosaur vertebrae (Anonymous 1998c). Growth layers in dinosaur bones indicate that large sauropods grew fast and attained their full size in about 10 years (Stokstad 1998). Some Cretaceous sail-backed dinosaurs may have actually been humpbacked (Anonymous 1998a). Studies of the bone growth of high-latitude Australian dinosaur fossils revealed no growth lines, indicating that they might have been endothermic and grown continuously (Monastersky 1998b).

New, more complete specimens of the Late Cretaceous mammal Deltatheridium (Rougier and others 1998) shed light on the evolutionary relations of basal marsupials and early mammals. Flynn and Wyss (1998) review recent knowledge of South American mammal fossils. Meng and McKenna (1998) discuss mammalian faunal turnovers in the early Tertiary. Shoshani (1998) reviews elephant evolution. DNA analysis of the excrement of the extinct ground sloth reveals the plant species in its diet (Poinar and others 1998). Zimmer (1998c) recalls the 19th-century discovery of the early whale Basilosaurus. A new fossil of a mouse-sized flightless animal, Phenocolemur, suggests that the ancestors of bats hung from tree branches by all four legs (Hecht 1998). Zimmer (1998a) discusses bats and their evolution.

Grande (1998) describes the fossil-rich Eocene lake deposits of Wyoming. Zimmer (1998b) gives an in-depth review of the evolution of amphibians from fishes and the evolution of whales from land mammals. Lockley (1998) reviews the data on fossil footprints. Such fossil tracks, found all over the world, are one of the most direct lines of evidence indicating that the geologic strata were not laid down continuously by a giant world-wide flood. Erdmann and others (1998) report on the finding of modern coelacanth populations (Latimeria) off the coast of Indonesia.


Britt and others (1998) have discovered passageways for air sacs in Archaeopteryx specimens, demonstrating that the hollow postcranial bones were pneumatized and reinforcing the idea that they are homologous with similar pneumatized bones in the skeletons of non-avian theropod dinosaurs. Controversy over the dinosaurian origin of birds continues: Padian and Chiappe (1998), Thomas and Garner (1998), and Martin (1998), Ostrom (1998), and Padian (1998) summarize the opposing views; Hicks and others (1998) debate Rubin's 1997 claim that the theropod lung could not have evolved into a bird lung. Questions over whether the 3 digits in a bird's wing are homologous to the 3 digits in a theropod’s arm are discussed in (Anonymous 1998).

A theropod that might have had a feathered crest (Chen and others 1998) and 2 feathered dinosaurs (Ji and others 1998) have been found in the Lower Cretaceous formations in China. Ackerman (1998) summarizes the discovery of these animals in an article with many beautiful illustrations. The early Cretaceous Chinese fossil site yielding these discoveries is described by Wang (1998); Chiappe (1998) describes the Spanish site yielding early Cretaceous birds. The skull of a Late Cretaceous relative of Mononykus has been found in Mongolia (Chiappe and others 1998). The oldest Coelurosaurian theropod (from the Early Jurassic) is reported from China (Zhao and Xu 1998). Forster and others (1998) report on a primitive Late Cretaceous bird with a large sicklelike claw similar to those of dromaeosaurid dinosaurs. Stidham (1998) reports on a Late Cretaceous parrot fossil. Bones of a large (possibly 140 kg) flightless bird of the Late Cretaceous, Gargantuavis, have been found in France. This species may have produced the hundreds of fossil eggs found in the region previously thought to be dinosaur eggs (Holden 1998). Two more books on the origin of birds appeared this year (Dingus and Rowe 1998; Shipman 1998).


Babcock (1998) gives a good introduction to the literature on taphonomy, the science of what happens after an animal dies and under what conditions it will fossilize. Hazard (1998) offers suggestions how to teach about transitional forms.

Human Evolution

Two 45-Ma-old primate fossils found in Southeastern China are the smallest known, being less than 1 cm tall (Anonymous 1998a). They may represent the most primitive anthropoids. Gibbons (1998b) suggested that one ape line that returned to Africa from Asia may be the ancestor of the modern apes. New evidence suggests that the Miocene ape Oreopithecus was bipedal (Anonymous 1998b). A recent anatomical study has revealed that the chimpanzee brain exhibits asymmetry similar to that of the human brain in an area associated with language (Bower 1998a).

Several previous finds have been re-evaluated. The purported Neandertal bone flute appears to have been gnawed and punctured by an animal, perhaps a wolf (Bower 1998b). Rock art in Australia previously dated at 50–75 000 years ago has been redated to about 10,000 years by different dating methods (Bird and others 1998).

McKinney (1998) re-evaluates the "neotenic ape" model of the origin of humans. The 117,000–year-old footprints of anatomically modern humans found in 1995 near Langebaan Lagoon in South Africa will be moved to the safety of a museum (MacKenzie 1998). They are no longer the oldest known such footprints. Another set, the Nahoon prints, which have been in a South African museum for the past 34 years, have been dated at 200,000 years (Holden 1998a). Agnew and Demas (1998) discuss the preservation of the Laetoli footprints. The discovery of a complete Australopithecine skull and limb bone material in the Sterkfontein caves of South Africa was announced in December (Gee 1998). Computer simulation of Lucy's legs indicate that she walked in a human manner, not with a chimp-like gait (Lincoln 1998).

Computer imaging techniques have measured the endocranial capacity of a South African Australopithecus africanus specimen at about 515 cc — smaller than previous estimates. The endocranial capacities of other early hominids may also be too large (Conroy and others 1998). New specimens of Australopithecus anamensis confirm its age as intermediate between the older Ardipithecus ramidus and the younger Australopithecus afarensis (Leakey and others 1998). Recent reports suggest that A africanus has more apelike body proportions than A afarensis (Svitil 1999). A 1-Ma-old skull with a mixture of H erectus and H sapiens characters has been found in Eritrea (Albianelli and others 1998). A skeleton of a modern human child has been found in the Nile valley dating from a time (55 000 years) when many anthropologists think modern humans were about to invade Europe and Asia (Copley 1998).

Fission-track dating of stone tools and fossils on the island of Flores date at 900 000 years ago, suggesting that Homo erectus was capable of crossing open water in some kind of watercraft (Morwood and others 1998). Stone tools found in Israel's Hayonim cave have been dated at 200 000 years ago. Similar tools found at 2 other sites date to 250 000 years ago (Bower 1998c). Reexamination of the evidence for fire at Zhoukoudian, China, does not reveal any direct evidence for in situ burning (Weiner and others 1998).

Recent discoveries have led anthropologists to conclude that the New World was invaded by humans long before 11 000 years ago (McDonald 1998). The first humans may have reached the New World 30 000 years ago. They may have included people of European ancestry (Lewin 1998a). Last year's analysis of Neandertal DNA indicated that they were not directly ancestral to modern Homo sapiens, but some anthropologists, such as Milford Wolpoff, question that conclusion (see Holden 1998b and related readings). The replacement of Neandertals by modern Cro-Magnons is discussed by Mellars (1998). The June 1998 issue of Current Anthropology (vol 39, supplement) has several articles on Neandertals and early modern humans (Brainard 1998).

The anatomical requirements for language are discussed by Cartmill (1998). Investigations on the size of the hypoglossal canal, which transmits the nerves of the tongue, have led some authorities to conclude that Neandertals could talk as well as modern humans do (Kay and others 1998). According to Lieberman (1998), the origin of the cranial features characteristic of modern humans are related to reduction of the sphenoid bone. That ancient humans practiced cannibalism has been controversial. New evidence indicates that it occurred in the prehistoric American southwest and among the Aztecs, Maoris, and people in England 12 000 years ago (McKie 1998).

Analysis of human Y chromosomes supports the "out-of-Africa" hypothesis but also indicates that subsequently some populations returned to Africa (Hammer and others 1998). Patterns of mitochondrial genes and the non-recombining part of the Y chromosome suggest that humans had a small effective population size (about 10 000) during the Pleistocene (Harpending and others 1998). This same evidence rules out the multiregional hypothesis. Similar results come from studies of variation in the human dystrophin gene (Zietkiewicz and others 1998). This bottleneck may have been caused by climate changes caused by the eruption of Mount Toba in Sumatra about 71 000 years ago. This eruption was about 4000 more severe than the recent Mount St Helens eruption (Anonymous 1998c).

Although the apparent continuity of fossil and modern anatomy in China appears to support the multiregional hypothesis, a recent genetic study of Chinese populations (Chu and others 1998) does not. Rather, it indicates that the ancestors of East Asia entered from Southeast Asia. Comparison of mtDNA and Y chromosome data seems to indicate that women had a migration rate 8 times that of men (Boyce 1998).

With the Human Genome Project in full swing, some researchers are beginning to look for the genes that distinguish us from apes. One such difference, in the human CMP-sialic acid hydroxylase enzyme (Gibbons 1998a), involves a 92–base-pair deletion, which also causes a frame shift. This finding has relevance for the argument of anti-evolutionists that although humans and apes differ in only 1% of their genome, this amounts to 1 million base pairs and hence 1 million favorable point mutations would have had to occur (Schroeder 1997: 120) Obviously, point mutations are not the only way in which 1 million base-pair differences could have occurred.

Problems with calibrating mtDNA mutation rates are reviewed by Gibbons (1998b). Recent forensic work (such as identifying the recently discovered bodies of Tsar Nicholas and his family) has discovered many cases of heteroplasmy — instances where an individual has more than one mtDNA sequence. More than one type of mitochondrion can be inherited from a person's mother because the egg contains hundreds of these bodies. Such differences arose by mutation, and their occurrence suggests much higher mutation rates than previously thought.

A special section on archaeology in the November 20, 1998, issue of Science (Appenzeller and others 1998) reviews the latest ideas and information on the origin of art (Appenzeller 1998), the development of communities (Balter 1998), the birth of agriculture (Pringle 1998), and the origin of language (Holden 1998c). Lewin's human evolution textbook (Lewin 1998b) provides an up-to-date exposition of all aspects of human evolution.

chapter 5:

Richardson and others (1997) published a paper that compared many vertebrate embryos to investigate the validity of the phylotype concept and, as an aside, claimed that Haeckel's figures illustrating recapitulation were inaccurate to the point of being fraudulent — a point not overlooked by anti-evolutionists. This paper produced a series of letters in Science in 1998 (Hanken and Richardson 1998; Richardson and others 1998). The authors of the original paper say that Haeckel was essentially correct: his drawings enhanced superficial similarities — mainly of the general outlines of the various embryos — but certainly did not concoct the similarities of pharyngeal slits, and so on, that were, in fact, known to all other 19th-century anatomists, including Haeckel's enemies. (The few illustrations of recapitulation that Darwin used in The Descent of Man were taken from other sources). The "fraud" has been fully exploited by anti-evolutionists in their attempts to discredit evolution (Behe and others 1998).

Gilbert (1998) summarizes recent conceptual breakthroughs in developmental biology. These include the ideas that genetic and biological mechanisms can indeed explain development, that the core of development involves various signal transduction mechanisms, that homologous genes and pathways exist among distantly related phyla, and that modularity in development and developmental changes can result in major evolutionary changes. Modern findings on signaling molecules in development are summarized by Strauss (1998). Transmembrane receptors including olfactory receptors may function as a cell surface code for assembling embryos (Dreyer 1998).

A number of papers document new homeobox genes and their role in macroevolution. Wray and Raff (1998) report that echinoderms use the same regulatory genes as other animals to make both their bilateral larvae and their radial adults. The expression pattern of AmphiEn, which initiates certain repeated body segments in vertebrates, is similar to that of engrailed in invertebrates. Hox genes in ribbonworms (Nemerteans) consist of 1 cluster of 6 genes (Kmita-Cunisse and others 1998), and their most closely related orthologs are found in the mouse or Amphioxus. This finding indicates that ribbonworms have diverged relatively little from the last common ancestor of protostomes and deuterostomes.

Martinez and others (1998) report that coelenterates do not possess a full complement of Hox genes. A new cluster of 3 Hox-like genes (the ParaHox cluster) has been found in Amphioxus (Brooke and others 1998). Henry (1998) reports on a Hox gene needed for endoderm development.

The general role of homeobox genes in evolution and the Cambrian explosion is discussed in a number of papers (Cameron and others 1998; Pendick 1998; Meyer 1998). The discovery of 7 Hox clusters in modern fish (tetrapods have only 4) may account for the wide diversity displayed by modern fishes (Amores and others 1998). Hox genes and their role in vertebrate hindbrain segmentation are discussed by Prince (1998). Holland and Holland (1998) report on the expression patterns of 5 Hox genes in Amphioxus, which indicate the presence of a forebrain.

Martindale and Henry (1998) discuss the evolution of bilaterality. Several papers summarize our knowledge of limb development (Gardiner and others 1998; Schwabe and others 1998). The wide variability in tetrapod limb morphology is probably due to the timing and sequence of expression of Hox genes. Duboule and Wilkins (1998) point out that most of our genes are shared with other organisms, so phylogenetic diversity depends not on evolution of new genes, but on differential use of the same component genes. Evolutionary "bricolage" (that is, tinkering) with the developmental system is very conservative.

Tautz (1998) and Lee (1998) explore the use of the concept of homology in comparative and evolutionary studies. Modern techniques for reconstructing evolutionary trees are summarized by Lewin (1998). Hall (1998) presents a review of historical and recent research bearing on the germ-layer theory.

chapter 6:
Biochemical Similarities

Molecular taxonomy is changing our conception of the relationships of the animal phyla. Maley and Marshall (1998) provide a brief summary of molecular systematics and some of the outstanding issues in the field. Collins (1998) compares hypotheses concerning the evolution of the Bilateria based on ribosomal RNA data. Bilaterians seem to be closely related to placozoans and cnidarians. Balavoine and Adoutte (1998) review the evidence from ribosomal RNA data for grouping the triploblastic phyla into 3 large groups; Anderson and others (1998) report Hox gene data that may indicate that the protozoan Myzozoa may be a degenerate metazoan.

Several molecular studies appear to conflict with morphological and paleontological data. Sequencing of the mitochondrial genome suggests that turtles may be more closely related to diapsid than to anapsid reptiles (Zardoya and Meyer 1998). Another mitochondrial genome study suggests a closer-than-expected relationship between hippopotamus and whale clades (Ursing and Arnason 1998), but these findings are not consistent with other studies. The most newly discovered ancient whale fossils weaken the link to mesonychids and make the artiodactyl connection more plausible (Normile 1998). A molecular time scale for vertebrate evolution (Kumar and Hedges 1998) indicates that many modern mammalian orders diverged in the Cretaceous rather than the Tertiary, yet the latest fossil evidence (Normile 1998) disputes this hypothesis. Gaut (1998) reviews the research done on molecular clocks using plant data.

Study of mitochondrial introns suggests the liverworts were the earliest land plants (Qiu and others 1998). De Ley and others (1998) use ribosomal DNA data to classify the nematodes. Springer and others (1998) use both mitochondrial and nuclear gene data to resolve ambiguities in the relationships of the marsupials. The studies have confirmed that the marsupials are a natural grouping. Schubart and others (1998) studied the mitochondrial genes of Jamaican land crabs and concluded that they are descended from one marine ancestor about 4 MaBP.


Astronomers continue to find evidence of extrasolar planetary systems. More genomes are being completely sequenced, including the first genome to be sequenced of an animal, the nematode Caenorhabditis elegans, which has about 19, 000 genes. Darwinian evolutionary paradigms, in the form of genetic algorithms and test-tube evolution, are being used more and more to design engineering systems and to produce new enzymes, many of medical importance. Traces of animals that preceded the Cambrian explosion have been found, as have been feathered dinosaurs. New human fossils are being found that add variety and depth to the human family tree. The discovery of new homeobox-type genes are helping to elucidate developmental systems.

All these new findings are supportive of evolution and advance our knowledge of the history and variety of life beyond what we knew in 1989 when Of Pandas and People was first published. By contrast, the "intelligent design" theory presented in the pages of Pandas has yet to produce any scientific advances in the main areas of study laid out in the 6 chapters of the original (and revised) textbook.


Chapter 1: The Origin of Life


Holmes B. Life is... New Scientist 1998 Jun 13; 158 (2138): 38–42.

Joyce GF, Orgel LE. The origins of life — A status report. The American Biology Teacher 1998 Jan; 60 (1): 10–2.

Radetsky P. Life's crucible. Earth 1998 Feb; 7 (1): 34–41.

The Space Connection

Bada JL, Glavin DP, McDonald GD, Becker L. A search for endogenous amino acids in Martian meteorite ALH84001. Science 1998 Jan 16; 279: 362–5. Related reading: Cowen R. Reports raise questions about Martian rock. Science News 1998 Jan 24 (4); 153: 54. Jull AJT, Courtney C, Jeffrey DA, Beck JW. Isotopic evidence for a terrestrial source of organic compounds found in Martian meteorites Allan Hills 84001 and Elephant Moraine 79001. Science 1998 Jan 16; 279: 366–9.

Bailey J, Chrysostomou A, Hough JH, Gledhill TM, McCall A, Clark S, Ménard F, Tamura M. Circular polarization in star-formation regions: Implications for biomolecular homochirality. Science 1998 Jul 31; 281: 672–4. Related reading: Cowen R. Starlight shows life the right path. Science News 1998 Aug 1; 154 (5): 68. Green MM, Selinger JV. Cosmic chirality [letter]. Science 1998 Oct 30; 282: 880–1. Guterman L. Why life on earth leans to the left. New Scientist 1998 Dec 12; 160 (2164): 16. Hecht J. Inner circles. New Scientist 1998 Aug 8; 159 (2146): 11. Irion R. Did twisty starlight set stage for life? Science 1998 Jul 31; 281: 626–7. Schneider D. Polarized life. Scientific American 1998 Oct 24; 279 (3): 24.

Brainard J. Any Mars life would be hard to find. Science News 1998 Aug 29; 154 (9): 135. Related reading: Hecht J. Mission impossible. New Scientist 1998 Aug 29; 159 (2149): 20.

Cowen R. Exploring new worlds. Science News 1998a Aug 1; 154 (6): 88–90. Related reading: Cowen R. A dozen new planets ... and still counting. Science News 1998 Sep 26; 154 (13): 197. Cowen R. Star motions yield four more planets. Science News 1998 Dec 5; 154 (23): 362.

Cowen R. Epsilon Eridani: An early solar system? Science News 1998b Aug 8; 154 (6): 91. Related reading: Schilling G. Hints of a nearby solar system? Science 1998 Jul 10; 281: 152–3.

Gibbs WW. Endangered. Scientific American 1998 Apr; 278 (4): 19–21.

Holden C. Ocean sighting confirmed. Science 1998 Mar 13; 279: 1639. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Planets, moons, a supernova, and more. Discover 1999 Jan; 20 (1): 74. [Anonymous]. A world of ice. Discover 1998 Mar; 19 (3): 22. [Anonymous]. Slush on Europa? Discover 1998 May; 19 (5): 16. Cowen R. Craft eyes new evidence of a slushy Europa. Science News 1998 Mar 7; 153 (10): 149. Hecht J. Galileo gets slushy with Europa. New Scientist 1998 Mar 7; 157 (2124): 5. Seife C. To the iceworld. New Scientist 1998 Feb 14; 157 (2121): 20.

Kalas P. Dusty disks and planet mania. Science 1998 Jul 10; 281: 182–3

Kerr RA. Requiem for life on Mars? Support for microbes fades. Science 1998a Nov 20; 282: 1398–1400. Related reading: Cowen R. Fossils from Mars: Point, counterpoint. Science News 1998 Jan 3; 153 (1): 11.

Kerr RA. Planetary scientists sample ice, fire, and dust in Houston. Science 1998b Apr 3; 280: 38–9.

Kivelson MG, Stevenson DJ, Schubert G, Russell CT, Walker RJ, Polanskey C, Khurana KK. Induced magnetic fields as evidence for subsurface oceans in Europa and Callisto. Nature 1998 Oct 22; 395: 777–80. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Other worlds, other oceans. Discover 1998 Sep; 19 (9): 20. Cowen R. An ocean for Callisto? Science News 1998 Nov 7; 154 (19): 296. Kerr RA. Geophysicists ponder hints of otherworldly water. Science 1998 Jan 2; 279: 30–1. Neubauer F. Oceans inside Jupiter's moons. Nature 1998 Oct 22; 395: 749–51.

Leutwyler K. New planet? Scientific American 1998 Aug; 279 (2): 22. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Planet poseur? Discovery 1998 Aug; 19 (8): 24.

McCord TB, Hansen GB, Fanale FP, Carlson RW, Matson DL, Johnson TV, Smythe WD, Crowley JK, Martin PD, Ocampo A, Hibbitts CA, Granahan JC, and the NIMS Team. Salts on Europa's surface detected by Galileo's near infrared mapping spectrometer. Science 1998 May 22; 280: 1242–5. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Salty moon. New Scientist 1998 Mar 28; 157 (2127): 23. Cowen R. Europa's salty surface. Science News 1998 Jan 3; 153 (1): 11. Kargel JS. The salt of Europa. Science 1998 May 22; 280: 1211–2.

Pizzarello S, Cronin JR. Alanine enantiomers in the Murchison meteorite. Nature 1998 Jul 16; 394: 236.

Schueller G. Stuff of life. New Scientist 1998 Sep 12; 159 (2151): 30–5.

Semeniuk I. Real worlds of other suns. SkyNews 1998 Nov/Dec; 4 (4): 12–5. Svitil KA. Hot times on Titan. Discover 1998 Mar; 19 (3): 29.


Cary SC, Shank T, Stein J. Worms bask in extreme temperatures. Nature 1998 Feb 5; 391: 545–6. Related reading: Jensen M. Worms' hot ends set thermal record. Science News 1998 Feb 21; 153 (8): 126.

Cossins AR. Some like it hot. Nature 1998 May 21; 393: 227–8.

DeLong E. Archeal means and extremes. Science 1998 Apr 24; 280: 542–3.

Gross M. Life on the Edge: Amazing Creatures Thriving in Extreme Environments. New York: Plenum Press 1998.

Kajander EO, Ciftcioglu N. Nanobacteria: An alternative mechanism for pathogenic intra- and extracellular calcification and stone formation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Jul 7; 95 (14): 8274–9. Related reading: Folk RL. Life in miniature [letter]. Science News 1998 Sep 12; 154 (11): 163, 169. Travis J. The bacteria in the stone. Science News 1998 Aug 1; 154 (5): 75–7. Vogel G. Bacteria to blame for kidney stones? Science 1998 Jul 10; 281: 153.

Pain S. Extremeworms. New Scientist 1998a Jul 25; 159 (2144): 48–50.

Pain S. The intraterrestrials. New Scientist 1998b Mar 7; 157 (2124): 28–32.

Priscu JC, Fritsen CH, Adams EE, Giovannoni SJ, Paerl HW, McKay CP, Doran PT, Gordon DA, Lanoil BD, Pinckney JL. Perennial Antarctic lake ice: An oasis for life in a polar desert. Science 1998 Jun 26; 280: 2095–8. Related reading: Knight J. On thin ice. New Scientist 1998 Jul 4; 159 (2141): 13. Milius S. Looking for life in all the worst places. Science News 1998 Jul 11; 154 (2): 27. Svitil KA. Life on ice. Discover 1998 Oct; 19 (10): 38.

Vogel G. Finding life's limits. Science 1998 Nov 20; 282: 1399.

Prebiotic Chemistry

Balter M. Did life begin in hot water? Science 1998 Apr 3; 280: 31. Boctor NZ, Cody GD, Cooper BA, Hazen RM, Yoder HS, Brandes JA. Abiotic nitrogen reduction on the early earth. Nature 1998 Sep 24; 395: 365–7. Related reading: Chyba C. Buried beginnings. Nature 1998 Sep 24; 395: 329–30.

Canfield DE. A new model for Proterozoic ocean chemistry. Nature 1998; 450–453.

Carmi N, Balkhi SR, Breaker RR. Cleaving DNA with DNA. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Mar 3; 95 (5): 2233–7. Related reading: Wu C. DNA scissors cleave their comrades. Science News 1998 Apr 4; 153 (14): 223.

Cleaves HJ, Miller SL. Oceanic protection of prebiotic organic compounds from UV radiation. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Jun 23; 95 (13): 7260–3. Related reading: Brainard J. What was life's first sunblock? Science News 1998 Jul 11; 154 (2): 31.

Cohen P. Molecules of ancient life are born again. New Scientist 1998 Oct 17; 160 (2156): 10. Related reading: Zhang B, Cech TR. Peptide bond formation by in vitro selected ribozymes. Nature 1997 Nov 6; 390: 96–100.

Edwards MR. From a soup or a seed? Pyritic metabolic complexes in the origin of life. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 May; 13 (5): 178–81.

Huber C, Wachtershauser G. Peptides by activation of amino acids with CO on (Ni,Fe)S surfaces: Implications for the origin of life. Science 1998 Jul 31; 281: 670–2. Related reading: Vogel G. A sulfurous start for protein synthesis? Science 1998 July 31; 281: 627–9.

Jeffares DC, Poole AM, Penny D. Relics from the RNA world. Journal of Molecular Evolution 1998 Jan; 46: 18–36.

Levy M, Miller SL. The stability of the RNA bases: Implications for the origin of life. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Jul 7; 95 (14): 7933–8. Related reading: Knight J. Cold start. New Scientist 1998 Jul 11; 159 (2142): 10.

Luther A, Brandsch R, von Kiedrowski G. Surface-promoted replication and exponential amplification of DNA analogues. Nature 1998 Nov 19; 396: 245–8. Related reading: Day M. Did stones nurture the first life on Earth? New Scientist 1998 Nov 21; 160 (2161): 6.

Nitta I, Kamada Y, Noda H, Ueda T, Watanabe K. Reconstitution of peptide bond formation with Escherischia coli 23s ribosomal RNA domains. Science 1998 Jul 31; 281: 666–9. Related reading: Schimmel P, Alexander R. All you need is RNA. Science 1998 Jul 31; 281: 658–9.

Parsons I, Lee MR, Smith JV. Biochemical evolution II: Origin of life in tubular microstructures on weathered feldspar surfaces. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Dec 22; 95 (26): 15173–6.

Poole AM, Jeffares DC, Penny D. The path from the RNA world. Journal of Molecular Evolution 1998 Jan; 46: 1–17.

Smith JV. Biochemical evolution. I. Polymerization on internal, organophilic silica surfaces of dealuminated zeolites and feldspars. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Mar 31; 95 (7): 3370–5.

Unrau PJ, Bartel DP. RNA-catalysed nucleotide synthesis. Nature 1998 Sep 17; 395: 260–3. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Dawn of life. New Scientist 1998 Sep 19; 159 (2152): 27. Robertson MP, Ellington AD. How to make a nucleotide. Nature 1998 Sep 17; 395: 223–5.

The Rise of Eukaryotes

Blackman S. Safety in numbers. New Scientist 1998 Mar 14; 157 (2125): 15.

Martin W, Muller M. The hydrogen hypothesis for the first eukaryote. Nature 1998 Mar 5; 392: 37–41. Related reading: Doolittle WF. A paradigm gets shifty. Nature 1998 Mar 5; 392: 15–6. Sandman K, Reeve JN. Origin of the eukaryotic nucleus [letter]. Science 1998 Apr 24; 280: 501–2. Travis J. The hydrogen hypothesis. Science News 1998 Apr 18; 153 (16): 253–5. Vogel G. Did the first complex cell eat hydrogen? Science 1998 Mar 13; 279: 1633–4.

Monastersky R. Fossil soil has the dirt on early microbes. Science News 1998a Mar 7; 153 (10): 151. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Getting the dirt on land life. Earth 1998 Aug; 7 (4): 14.

Monastersky R. Arctic fossils record evolutionary burst. Science News 1998b Nov 7; 154 (19): 294.

Chapter 2: Genetics and Evolution

Mutation [Anonymous]. Still jumping. New Scientist 1998 Nov 14; 160 (2160): 30.

Boyce N. Good for nothing. New Scientist 1998 Jan 17; 157 (2117): 7.

Brookes M. Day of the mutators. New Scientist 1998 Feb 14; 157 (2121): 38–42.

Goodman MFJ. Purposeful mutations. Nature 1998 Sep 17; 395: 221–3.

Max EE. "New" persuasive evidence for evolution. The American Biology Teacher 1998 Nov/Dec; 60 (9): 662–70.

Pennisi E. The first codon and its descendents. Science 1998a Jul 17; 281: 330.

Pennisi E. How the genome readies itself for evolution. Science 1998b Aug 21; 281: 1131–4.

Rainey PB, Travisano M. Adaptive radiation in a heterogeneous environment. Nature 1998 Jul 2; 394: 69–72.

Van den Burg B, Vriend G, Veltman OR, Venema G, Eijsink VGH. Engineering an enzyme to resist boiling. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Mar 3; 95 (5): 2056–60. Related reading: Seife C. Designer enzymes enjoy life in the hot seat. New Scientist 1998 Mar 7; 157 (2124): 10.

Vogel G. Tracking the history of the genetic code. Science 1998 Jul 17; 281: 329–31.

Wu H, Hu Z, Liu X-Q. Protein trans-splicing by a split intein encoded in a split DnaE gene of Synechocystis sp. PCC6803. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Aug 4; 95 (16): 9226–31. Related reading: Vogel G. A two-piece protein assembles itself. Science 1998 Aug 7; 281: 763.

Natural Selection

Arnqvist G. Comparative evidence for the evolution of genitalia by sexual selection. Nature 1998 Jun 25; 393: 784–6. Related reading: Gwynne DT. Genitally does it. Nature 1998 June 25; 393: 734–5. Milius S. Why guys get fancy. Science News 1998 Aug 29; 154 (9): 140–1.

Barton NH, Charlesworth B. Why sex and recombination? Science 1998 Sep 25; 281: 1986–90.

Evans MRJ. Selection on swallow tail streamers. Nature 1998 Jul 16; 394: 233–4. Related reading: Hedenstrom A, Moller AP. Length of tail streamers in barn swallows. Nature 1999 Jan 14; 397: 115.

Hines P, Culotta E. The evolution of sex. Science 1998 Sep 25; 281: 1979.

Losos JB, Jackman TR, Larson A, de Queiroz K, Rodriguez-Schettino L. Contingency and determinism in replicated adaptive radiations of island lizards. Science 1998 Mar 27; 279: 2115–8. Related reading: Vogel G. For island lizards, history repeats itself. Science 1998 Mar 27; 279: 2043.

Rosenthal GG, Evans CS. Female preference for swords in Xiphophorus helleri reflects a bias for large apparent size. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Apr 14; 95 (8): 4431–6.

Sargent TD, Millar CD, Lambert DM. The "classical" explanation of industrial melanism: Assessing the evidence. Evolutionary Biology 1998; 30: 299–322.

Welch AM, Semlitsch RD, Gerhardt HC. Call duration as an indicator of genetic quality in male gray tree frogs. Science 1998; 280: 1928–30. Related reading: Pennisi E. Females pick good genes in frogs, flies. Science 1998 Jun 19; 280: 1837–8.

Wilkinson GS, Presgraves DC, Crymes L. Male eye span in stalk-eyed flies indicates genetic quality by meiotic drive suppression. Nature 1998 Jan 15; 391: 276–9. Related reading: Hurst LD, Pomlankowski A. The eyes have it. Nature 1998 Jan 15; 391: 223–4. Milius S. Female flies pick mates with sexy eyes. Science News 1998 Jan 17; 153 (3): 36.

Wuethrich B. Why sex? Putting theory to the test. Science 1998; 281: 1980–2.

Designing with Evolution

Crameri A, Raillard S-A, Bermudez E, Stemmer WPC. DNA shuffling of a family of genes from diverse species accelerates directed evolution. Nature 1998 Jan 15; 391: 288–91.

Landweber LF, Simon PJ, Wagner TA. Ribozyme engineering and early evolution. BioScience 1998 Feb; 48 (2): 94–103.

Lenski RE. Get a life. Science 1998 May 8; 280: 849–50.

MacBeath G, Kast P, Hilvert D. Redesigning enzyme topology by directed evolution. Science 1998 Mar 20; 279: 1958–61.

Petit CW. Touched by nature: Putting evolution to work on the assembly line. U.S. News & World Report 1998 Jul 27; 125 (4): 43–5.

Taubes G. Evolving a conscious machine. Discover 1998 Jun; 19 (6): 72–9.


Andersson SGE, Zomorodipour A, Andersson JO, Sicheritz-Pont[eacute]n T, Alsmark UCM, Podowski RM, N[auml]slund AK, Eriksson A-S, Winkler HH, Kurland CG. The genome sequence of Rickettsia prowazekii and the origin of mitochondria. Nature 1998 Nov 12; 396: 133–40. Related reading: Gray MW. Rickettsia, typhus and the mitochondrial connection. Nature 1998; 396: 109–10. Pennisi E. Genome links typhus bug to mitochondrion. Science 1998 Nov 13; 282: 1243.

[Anonymous]. Whole lotta bugs. Discover 1998 Dec; 19 (12): 28.

Aravalli RN, She Q, Garrett RA. Archaea and the new age of microorganisms. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 1998 May; 13 (5): 190–4.

Cole ST, Brosch R, Parkhill J, Garnier T, Churcher C, Harris D, Gordon SV, Eiglmeier K, Gas S, Barry CE, Tekaia F, Badcock K, Basham D, Brown D, Chillingworth T, R Connor R, Davies R, Devlin K, Feltwell T, Gentles S, Hamlin N, Holroyd S, Hornsby T, Jagels K, Krogh A, McLean J, Moule S, Murphy L, Oliver K, Osborne J, Quai MA, Rajandream M-A, Rogers J, Rutter S, Seeger K, Skelton J, Squares R, Squares S, Sulston JE, Taylor K, Whitehead S, Barrell BG. Deciphering the biology of Mycobacterium tuberculosis from the complete genome sequence. Nature 1998 Jun 11; 393: 537–3. Related reading: Young DB. Blueprint for the white plague. Nature 1998 Jun 11; 393: 515–6.

Deckert G, Warren PV; Gaasterland T; Young WG; Lenox AL; Graham DE; Overbeek R; Snead MA; Keller M; Aujay M; Feldman RA; Short JM; Olsen GJ; Huber R; Swanson RV. The complete genome of the hyperthermophilic bacterium Aquifex aeolicus. Nature 1998 Mar 26; 392: 353–8. Related reading: Doolittle RF. Microbial genomes opened up. Nature 1998 Mar 26; 392: 339–42.

The EU Arabidopsis Genome Project. Analysis of 1.9 Mb of contiguous sequence from chromosome 4 of Arabidopsis thaliana. Nature 1998 Jan 29; 391:485–8. Related reading: Ecker JR. Genes blossom from a weed. Nature 1998 Jan 29; 391: 438.

Fraser CM, Norris SJ, Weinstock JM, White O, Sutton GG, Dodson R, Gwinn M, Hickey EK, Clayton R, Ketchum KA, Sodergren E, Hardham JM, McLeod MP, Salzberg S, Peterson J, Khalak H, Richardson D, Howell JK, Chidambaram M, Utterback T, McDonald L, Artiach P, Bowman C, Cotton MD, Fujii C, Garland S, Hatch B, Horst K, Roberts K, Sandusky M, Weidman J, Smith HO, Venter JC. Complete genome sequence of Treponema pallidum, the syphilis spirochaete. Science 1998 Jul 17; 281: 375–88. Related reading: Pennisi E. Genome reveals wiles and weak points of syphilis. Science 1998 Jul 17; 281: 324–5. Seppa N. Reseachers solve syphilis genome. Science News 1998 Aug 11; 154 (5): 79.

Hodgkin J, Herman RK. Changing styles in C. elegans genetics. Trends in Genetics 1998 Sep; 14 (9): 352–7.

Hodgkin J, Horvitz HR, Jasny BR, Kimble J. C. elegans: Sequence to biology. Science 1998 Dec 11; 282: 2011. Related reading: Chalfie M. The worm revealed. Nature 1998 Dec 17; 396: 620–1. Ferry G. The human worm. New Scientist 1998 Dec 5; 160 (2163): 33–5. Pennisi E. Worming secrets from the C. elegans genome. Science 1998 Dec 11; 282: 1972–5. Travis J. Worm offers the first animal genome. Science News 1998 Dec 12; 154 (24): 372. Yam P. Worm genome project. Scientific American 1999 Feb; 87 (2): 26.

Huynen MA, Bork P. Measuring genome evolution. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 May 26; 95 (11): 5849–56.

Katz LA. Changing perspectives on the origin of eukaryotes. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 Dec; 13 (12): 493–7.

Koga Y, Kyuragi T, Nishihara M, Sone N. Did archaeal and bacterial cells arise independently from noncellular precursors? A hypothesis stating that the advent of membrane phospholipid with enantiomeric glycerophosphate backbones caused the separation of the two lines of descent. Journal of Molecular Biology 1998 Jan; 46 (1): 54–63. Related reading: Barnett A. The second coming. New Scientist 1998 Feb 14; 157 (2121): 19.

Meinke DW, Cherry JM, Dean C, Rounsley SD, Koornneef M. Arabidopsis thaliana: A model plant for genome analysis. Science 1998 Oct 23; 282: 662–81.

Miller RV. Bacterial gene swapping in nature. Scientific American 1998 Jan; 278 (1): 66–71.

Pebusque M-J, Coulier F, Birnbaum D, Pontarotti P. Ancient large-scale genome duplications: phylogenetic and linkage analyses shed light on chordate genome evolution. Molecular Biology and Evolution 1998; 15 (9): 1145–59. Pennisi E. Genome data shake tree of life. Science 1998 May 1; 280: 672, –4.

Postlethwait JH, Yan Y-L, Gates M, Horne S, Amores A, Brownlie A, Donovan A, Egan E, Force A, Gong Z, Goutel C, Fritz A, Kelsh R, Knapik E, Liao E, Paw B, Ransom D, Singer A, Thomson M, Abduljabbar T, Yelick P, Beier D, Joly L, Larhammar D, Rosa F, Westerfield M, Zon L, Johnson S, Talbot W. Vertebrate genome evolution and the zebrafish gene map. Nature Genetics 1998 Apr; 18: 345–9. Related reading: Aparicio S. Exploding vertebrate genomes. Nature Genetics 1998 Apr; 18: 301–3.

Simmen MW, Leitgeb S, Clark VH, Jones SJM, Bird A. Gene number in an invertebrate chordate, Ciona intestinalis. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Apr 14; 95: 4437–40.

Stephens RS, Kalman S, Lammel C, Fan J, Marathe R, Aravind L, Mitchell W, Olinger L, Tatusov RL, Zhao Q, Koonin EV, Davis RW. Genome sequence of an obligate intracellular pathogen of humans: Chlamydia trachomatis. Science 1998 Oct 23; 282: 754–9. Related reading: Hatch T. Chlamydia: Old ideas crushed, new mysteries bared. Science 1998 Oct 23; 282: 638–9.

Woese C. The universal ancestor. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Jun 9; 95 (12): 6854–9.

Chapter 3: The Origin of Species

Brookes M. The species enigma. New Scientist 1998 Jun 13; 158 (2138). Inside Science supplement nr. 111.

Galis F, Metz JAJ. Why are there so many cichlid species? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 Jan; 13 (1): 1–2.

Gavrilets S, Li H, Vose MD. Rapid parapatric speciation on holey adaptive landscapes. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 1998; 265: 1483–9.

Geiser DM, Pitt JI, Taylor JW. Cryptic speciation and recombination in the aflatoxin-producing fungus Aspergillus flavus. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Jan 3; 95: 388–93.

Kondrashov AS, Shpak M. On the origin of species by means of assortative mating. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 1998 Dec 7; 265 (1412): 2273–8.

Orr MR, Smith TB. Ecology and speciation. Trends in Ecology and Evolution. 1998 Dec; 13 (12): 502–6.

Swanson WJ, Vacquier VD. Concerted evolution in an egg receptor for a rapidly evolving abalone sperm protein. Science 1998 Jul 31; 281: 710–2. Related reading: Cohen P. Promiscuity helps the abalone evolve into a new species. New Scientist 1998 Aug 8; 159 (2146): 19.

Ting C-T, Tsaur S-C, Wu M-L, Wu C-I. A rapidly evolving homeobox at the site of a hybrid sterility gene. Science 1998 Nov 20; 282; 1501–4. Related reading: Cohen P. Splitting heirs. New Scientist 1998 Nov 28; 160 (2162): 11.Nei M, Zhang J. Molecular origin of species. Science 1998 Nov 20; 282: 1428–9.

Waugh O'Neill RJ, O'Neill MJ, and Marshall Graves JA. Undermethylation associated with retroelement activation and chromosome remodelling in an interspecific mammalian hybrid. Nature 1998 May 7; 393: 68–72.

Chapter 4: The Fossil Record
The Cambrian Explosion

[Anonymous]. A billion years of stability. Discover 1998 Sep; 19 (9): 19.

Bromham L, Rambaut A, Fortey R, Cooper A, Penny D. Testing the Cambrian explosion hypothesis by using a molecular dating technique. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Oct 3; 95 (21): 12386–9.

Cooper A, Fortey R. Evolutionary explosions and the phylogenetic fuse. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 Apr; 13 (4): 151–6. Related reading: Lee MSY. Similarity, parsimony and conjecture of homology: The chelonian shoulder girdle revisited. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 1998 May; 11: 379–87.

Gould SJ. On embryos and ancestors. Natural History 1998 Jul/Aug 8; 107 (6): 20–2, 58–65.

Gu X. Early metazoan divergence was about 830 million years ago. Journal of Molecular Evolution 1998 Sep; 47 (3): 369–71.

Hecht J. Tilt-a-world. Earth 1998 Jun; 7 (3): 34–7. Related reading: Kirschvink JL, Ripperdan RL, Evans DA. Evidence for a large-scale reorganization of early Cambrian continental masses by inertial interchange true polar wander. Science 1997 Jul 25; 277: 541–5.

Hoffman PF, Kaufman AJ, Halverson GP, Schrag DP. A neoproterozoic snowball earth. Science 1998 Aug 28; 281: 1342–6. Related reading: Jenkins GS, Scotese CR. An early snowball earth? [letter] Science 282 Nov 27: 1644–6. Kerr RA. Did an ancient deep freeze nearly doom life? Science 1998 Aug 28; 281: 1259–60; Monastersky R. Popsicle Planet. Science News 1998 Aug 29; 154 (9): 137–9.

Jensen S, Gehling JG, Droser ML. Ediacara-type fossils in Cambrian sediments. Nature 393: 567–9.

Li C-W, Chen J-Y, Hua T-E. Precambrian sponges with cellular structures. Science 1998 Feb 6; 279: 879–82. Related reading: Kerr RA. Pushing back the origins of animals. Science 1998 Feb 6; 279: 803–4.

McMenamin MAS. The Garden of Ediacara: Discovering the First Complex Life. New York: Columbia University Press, 1998. Related reading: Daviss B. Cast out of Eden. New Scientist 1998 May 16; 158 (2134): 26–30.

Moldowan JM, Talyzina NM. Biogeochemical evidence for dinoflagellate ancestors in the early Cambrian. Science 1998 Aug 21; 281: 1168–70.

Morris SC.

The Crucible of Creation: The Burgess Shale and the Rise of Animals
. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1998.

Morris SC, Gould SJ. Showdown on the Burgess Shale. Natural History 1998 Dec/Jan; 107 (10): 48–55.

Orr PJ, Briggs DEG, Kearns SL. Cambrian Burgess Shale animals replicated in clay minerals. Science 1998 Aug; 281: 1173–5.

Seilacher A, Bose PK, Pfluger F. Triploblastic animals more than 1 billion years ago: Trace fossil evidence from India. Science 1998 Oct 2; 282: 80–3. Related reading: Azmi RJ. Fossil Discoveries in India [letter]. Science 1998 Oct 23; 282: 627. Brasier M. From deep time to late arrivals. Nature 1998 Oct 8; 395: 547–8. Hecht J. Worms dig holes in evolutionary ideas. New Scientist 1998 Oct 10; 160 (2155): 6. Kerr RA. Track of billion-year old animals? Science 1998 Oct 2; 282: 19–21. Kerr RA. Fossils challenge age of billion-year-old animals. Science 1998 Oct 23; 282: 601. Kerr RA. Earliest animals old once more? Science 1998 Nov 6; 282: 1020. Monastersky R. Questions raised about oldest animal. Science News 1998 Oct 17; 154 (16): 255. Monastersky R. A rock that lies about its age. Science News 1998 Nov 21; 154 (21): 332. Morris SC and others. Fossil Discoveries in India: Continued [letters]. Science 1998 Nov 13; 282: 1265.

Thomas ALR. Cambrian explosion blown out of the water. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 Apr; 13 (4): 129. Related reading: Budd GE, Jensen S. Trace fossils and the Cambrian explosion [letter]. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 Dec; 13 (12): 507–8. Horne DJ, Thomas ALR. Cambrian explosion still in the water [letters]. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 Aug; 13 (8): 322.

Williams DM, Kasting JF, Frakes LA. Low-latitude glaciation and rapid changes in the earth's obliquity explained by obliquity-oblateness feedback. Nature 1998 Dec 3; 396: 453–8. Related reading: Hecht J. Sweltering in Siberia. New Scientist 1998 Dec 5; 160 (2163): 4.

Xiao S, Zhang Y, and Knoll AH. Three-dimensional preservation of algae and animal embryos in a Neoproterozoic phosphorite. Nature 1998 Feb 5; 391: 553–8. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Interpreting late Precambrian microfossils [technical comments]. Science 1998 Dec 4; 282: 1783. Bengtson S. Animal embryos in deep time. Nature 1998 Feb 5; 391: 529–30. Svitil KA. Searching for the first animal. Discover 1999 Jan; 20 (1): 52.

Mass Extinctions

New Scientist 1998a Apr 18; 158 (2130): 23. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Surf's up, dinos are down. Discover 1998 Jul; 19 (7): 20.

[Anonymous]. The long good-bye. Earth 1998b Jun; 7 (3): 16.

Bowring SA, Erwin DH, Jin YG, Martin MW, Davidek K, Wang W. U/Pb Zircon geochronology and tempo of the end-Permian mass extinction. Science 1998 May 15; 280: 1039–45. Related reading: Kerr RA. Biggest extinction looks catastrophic. Science 1998 May 15; 280: 1007. Monastersky R. Death swept earth at end of Permian. Science News 1998 May 16; 153 (20): 308.

Cerveny R. The day the dinosaurs died. Weatherwise 1998 Jul/Aug; 51 (4): 13–19.

Cowen R. Dino death: A stellar weapon ... or a high-energy flash? Science News 1998 Jan 31; 153 (5): 79.

Erwin DH. The end and the beginning: recoveries from mass extinctions. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 Sep; 13 (9): 344–9.

Gibbs WW. The search for Greenland's mysterious meteor. Scientific American 1998 Nov; 279 (5): 72–9.

Jablonski D. Geographic variation in the molluscan recovery from the end-Cretaceous extinction. Science 1998 Feb 27; 279: 1327–30. Related reading: Lewin R. Survival strategy. New Scientist 1998 Mar 1; 157 (2124): 23.

Jablow V. A tale of two rocks. Smithsonian 1998 Apr; 29 (1): 32–35.

Johnson KR. Moon over Chicxulub: Will night finally fall on the dinosaur-extinction debate? American Scientist 1998 Nov/Dec; 86 (6): 568–71.

Kyte FT. A meteorite from the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary. Nature 1998 Nov 19; 396: 237–9.

Pope KO, D'Hondt SL, Marshall CR. Meteorite impact and the mass extinction of species at the Cretaceous/Tertiary boundary. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Sep 15; 95 (19): 11028–9.

Schkolyukov A, Lugmair GW. Isotopic evidence for the Cretaceous-Tertiary impactor and its type. Science 1998 Oct 30; 282: 927–9. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Bits and pieces of Armageddon. Discover 1999 Mar; 20 (3); 24. Monastersky R. Chunk of death-dealing asteroid found. Science News 1998 Nov 21; 154 (21): 324.

Schultz PH, Zarate M, Hames W, Camilion C, King J. A 3.3-Ma impact in Argentina and possible consequences. Science 1998 Dec 11; 282: 2061–3. Related reading: Kerr RA. Argentina, and perhaps its life, took a hit. Science 1998 Dec 11; 282: 1965–6.

Smith AB, Jeffrey CH. Selectivity of extinction among sea urchins at the end of the Cretaceous period. Nature 1998 Mar 5; 392: 69–71. Related reading: Marshall CR. Mass extinction probed. Nature 1998 Mar 5; 392: 17–20.

Spray JG, Kelley SP, Rowley DB. Evidence for a late Triassic multiple impact event on earth. Nature 1998 Mar 12; 393: 171–3. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Chain of craters. Discover 1998 Aug; 19 (8): 29. Kent DV. Impacts on earth in the late Triassic. Nature 1998 Sep 10; 395: 126. Melosh HJ. Craters unchained. Nature 1998 Jul 16; 394: 221–3.

Ward PD. The greenhouse extinction. Discover 1998 Aug; 19 (8): 54–8.

Wynn JC, Shoemaker EM. The day the sands caught fire. Scientific American 1998 Nov; 279 (5): 65–71.

New Fossils

Adrain JM, Fortey RA, Westrop SR. Post-Cambrian trilobite diversity and evolutionary faunas. Science 1998 June 19; 280: 1922–5. Related reading: Irion R. Parsing the trilobites' rise and fall. Science 1998 June 19; 280: 1837.

Agosti D, Grimaldi D, Carpenter JM. Oldest known ant fossils discovered. Nature 1998 Jan 29; 391: 447. Related reading: Hagmann M. Amber ants. Discover 1999 Jan; 20 (1): 52.

Ahlberg PE, Johanson Z. Osteolepiformes and the ancestry of tetrapods. Nature 1998 Oct 22; 395: 792–4. Related reading: Janvier P. Forerunner of four legs. Nature 1998 Oct 22; 395: 748–9.

[Anonymous]. Humpbacked dinosaurs. Discover 1998a Apr; 19 (4): 12.

[Anonymous]. There were giants on the earth in those days. Discover 1998b Apr; 19 (4): 14–8.

[Anonymous]. Saurian sore. Discover 1998c Oct; 19 (10): 26.

Bajpai S, Gingerich PD. A new Eocene archaeocete (Mammalia, Cetacea) from India and the time of origin of whales. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Dec 22; 95 (26): 15464–8. Related reading: Monastersky R. Fossil jaw tells tale of whale evolution. Science News 1998 Oct 10; 154 (15): 229.

Carpenter K, Miles C, Cloward K. Skull of a Jurassic ankylosaur (Dinosauria). Nature 1998 Jun 25; 393: 782–3.

Chin K, Tokaryk TT, Erickson GM, Calk LC. A king-sized theropod coprolite. Nature 1998 Jun 18; 393: 680–2. Related reading: Andrews P, Fernandez-Jalvo Y. 101 uses for fossilized faeces. Nature 1998 June 18; 393: 629. [Anonymous]. Dino dung. New Scientist 1998 Jun 20; 158 (2139): 27. [Anonymous]. Ordure of Magnitude. Discover 1998 Oct; 19 (10): 32. Monastersky R. Getting the scoop from the poop of T. rex. Science News 1998 Jun 20; 153 (25): 391.

Clack JA. A new Early Carboniferous tetrapod with a melange of crown-group characters. Nature 1998 Jul 2; 394: 66–9. Related reading: Shubin N. Evolutionary cut and paste. Nature 1998 Jul 2; 394: 12–3.

Clark JM, Hopson JA, Hernandez RR, Fastovsky DE, Montellano M. Foot posture in a primitive pterosaur. Nature 1998 Feb 26; 391: 886–9. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Of pterosaur toes. Discover 1998 May; 19 (5): 11. Monastersky R. Flat-footed fossil of former flyer. Science News 1998 Mar 14; 153 (11): 172.

Coria RA, Dingus L, Jackson F, Chinsamy A, Fox M, Chiappe LM. Sauropod dinosaur embryos from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia. Nature 1998 Nov 19; 396: 258–61. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Huevos dinosauros. Discover 1999 Feb; 20 (2): 24.

Daeschler EB, Schubin N. Fish with fingers? Nature 1998 Jan 8; 391: 133.

Edgecombe GD. Devonian terrestrial arthropods from Gondwana. Nature 1998 Jul 9; 394: 172–5. Related reading: Lincoln T. Ancient Australian arthropods. Nature 1998 Jul 9; 394: 127.

Erdmann MV, Caldwell RL, Moosa MK. Indonesian "king of the sea" discovered. Nature 1998 Sep 24; 395: 335. Related reading: Forey P. A home from home for coelacanths. Nature 1998; 395: 319–20. Glausiusz J. The old fish of the sea. Discover 1999 Jan; 20 (1): 49. Gordon AL. Coelacanth populations may go with the flow [letter]. Nature 1998 Oct 15; 395: 634. Milius S. Second group of living fossils reported. Science News 1998 Sep 26; 154 (13): 196.

Flynn JJ, Wyss AR. Recent advances in South American mammalian paleontology. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 Nov; 13 (11): 449–54.

Gandolfo MA, Nixon KC, Crepet WL. Oldest known fossils of monocotyledons. Nature 1998 Aug 6; 394: 532–3.

Grande L. This land: Fossil lake. Natural History 1998 Jul/Aug; 107 (6): 66–9.

Hecht J. Branching out. New Scientist 1998 Oct 10; 160 (2155): 14.

Hirayama R. Oldest known sea turtle. Nature 1998 Apr 16; 392: 706–8. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Turtle tears. Discover 1998 Aug; 19 (8): 28. Gee H. The eyes have it. Nature 1998 Apr 16; 392: 651. Monastersky R. A sea turtle's salty tale. Science News 1998 May 30; 153 (22): 351.

Jensen M. Modern climate has roots in Early Devonian. Science News 1998 Feb 14; 153 (7): 103.

Johanson Z, Ahlberg PE. A complete primitive rhizodont from Australia. Nature 1998 Aug 6; 569–3.

Lockey MG. The vertebrate track record. Nature 1998 Dec 5; 396: 429–32.

Meng J, McKenna MC. Faunal turnovers of Palaeogene mammals from the Mongolian Plateau. Nature 1998 Jul 23; 394: 364–7. Related reading: Hartenberger J-L. An Asian grande coupure. Nature 1998 Jul 23; 394: 321. Monastersky R. Climate did in giant Mongolian mammals. Science News 1998 Aug 1; 154 (6): 95.

Menon S. King claw. Discover 1998 Apr; 19 (4): 30.

Monastersky R. Wyoming wonder: Tiniest mammal ever? Science News 1998a Oct 17; 154 (16): 255. Related reading: Leutwyler K. Mini-mammal. Scientific American 1998 Dec; 279 (6): 26.

Monastersky R. Dinosaur denizens of the dark. Science News 1998b Mar 14; 153 (11): 172. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Dinosaur bridge. New Scientist 1998 Feb 14; 157 (2121): 21.

Monastersky R. Dinosaurs kept warm in the polar chill. Science News 1998c May 30; 153 (22): 351. Related reading: Anderson I. In from the cold. New Scientist 1998 Apr 18; 158 (2130): 13.

Motani R, Minoura N, Ando T. Ichthyosaurian relationships illuminated by new primitive skeletons from Japan. Nature 1998 May 21; 393: 255–7. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Fishy mystery. New Scientist 1998 May 23; 158 (2135): 27.

Poinar HN, Hofreiter M, Spaulding WG, Martin PS, Stankiewicz BA, Bland H, Evershed RP, Possnert G, Pääbo S. Molecular coproscopy: Dung and diet of the extinct ground sloth Nothrotheriops shastensis. Science 1998 Jul 17; 281: 402–6. Related reading: Monastersky R. Paleoscatology: Prying DNA from dated dung. Science News 1998 Jul 18; 154 (3): 38. Stokstad E. A fruitful scoop for ancient DNA. Science 1998 Jul 17; 281: 319–20.

Ren D. Flower-associated Brachycera flies as fossil evidence for Jurassic angiosperm origins. Science 1998 Apr 3; 280: 85–8. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Fossil flies. Discover 1998 Aug; 19 (8): 33. Labandeira CC. How old is the flower and the fly? Science 1998 Apr 3; 280: 57–9.

Rougier GW, Wible JR, Novacek MJ. Implications of Deltatheridium specimens for early marsupial history. Nature 1998 Dec 3; 396: 459–63.

Sampson SD, Witmer LM, Forster CA, Krause DW, O'Conner PM, Dodson P, Ravoavy F. Predatory dinosaur remains from Madagascar: Implications for the Cretaceous biogeography of Gondwana. Science 1998 May 15; 280: 1048–51. Related reading: [Anonymous]. A new T. rex cousin. Discover 1998 Aug; 19 (8): 22.

Sasso CD, Signore M. Exceptional soft-tissue preservation in a theropod dinosaur from Italy. Nature 1998 Mar 26; 392: 383–7. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Bambinosaurus. Discover 1998 Jun; 19 (6): 20. [Anonymous]. A dino with guts. Earth 1998 Aug; 7 (4): 17. Leutwyler K. Dinosaur innards. Scientific American 1998 Jun; 278 (6): 20. Monastersky R. Getting to the guts of a dinosaur. Science News 1998 Apr 18; 153 (16): 252.

Sato T, Tanabe K. Cretaceous plesiosaurs ate ammonites. Nature 1998 Aug 13; 394: 629–30. Related reading: [Anonymous]. A bellyful of jaws. Discover 1998 Nov; 19 (11): 36.

Sereno PC, Beck AL, Dutheil DB, Gado B, Larsson HCE, Lyon GH, Marcot JD, Rauhut OWM, Sadleir RW, Sidor CA, Varricchio DD, Wilson GP, Wilson JA. A long-snouted predatory dinosaur from Africa and the evolution of spinosaurids. Science 1998 Nov 13; 282: 1298–302. Related reading: Hecht J. Fish swam in fear. New Scientist 1998 Nov 21; 160 (2161): 5. Holtz TR Jr. Spinosaurs as crocodile mimics. Science 1998 Nov 13; 282: 1276–7. Monastersky R. Fish-eating dinosaur found in Africa. Science News 1998 Nov 14; 154 (20): 308.

Shoshani J. Understanding proboscidean evolution: a formidable task. Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 Dec; 13 (12): 480–7.

Stokstad E. Young dinos grew up fast. Science 1998 Oct 23; 282: 603–4.

Sun G, Dilcher DL, Zheng S, Zhou Z. In search of the first flower: A Jurassic angiosperm, Archaefrustus, from northeast China. Science 1998 Nov 27; 282: 1692–5. Related reading: Crepet WL. The abominable mystery. Science 1998 Nov 27; 282: 1653–4. Hecht J. Floral pioneers were blooming ugly. New Scientist 1998 Dec 5; 160 (2163): 6.

Tarduno JA, Brinkman DB, Renne PR, Cottrell RD, Scher H, Castillo P. Evidence for extreme climatic warmth from late Cretaceous arctic vertebrates. Science 1998 Dec 18; 282: 2241–4. Related reading: Huber BT. Tropical paradise at the Cretaceous poles? Science 1998 Dec 18; 282: 2199–2200. Yam P. Arctic warmth. Scientific American 1999 Mar; 87 (3): 28.

Zimmer C. Into the night. Discover 1998a Nov; 19 (11): 102–15.

Zimmer C. At the Water's Edge: Macroevolution and the Transformation of Life. New York: The Free Press, 1998b.

Zimmer C. The equation of a whale. Discover 1998c Apr; 19 (4): 78–84.


Ackerman J. Dinosaurs take wing. National Geographic 1998 Jul; 194 (1): 74–99.

[Anonymous]. Counting the fingers of birds and dinosaurs. Science 1998 Apr 17; 280: 355.

Britt BB, Makovicky PJ, Gauthier J, Bonde N. Postcranial pneumatization in Archaeopteryx. Nature 1998 Sep 24; 395: 374–6.

Chen P-J, Dong Z-M, Zhen S-N. An exceptionally well-preserved theropod dinosaur from the Yixian Formation of China. Nature 1998 Jan 8; 391:147–52. Related reading: [Anonymous]. A feathered dinosaur? Discover 1998 May; 19 (5): 19. Unwin DM. Feathers, filaments and theropod dinosaurs. Nature 1998 Jan 3; 391:119–20.

Chiappe LM. Wings over Spain. Natural History 1998 Sep; 107 (7): 30–3. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Old Gobi bird. Discover 1998 Sep; 19 (9): 20.

Chiappe LM, Norell MA, Clark JM. The skull of a relative of the stem-group bird Mononykus. Nature 1998 Mar 19; 392: 276–8.

Dingus L, Rowe T. The Mistaken Extinction: Dinosaur Evolution and the Origin of Birds. New York: WH Freeman and Company, 1998.

Forster CA, Sampson SD, Chiappe LM, Krause DW. The theropod ancestry of birds: New evidence from the late Cretaceous of Madagascar. Science 1998 Mar 20; 279: 1915–9; Related reading: Gibbons A. Missing link ties birds, dinosaurs. Science 1998 Mar 20; 279: 1851–2. Monastersky R. On the line from dinosaurs to birds. Science News 1998 Apr 18; 153 (16): 252. Padian K. Bird, dinosaur link [letter]. Science 1998 May 15; 280: 986–7. Zimmer C. A sickle in the clouds. Discover 1998 June; 19 (6): 32.

Hicks JW, Farmer CG, and others. Lung ventilation and gas exchange in theropod dinosaurs [letters]. Science 1998 Jun 26; 281: 45–48.

Holden C. Big bird laid "dino" eggs? Science 1998 Jan 9; 279: 183. Related reading: Hecht J. Funny old bird. New Scientist 1998 Jan 10; 157 (2116): 18.

Ji Q, Currie PJ, Norell MA, Ji S-A. Two feathered dinosaurs from northeastern China. Nature 1998 Jun 25; 393: 753–61. Related reading: Fischman J. Feathers don't make the bird. Discover 1999 Jan; 20 (1): 48–9. Gibbons A. Dinosaur fossils, in fine feather, show link to birds. Science 1998 Jun 26; 280: 2051. Monastersky R. Feathered dinosaurs found in China. Science News 1998 Jun 27; 153 (26): 404. Padian K. When is a bird not a bird? Nature 1998 Jun 25; 393: 729–30.

Ostrom JH, Padian K, Martin L. Bones of contention [letters]. The Sciences 1998 Sep/Oct; 38 (5): 3, 9, 46–7.

Padian K, Chiappe LM. The origin of birds and their flight. Scientific American 1998 Feb; 278 (2): 38–47. Related reading: Feduccia A, Martin L, Hou L-H, Dodworth A. [Letters]. Scientific American 1998 Jun; 278 (6): 8–8A.

Shipman P. Taking Wing: Archaeopteryx and the Evolution of Bird Flight. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1998. Related reading: Swartz S. Into Jurassic air. Science 1998 Jul 17; 281: 355–6.

Stidham TA. A lower jaw from a Cretaceous parrot. Nature 1998 Nov 5; 396: 29–30.

Thomas ALR, Garner JP. Are birds dinosaurs? Trends in Ecology and Evolution 1998 Apr; 13 (4): 129–30.

Wang J. Scientists flock to explore China's "site of the century". Science 1998 Mar 13; 279: 1626–7.

Zhao X, Xu X. The oldest coelurosaurian. Nature 1998 Jul 16; 394: 234–5. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Pioneer biped. Discover 1998 Apr; 19 (4): 29.


Babcock LE. Experimental investigation of the processes of fossilization. Journal of Geosciences Education 1998 May; 46 (3): 252–60.

Hazard EB. Teaching about "intermediate forms". The American Biology Teacher 1998 May; 60 (5): 359–61.

Human Evolution

Agnew N, Demas M. Preserving the Laetoli footprints. Scientific American 1998 Sep; 279 (3): 44–55.

Albianelli A, Azzaroli A, Benvenuti M, Tesfamariam B, Bruni P, Cipriani N, Clarke RJ, Ficcarelli G, Macchiarelli R, Napoleone G, Papini M, Rook R, Sagri M, Tecle TM, Torre D, Villa I, Abbate E. A one-million-year-old Homo cranium from the Danakil (Afar) Depression of Eritrea. Nature 1998 Jun 4; 393: 458–60. Related reading: [Anonymous]. A million–year-old relative. Discover 1998 Sep; 19 (9): 26. Bower B. Ancient skull fills big fossil gap. Science News 1998 Jun 6; 153 (23): 356. Gibbons A. Old, old skull has a new look. Science 1998 Jun 5; 280: 1525.

[Anonymous]. Small beginnings. Earth 1998a Aug; 7 (4): 11–2.

[Anonymous]. An upstanding ape. Discover 1998b Feb; 19 (2): 14.

[Anonymous]. A global winter's tale. Discover 1998c Dec; 19 (12): 30.

Appenzeller T. Art: Evolution or revolution? Science 1998 Nov 20; 282: 1451–4.

Appenzeller T, Clery D, Culotta E. Archaeology: Transitions in prehistory. Science 1998 Nov 20; 282: 1441.

Balter M. Why settle down? The mystery of communities. Science 1998 Nov 20; 282: 1442–5.

Bird M, Olley J, Galbraith R, Lawson E, Laslett G, Yoshida H, Jones R, Fullagar R, Jacobsen G, Hua Q, Roberts R. Optical and radiocarbon dating at Jinmium rock shelter in northern Australia. Nature 1998 May 28; 393: 358–62. Related reading: Bower B. Australian site jumps forward in time. Science News 1998 May 30; 153 (22) 343. Gibbons A. Young ages for Australian rock art. Science 1998 May 29; 280: 1351.

Bower B. Chimp brains show humanlike tilt to left. Science News 1998a Jan 10; 153 (2): 22.

Bower B. Doubts aired over Neandertal bone "flute". Science News 1998b Apr 4; 153 (14): 215.

Bower B. Cutting-edge pursuits in Stone Age. Science News 1998c Apr 11; 153 (15): 238.

Boyce N. Go west, young woman. New Scientist 1998 Oct 31; 160 (2158): 11.

Brainard J. Giving Neandertals their due. Science News 1998 Aug 1; 154 (5): 72–4. Related reading: Bahn PG. Neanderthals emancipated. Nature 1998 Aug 20; 394: 719–21. Current Anthropology 1998 Jun: 39: Supplement.

Cartmill M. The gift of gab. Discover 1998 Nov; 19 (11): 56–64.

Chu JY, Huang W, Kuang SQ, Wang JM, Xu JJ, Chu ZT, Yang ZQ, Lin KQ, Li P, Wu M, Geng ZC, Tan CC, Du RF, Jin L. Genetic relationship of populations in China. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Sep 29; 95 (20): 11763–8. Related reading: Bower B. Asian dna enters human origins fray. Science News 1998 Oct 3; 154: 212. Cavalli-Sforza LL. The Chinese Human Genome Diversity Project. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998; 95 (20): 11501–3. Piazza A. Towards a genetic history of China. Nature 1998 Oct 15; 395: 636–9.

Conroy GC, Weber GW, Seidler H, Tobias PV Kane A, Brunsden B. Endocranial capacity in an early hominid cranium from Sterkfontein, South Africa. Science 1998 Jun 12; 280: 1730–1. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Endocranial Capacity of Early Hominids. Science 1999 Jan 1; 283: 9. Falk D. Hominid brain evolution: Looks can be deceiving. Science 1998 Jun 12; 280: 1714. Holloway RL, and others. Hominid brain volume [letter]. Science 1999 Jan 1; 283: 34–35.

Copley J. Nearly out of Africa. New Scientist 1998 Oct 10; 160 (2155): 12. Related reading: [Anonymous]. The ancient tomb of a young child. Discover 1998 Nov; 19 (11): 28. Bower B. Ancient child's burial on the Nile. Science News 1998 Oct 10; 154 (15): 235.

Gee H. The face of Cinderella. Nature 1998 Dec 10; 396: 521. Related reading: Bower B. Ancient ancestor reveals skeletal stamina. Science News 1998 Dec 19/26; 154 (25/26): 389.

Gibbons A. New study points to Eurasian ape as great ape ancestor. Science 1998a Jul 31; 281: 622–3. Related reading: Lewin R. Getting back to our routes. New Scientist 1998 Aug 1; 159 (2145): 14.

Gibbons A. Which of our genes make us human. Science 1998b Sep 4; 281: 1432–4. Related reading: Chou H-H, Takematsu T, Diaz S, Iber J, Nickerson E, Wright KL, Muchmore EA, Nelson DL, Warren ST, Varki A. A mutation in human CMP-sialic acid hydroxylase occurred after the Homo–Pan divergence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998; 95 (20): 11751–6. Leigh SR and Ryder OA. Chimp research [letters]. Science 1998 Oct 2; 282: 47.

Gibbons A. Calibrating the mitochondrial clock. Science 1998c Jan 2; 279: 28–9.

Hammer MF, Karafet T, Rasanayagam A, Wood ET, Altheide TK, Jenkins T, Griffiths RC,Templeton AR, Zegura SL. Out of Africa and back again: Nested cladistic analysis of human Y chromosome variation. Molecular Biology and Evolution 1998 Apr; 15 (4): 427–41.

Harpending HC, Batzer MA, Gurven M, Jorde LB, Rogers AR, Sherry ST. Genetic traces of ancient demography. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Feb 17; 95 (4): 1961–7.

Holden C. Humanity's baby steps. Science 1998a Nov 27; 282: 1635. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Out of Africa: Footprints in the sands of time. Discover 1999 Mar; 20 (3): 24.

Holden C. How much like us were the Neandertals? Science 1998b Nov 20; 282: 1456. Related reading: Wolpoff MH. Neandertals: Not so fast [letter]. Science 1998 Dec 11; 282: 1991. Wong K. Ancestral quandary: Neanderthals not our ancestors? Not so fast. Scientific American 1998 Jan; 278 (1): 30–2.

Holden C. No last world on language origins. Science 1998c Nov 20; 282: 1455–8.

Kay RF, Cartmill M, Balow M. The hypoglossal canal and the origin of human vocal behavior. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Apr 28; 95 (9): 5417–9. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Not so dumb. New Scientist 1998 May 2; 158 (2132): 23. Bower B. Language origins may reside in skull canals. Science News 1998 May 2; 153 (18): 276. Motluk A. Early spinal cords were a talking point. New Scientist 1998 Apr 18; 158 (2130): 11.

Leakey MG, Feibel CS, McDougall I, Ward C, Walker A. New specimens and confirmation of an early age for Australopithecus anamensis. Nature 1998 May 17; 393: 62–6. Related reading: [Anonymous]. The first man? New Scientist 1998 Jun 6; 158 (2137): 24. Bower B. Early hominid rises again. Science News 1998 May 16; 153 (20): 315.

Lewin R. Young Americans. New Scientist 1998a Oct 17; 160 (2156): 24–8.

Lewin R. Principles of Human Evolution. Malden (MA): Blackwell Science, Inc, 1998b.

Lieberman DE. Sphenoid shortening and the evolution of modern human cranial shape. Nature 1998 May 14; 393: 158–62.

Lincoln T. Lucy takes a stroll. Nature 1998 Jul 23; 394: 325.

MacKenzie D. Walk this way. New Scientist 1998 Mar 7; 157 (2124): 24.

McDonald KA. New evidence challenges traditional model of how the New World was settled. The Chronicle of Higher Education 1998 Mar 13; 44 (27): A22–3. Related reading: [Anonymous]. The first Americans circa 20 000 BC. Discover 1998 Jun; 19 (6): 24.

McKie R. The people eaters. New Scientist 1998 Mar 14; 157 (2125): 43–6.

McKinney ML. The juvenilized ape myth — Our "overdeveloped" brain. BioScience 1998 Feb; 48 (2): 109–16.

Mellars P. The fate of the Neanderthals. Nature 1998 Oct 8; 395: 539–40.

Morwood MJ, O'Sullivan PB, Aziz F, Raza A. Fission-track ages of stone tools and fossils on the east Indonesian island of Flores. Nature 1998 Mar 12; 392: 173–6. Related reading: Bower B. Human ancestor may have taken to sea. Science News 1998 Mar 14; 153 (11): 164. Gibbons A. Ancient island tools suggest Homo erectus was a seafarer. Science 1998 Mar 13; 279: 1635–7. Thwaites T. Ancient mariners. New Scientist 1998 Mar 14; 157 (2125): 6; Kunzig R. Erectus Afloat. Discover 1999 Jan; 20 (1): 80.

Pringle H. The slow birth of agriculture. Science 1998 Nov 20; 282: 1446–50.

Schroeder GL. The Science of God. New York: The Free Press, 1997.

Svitil K. No, after you, Afarensis. Discover 1999 Jan; 20 (1): 81.

Weiner S, Xu Q, Goldberg P, Liu J, Bar-Yosef O. Evidence for the use of fire at Zhoukoudian, China. Science 1998 Jul 10; 281: 251–3. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Investigating the possible use of fire at Zhoukoudian, China. Science 1999 Jan 15; 283: 299. Bower B. Ancient fire use flickers inside cave. Science News 1998 Jul 11; 154 (2): 22. Wheeler DL. 'Earliest campfire' now placed in doubt. The Chronicle of Higher Education 1998 Jul 17; 44 (45): A22. Wuethrich B. Geological analysis damps ancient Chinese fires. Science 1998 Jul 10; 281: 165–6.

Zietkiewicz E, Yotova V, Jarnik M, Korab-Laskowska M, Kidd KK, Modiano D, Scozzari R, Stoneking M, Tishkoff S, Batzer M, Labuda D. Genetic structure of the ancestral population of modern humans. Journal of Molecular Evolution 1998 Aug; 47: 146–55.

Chapter 5. Homology

Amores A, Force A, Yan Y-L, Joly L, Amemiya C, Fritz A, Ho RK, Langeland J, Prince V, Wang Y-L, Westerfield M, Ekker M, Postlethwait JH. Zebrafish hox clusters and vertebrate genome evolution. Science 1998 Nov 27; 282: 1711–4. Related reading: Vogel G. Doubled genes may explain fish diversity. Science 1998 Aug 21; 281: 1119–21.

Behe MJ, Sander K, Bender R. Embryology and evolution [letters]. Science 1998 Jul 17; 281: 348–9. Related reading: Richardson MK. Haeckel's embryos, continued [letter]. Science 1998 Aug 28; 281: 1289.

Brooke NM, Garcia-Fernandez J, Holland PWH. The ParaHox gene cluster is an evolutionary sister of the Hox gene cluster. Nature 1998 Apr 20; 392: 920–2.

Cameron RA, Peterson KJ, Davidson EH. Developmental gene regulation and the evolution of large animal body plans. American Zoologist 1998; 38 (4): 609–20.

Dreyer WJ. The area code hypothesis revisited: Olfactory receptors and other related transmembrane receptors may function as the last digits in a cell surface code for assembling embryos. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Aug 4; 95 (16): 9072–7.

Duboule D, Wilkins AS. The evolution of bricolage. Trends in Genetics 1998 Feb; 14 (2): 54–9.

Gardner DM, Torok MA, Mullen LM, Bryant SV. Evolution of vertebrate limbs: Robust morphology and flexible development. American Zoologist 1998; 38 (4): 659–71.

Gilbert SF. Conceptual breakthroughs in development biology. Journal of Biosciences 1998 Sep; 23 (3): 169–76.

Hall BK. Germ layers and the germ-layer theory revisited: Primary and secondary germ layers, neural crest as a fourth germ layer, homology, and demise of the germ-layer theory. Evolutionary Biology 1998; 30: 121–86.

Hanken J, Richardson MK. Haeckel's embryos [letter]. Science 1998 Feb 27; 279: 1288.

Henry GL, Melton DA. Mixer, a homeobox gene required for endoderm development. Science 1998 Jun 26; 281: 91–6.

Holland LZ, Holland ND. Developmental gene expression in Amphioxus: New insights into the evolutionary origin of vertebrate brain regions, neural crest, and rostrocaudal segmentation. American Zoologist 1998; 38 (4): 647–58.

Kmita-Cunisse M, Loosli F, Bierne J, Gehring WJ. Homeobox genes in the ribbonworm Linea sanguineus: Evolutionary implications. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Mar 17; 95 (6): 3030–5.

Lee MSY. Similarity, parsimony and conjecture of homology: The chelonian shoulder girdle revisited. Journal of Evolutionary Biology 1998 May; 11: 379–87.

Lewin R. Family feuds. New Scientist 1998 Jan 24; 157 (2118): 36–40.

Martindale MQ, Henry JQ. The development of radial and biradial symmetry: The evolution of bilaterality. American Zoologist 1998; 38 (4): 672–84.

Martinez DE, Bridge D, Masuda-Nakagawa LM, Cartwright P. Cnidarian homeoboxes and the zootype. Nature 1998 Jun 25; 393: 748–9.

Meyer A. Hox gene variation and evolution. Nature 1998 Jan 15; 225–8.

Pendick D. When life got legs. Earth 1998 Aug; 7 (4): 26–33.

Prince VE. Hox genes and segmental patterning of the vertebrate hindbrain. American Zoologist 1998; 38 (4): 634–6.

Richardson MK, Hanken J, Gooneratne ML, Pieau C, Raynaud A, Selwood L, Wright GM. There is no highly conserved embryonic stage in the vertebrates: Implications for current theories of evolution and development. Anatomy and Embryology 1997; 196: 91–106.

Richardson MK, Hanken J, Selwood L, Wright GM, Richards RJ, Pieau C, Raynaud A. Haeckel, embryos, and evolution [letter]. Science 1998 May 15; 280: 983–5.

Schwabe JWR, Rodriguez-Esteban C, Belmonte JCI. Limbs are moving: where are they going? Trends in Genetics 1998 Jun; 14 (6): 229–35.

Strauss E. How embryos shape up. Science 1998 Jul 10; 281: 166–7.

Tautz D. Debatable homologies. Nature 1998 Sep 3; 395: 17–18.

Wray GA, Raff RA. Body builders of the sea. Natural History 1998 Dec/Jan; 107 (10): 38–47.

Chapter 6: Biochemistry

Anderson CL, Canning EU, Okamura B. A triploblast origin for Myxozoa? Nature 1998 Mar 26; 392: 346.

Balavoine G, Adoutte A. One or three Cambrian radiations? Science 1998 Apr 17; 280: 397–8.

Collins AG. Evaluation multiple alternative hypotheses for the origin of Bilateria: An analysis of 18S rRNA molecular evidence. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Dec 22; 95 (26): 15458–63.

De Ley P, Garey JR, Liu LX, Scheldeman P, Vierstraete A, Vanfleteren JR, Mackey LY, Dorris M, Frisse LM, Vida JT, Thomas WK, Blaxter ML. A molecular evolutionary framework for the phylum Nematoda. Nature 1998 Mar 5; 392: 71–6. Related reading: Anderson RC. Out of order [letter]. Nature 1998 May 14; 393: 10. Nielsen C. Sequences lead to tree of worms. Nature 1998 Mar 5; 392: 25–6.

Gaut BS. Molecular clocks and nucleotide substitution rates in higher plants. Evolutionary Biology 1998; 30: 93–120.

Kumar S, Hedges SB. A molecular timescale for vertebrate evolution. Nature 1998 Apr 30; 392: 917–20. Related reading: Gibbons A. Genes put mammals in age of dinosaurs. Science 1998 May 1; 280: 675–6. McDonald KA. Mammals diversified earlier than believed. The Chronicle of Higher Education 1998 May 29; 44 (38): A21.

Maley LE, Marshall CR. The coming of age of molecular systematics. Science 1998 Jan 23; 279: 505–6.

Normile D. New views of the origins of mammals. Science 1998 Aug 7; 281: 774–5. Related reading: Wong K. Cetacean creation. Scientific American 1999 Jan; 87 (1): 26–30.

Qiu Y-L, Cho Y, Cox JC, Palmer JD. The gain of three mitochondrial introns identifies liverworts as the earliest land plants. Nature 1998 Aug 13; 394: 671–4. Related reading: [Anonymous]. The Ur-plant. Discover 1998 Nov; 19 (11): 26.

Schubart CD, Diesel R, Blair-Hedges S. Rapid evolution to terrestrial life in Jamaican crabs. Nature 1998 May 28; 363–5. Related reading: Tromans A. Land-loving crabs. Nature 1998 May 28; 393: 305.

Springer MS, Westerman M, Kavanagh JR, Burk A, Woodburne MO, Kao DJ, Krajewski C. The origin of the Australasian marsupial fauna and the phyogenetic affinities of the enigmatic monito del monte and marsupial mole. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 1998 Dec 22; 265 (1413): 2381–6.

Ursing BM, Arnason U. Analyses of mitochondrial genomes strongly support a hippopotamus-whale clade. Proceedings of the Royal Society of London Series B 1998 Dec 7; 265 (1412): 2251–5.

Zardoya R, Meyer A. Complete mitochondrial genome suggests diapsid affinities of turtles. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences 1998 Nov 24; 95 (24): 14226–31. Related reading: [Anonymous]. Don't mess with me — my cousin's a dinosaur. New Scientist 1998 Nov 28; 160 (2162): 25. Monastersky R. Turtle genes upset reptilian family tree. Science News 1998 Dec 5; 154 (23): 358.

About the Author(s): 
Frank J Sonleitner
Department of Zoology
University of Oklahoma
Norman, OK 73019

The Search for Noah's Ark in the Science Curriculum?

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
The Search for Noah's Ark in the Science Curriculum?
Jerry L Day
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
On December 16, 1999, the San Bernardino County Sun carried a front page article entitled "Mythic Science", in which a science teacher at a local high school related details about his personal quest to locate Noah's Ark upon Mount Ararat. A television interview of the teacher was aired on February 7, 2000, on the "Evening Edition" program produced by the local PBS affiliate, KVCR TV 24, San Bernardino. Comments made by the teacher in the interviews indicated that he was incorporating material related to his search for Noah's Ark into his public high school science class. In the interviews, the teacher said that he used the Ark Search as "an example of the scientific method" and that he presented alternative theories of geology to his students, including the notion "that there could have been a global event that formed much of the sedimentary rock layers".

The immediate concern raised by these interviews was that the Genesis narrative of the Noachian Flood and related creationist concepts of flood geology were being presented, as science, in the context of a public high school science class. This is not only bad science; it is bad theology in the view of many religious communities, including the Roman Catholic Church. This also appeared to be a violation of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, since the teacher is employed at a public school, is therefore an agent of the government, and, as such, is prohibited from advocating religious claims to his students.

Having scrutinized these interviews, a number of concerned individuals contacted the NCSE and other organizations, formed a coalition to address the issue, and contacted the appropriate school district administration with our concerns. Our efforts have been successful. After about three months since the issue was first raised, the school district has taken steps to ensure that this teacher will stop using material that could be interpreted as creationist in nature and present only the approved science curriculum to his class.

Dealing with this issue has been a valuable learning experience for my associates and me. I would like to share with you some of the lessons we have learned.
  • Do not overreact. Our concern on learning of the teacher's activities was that school authorities might somehow be condoning or turning a blind eye to what the teacher was doing. It soon became apparent that members of the school board and administration were simply not well informed about the issues and that it would take time for them to come up to speed. In hindsight, some portions of our initial letters, though carefully reasoned, were more aggressive in tone than was appropriate. The result was that it probably took more time than was necessary for the school administration to trust us; unfortunately, we were viewed initially as extremists.

  • Keep your manner friendly, dignified, and nonconfrontational. Throughout our interactions with school district administrators, we were careful to treat them with respect and as professionals. At one point, maintaining a nonconfrontational demeanor entailed distancing ourselves from potential allies who apparently relished the controversy as much or more than the opportunity to obtain a satisfactory resolution. At another point, we declined the offer of media attention about the issue because we had achieved a cooperative relationship with the school district administration. We decided that sparing the district the publicity would expedite a speedy resolution of the issue. Acting in a nonconfrontational manner enabled our group to communicate effectively with the school district administrators who had the power to resolve the issue.

  • Attend school board meetings and introduce yourself to those officials with whom you have corresponded. A friendly handshake helps to establish a personal rapport, and it always helps for names to be connected to faces. When we deliberately passed up the opportunity to comment in the open forum session of a school board meeting, the district administration came to understand that we were not extremists seeking controversy, but concerned, individuals seeking a reasonable solution.

  • Do your homework and use available local resources. In our case, local colleges and universities provided our group with two very effective representatives of the scientific and educational communities. Local high schools provided several other concerned science educators. The San Bernardino County Democratic Central Committee also provided valuable assistance in locating concerned parents in the community.

  • Do not ignore local religious resources. Our group's connections to religious organizations helped us to find articles and spokespersons that supported curriculum standards that insisted that science, not creationism or religion, should be taught in science classes. Many mainstream religious organizations can be quite supportive of science education and of the separation of religion and government.

  • Use available internet resources. The internet proved to be an indispensable source of information in support of our research. We had instant access to background material on the creationist movement, California State science curriculum standards, and relevant court decisions upholding the teaching of science. The NCSE web site is an excellent starting point: http://www.natcenscied.org/.

  • Use resources available from national organizations. The NCSE, the ACLU, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State provided information, guidance, and moral support. The NCSE, in particular, served as a clearinghouse for information and for concerned individuals. The NCSE initially connected our group members with one another. Special credit is due Molleen Matsumura of the NCSE. The National Science Teachers Association and the National Research Council of the National Academy of Sciences also proved to be valuable sources of information. Through our contacts with these organizations, our group became more effective and appeared stronger than it might have otherwise.

  • Find at least one concerned parent in the local community. Your arguments will carry more weight with the school district if they are made by parents who have children attending local schools. When our group initiated our complaint with the district, we did not know any parents of students in the school district. Not having the help of concerned parents in our group hampered our initial efforts to communicate the urgency of our concerns to the school district.

  • Once your homework is done, be willing to go public. The local Public Broadcasting System affiliate, KVCR, offered our group an interview to rebut the earlier interview of the high school teacher. Disclosure to the school district of the willingness of our group's PhD geologist to participate in the rebuttal interview coincided with a timely and appropriate decision by the school district to limit science classroom instruction to established scientific theories.

  • Use e-mail to keep your group informed and current. In our group, one member acted as the e-mail clearinghouse and made sure that all members had access to needed information. Not every e-mail went to every member of the group, but most did. Information sharing helped to keep our group working as a team. Having a clearinghouse and conducting peer reviews of all correspondence kept members from hitting the "send" button and regretting it in the morning.

  • Know the strengths of your group's members and divide tasks accordingly. In our case, we had individuals with expertise in geology, state and national science curriculum standards, science and theology issues, and the creationist movement and related legal issues. In our communication with the district, each member covered a different perspective: science and geology, state curriculum standards, constitutional and legal issues, or theology. One of our members had extensive experience in the education system and in the political processes surrounding state and national science education standards and served as a mediator between our group and the school district.
Through teamwork, effective communication, and perseverance, our group succeeded in encouraging the local school district to ensure that students at the high school receive a sound science education. We are still following the situation to ensure that there is long-term compliance by the teacher with the district's instructions.

As I mentioned before, this has been a valuable learning experience for all of us. The final lesson we have learned is that individuals can, and do, make a difference in the quality of education offered in a community, only if they are willing to stand up, speak out, and be heard. The following quote from Margaret Mead sums it up very well: "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has."

About the Author(s): 

Jerry L Day is a computer programmer for ESRI, Redlands, California.

Review: Genes, People, and Languages

Reports of the National Center for Science Education
Jeffrey M Otto, Rush University at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center, Chicago IL 60612
This version might differ slightly from the print publication.
Work under Review
Genes, People, and Languages
Luigi Luca Cavalli-Sforza [translated by Mark Seielstad]
San Francisco: North Point Press, 2000. 228 pages.

This book has the ambitious goal of combining relevant information from the fields of population genetics, archeology, and linguistics into a series of extended essays on human evolution. According to the jacket notes, "Genes, Peoples, and Languages comprises five lectures that serve as a summation of the author's work over several decades, the goal of which has been nothing less than tracking the past 100 000 years of human evolution." Cavalli-Sforza is a premier researcher in this field, with over 20 peer-reviewed papers published within the last 5 years (176 total), all in high ranking prestigious journals. Perhaps most interesting of these was an article with the same title as this book, published in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences in 1997 (PNAS 1997; 94: 7719-24). Strangely, even though a quick review of the PNAS article shows that both it and the book cover similar material, it was left out of the bibliography of Genes, Peoples, and Languages.

In the preface, Cavalli-Sforza states that he believes that, although scientific jargon increases precision and speed of communication between professionals, it hampers communication between disciplines. Consequently, he sought to minimize jargon as much as possible throughout the text. I believe that he succeeded in this task: the book is easy to read and quickly makes important points accessible to a general reader. I was impressed with the ease with which Cavalli-Sforza explained some fairly complex concepts in population genetics without employing jargon or mathematics. He handled with clarity the complexities surrounding the ancestral "Eve" and genetic studies of mitochondrial DNA, as well as analyses of the male-specific Y chromosome. Particularly pleasing were his explanations of the arbitrariness of race and of how superficial characteristics used to mark racial boundaries are only vague reflections of the underlying genetics. I found his perspective on race and genetics to be refreshing and a strong challenge to works such Richard J Herrnstein and Charles Murray's The Bell Curve.

Thanks to this book, I also learned a great deal regarding both linguistics and the history of the human species. I was particularly fascinated by the last 2 chapters of the book, which focused on the evolution of language and culture. That the development of language could be considered the major driving force of culture and progress was a novel concept to me - although it might be considered old hat by anthropologists or linguists. In my mind, that is the main strength of this book. Although I learned very little about my own field (genetics), I came away feeling very enlightened in the fields of both human archeology and linguistics. It was very refreshing to see genetics applied in these other disciplines. I suspect that professionals from the reciprocal fields will have the same opinion. I regard this book as aimed primarily at a lay audience, or educators and researchers whose fields lie outside the scope of the book. If you feel that you belong to one of these categories, then I can recommend this book without reservation.

However, as a researcher and scientist, I found 2 aspects of the book frustrating. My main complaint is with the way that references are used - or, rather, not used. There is a bibliography (86 references), but it seems a bit on the light side considering the scope of the book. I found the lack of referenced sources in the text frustrating because, when I find something interesting, I like to follow up with the references to get further information. In a text like this, where concepts are treated very generally and supporting data are often left out, the lack of references is a glaring omission. I sincerely doubt that the lay reader drawn to a book like this one would be discouraged by citations in the text, and the serious student or researcher would find them highly beneficial. If a second edition of this book is published, it would benefit greatly if sources were cited within the text and the bibliography expanded.

A second caveat is that the book has a tendency to meander and jump around quite a bit. This led to a very "folksy" feel to the translation, and made it comfortable to read. However, if the text were a bit tighter and more linear, I think that it would have been even easier to read and, on the whole, less confusing.

To conclude, I found the strengths of Genes, Peoples, and Languages to be its success in presenting complex concepts and relating them to several scientific disciplines. On the other hand, its weaknesses are its lack of in-depth detail, analyses, and, especially, references that the motivated reader can use to learn more about the topics. The audiences most likely to benefit or enjoy this book are lay persons who are genuinely interested in human evolution but who lack formal exposure to the discipline. I also believe that high school or college educators could easily use this book to link the 3 disciplines - population genetics, archaeology, and linguistics - together. However, researchers or professionals in the fields are likely to be disappointed by the general lack of depth in the text. To be fair, one has to choose an audience to write to, and it is pretty clear that Cavalli-Sforza had in mind a general readership when he wrote this book.

About the Author(s): 
Jeffrey M Otto, PhD
Assistant Professor
Section of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
Departments of Biochemistry and Orthopedic Surgery
Rush University at Rush-Presbyterian-St. Luke's Medical Center
Chicago IL 60612