How sticky toepads evolved in geckos


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Still, though I don’t doubt its effectiveness, the question remains whether we want to invoke such stringent punishments (stringent for those who believe, that is) on an MBA exam. Judging from the reactions in this case, I’m guessing that for most people, the answer is “no.” But it also makes me wonder about the people who didn’t want to sign this pledge….

  • Stossel and Ariely must also be wondering what is it about the human psyche and the Ten Commandments that produces this kind of reaction in students but not apes.



  • Well, no wonder.  People have a conscience.

    • Well, no wonder.  People have a conscience.

    • Exercise: Run an experiment in which students are warned before an exam to ponder the Fifteen Evolutionary Gems (hear podcast on ID the Future).



    They may be rooted in the ground, but plants run their own Olympic organization.

    • They may be rooted in the ground, but plants run their own Olympic organization.

    • Command and control center:  Running any large organization requires command and control.  Plants have one, too – one that runs on hormones.  A command and control center needs to respond to emergencies; plants can do that, too.  To see how they accomplish these functions, read “Lighting up the plant hormone ‘command system’” on PhysOrg.  The article ends with words from Zhiyong Wang of the Carnegie Institution:



    “This command system seems not only to accept various inputs, but also to send branches of output signals, too, because each component acts interdependently on shared targets, but also independently on unique sets of target genes,” Wang said. “This complex network contains multiple layers and controls major plant growth and developmental processes. We believe this network will be a major target for engineering high-yielding crops.”

    • “This command system seems not only to accept various inputs, but also to send branches of output signals, too, because each component acts interdependently on shared targets, but also independently on unique sets of target genes,” Wang said. “This complex network contains multiple layers and controls major plant growth and developmental processes. We believe this network will be a major target for engineering high-yielding crops.”



    Intelligence agency:  Another article on PhysOrg has the attention-getting title, “Tel Aviv University researcher says plants can see, smell, feel, and taste.”  The first paragraph adds to the wonder:

    • Intelligence agency:  Another article on PhysOrg has the attention-getting title, “Tel Aviv University researcher says plants can see, smell, feel, and taste.”  The first paragraph adds to the wonder:

    • Increasingly, scientists are uncovering surprising biological connections between humans and other forms of life. Now a Tel Aviv University researcher has revealed that plant and human biology is much closer than has ever been understood — and the study of these similarities could uncover the biological basis of diseases like cancer as well as other “animal” behaviors.



    Prof. Daniel Chamovitz’s new book What a Plant Knows “could prompt scientists to rethink what they know about biology,” the article states.  “Ultimately, he adds, if we share so much of our genetic makeup with plantswe have to reconsider what characterizes us as human.”  He wasn’t thinking of people who “veg out” instead of working out, but noted similarities, such as the human response to light in their circadian rhythms that is similar to that in plants.  They “see” by using light “as a behavioral signal, letting them know when to open their leaves to gather necessary nutrients.”  They “smell” and have “memory” too–

    • Prof. Daniel Chamovitz’s new book What a Plant Knows “could prompt scientists to rethink what they know about biology,” the article states.  “Ultimately, he adds, if we share so much of our genetic makeup with plants, we have to reconsider what characterizes us as human.”  He wasn’t thinking of people who “veg out” instead of working out, but noted similarities, such as the human response to light in their circadian rhythms that is similar to that in plants.  They “see” by using light “as a behavioral signal, letting them know when to open their leaves to gather necessary nutrients.”  They “smell” and have “memory” too–



    And that’s not the limit of plant “senses.” Plants also demonstrate smell — a ripe fruit releases a “ripening pheromone” in the air, which is detected by unripe fruit and signals them to follow suit — as well as the ability to feel and taste. To some degree, plants also have different forms of “memory,” allowing them to encode, store, and retrieve information.

    • And that’s not the limit of plant “senses.” Plants also demonstrate smell — a ripe fruit releases a “ripening pheromone” in the air, which is detected by unripe fruit and signals them to follow suit — as well as the ability to feel and taste. To some degree, plants also have different forms of “memory,” allowing them to encode, store, and retrieve information.



    Even more intriguing, plants have some of the same genes that are implicated in breast cancer and cystic fibrosis in humans.  “Plants might not come down with these diseases, but the biological basis is the same, says Prof. Chamovitz,” a remarkable fact hard to square with evolutionary theory which would put the common ancestor of plants and humans far back in the microbial world.

    • Even more intriguing, plants have some of the same genes that are implicated in breast cancer and cystic fibrosis in humans.  “Plants might not come down with these diseases, but the biological basis is the same, says Prof. Chamovitz,” a remarkable fact hard to square with evolutionary theory which would put the common ancestor of plants and humans far back in the microbial world.



    Communications hub:  The sight of a whole field of wildflowers blooming simultaneously is beautiful, but raises the question: How do they know when to flower?  In a featurette about women in science, PhysOrg reported about professor Carolyn Dean who studied that very question.  The short answer is that plant flowering genes have repressors that prevent flowering until environmental factors remove them.  “The way this memory works is very conserved which means it works in a similar way in many organisms including humans.

    • Communications hub:  The sight of a whole field of wildflowers blooming simultaneously is beautiful, but raises the question: How do they know when to flower?  In a featurette about women in science, PhysOrg reported about professor Carolyn Dean who studied that very question.  The short answer is that plant flowering genes have repressors that prevent flowering until environmental factors remove them.  “The way this memory works is very conserved which means it works in a similar way in many organisms including humans.



    Environmental responsibility:  Plants are certainly part of “green” energy use and pollution control, but now, the American Chemical Society says that “Green plants reduce city street pollution up to eight times more than previously believed.”  City planners would do well to include more ivy, hedges and planters in “urban canyons” to clean up their act, reported PhysOrg.

    • Environmental responsibility:  Plants are certainly part of “green” energy use and pollution control, but now, the American Chemical Society says that “Green plants reduce city street pollution up to eight times more than previously believed.”  City planners would do well to include more ivy, hedges and planters in “urban canyons” to clean up their act, reported PhysOrg.



    As usual, these articles had little or nothing to say about evolution, because none of the findings are helpful to evolutionary theory.  They provide negative arguments against Darwinism, such as requiring the complexity to appear inexplicably far back into some microbial common ancestor; and they provide positive evidence for intelligent design, such as the ability to “encode, store, and retrieve information.”  The natural inference from our experience is that commonality in complex features implies common design.  Follow this evidence to its logical conclusion, and you will undoubtedly enjoy the plants around you more.

    • As usual, these articles had little or nothing to say about evolution, because none of the findings are helpful to evolutionary theory.  They provide negative arguments against Darwinism, such as requiring the complexity to appear inexplicably far back into some microbial common ancestor; and they provide positive evidence for intelligent design, such as the ability to “encode, store, and retrieve information.”  The natural inference from our experience is that commonality in complex features implies common design.  Follow this evidence to its logical conclusion, and you will undoubtedly enjoy the plants around you more.



    A new study shows that scientific research on moth camouflage does not require evolutionary theory.

    • A new study shows that scientific research on moth camouflage does not require evolutionary theory.

    • Evolutionary biologists from Seoul, South Korea filmed moths resting on tree trunks.  According to PhysOrg, they were trying to understand how moths in the wild orient themselves on the bark for greatest camouflage.  That’s a very different question than the ones asked by Kettlewell, Majerus and other past researchers who were looking for natural selection of peppered moths.  In those old studies, camouflage was a happenstance, not a behavior within the moth.  The opening paragraph referred to the old ideas as if preparing to dismiss them:



    Moths are iconic examples of camouflage. Their wing coloration and patterns are shaped by natural selection to match the patterns of natural substrates, such as a tree bark or leaves, on which the moths rest. But, according to recent findings, the match in the appearance was not all in their invisibility… Despite a long history of research on these iconic insects, whether moths behave in a way to increase their invisibility has not been determined.

    • Moths are iconic examples of camouflage. Their wing coloration and patterns are shaped by natural selection to match the patterns of natural substrates, such as a tree bark or leaves, on which the moths rest. But, according to recent findings, the match in the appearance was not all in their invisibility… Despite a long history of research on these iconic insects, whether moths behave in a way to increase their invisibility has not been determined.



    In other words, Kettlewell and Majerus didn’t take into account the moths’ behavior.  They treated moths as passive creatures that would alight on tree trunks at random.  They placed the selective power in the environment, with lower contrast producing greater camouflage, leaving the high-contrast moths vulnerable to birds.

    • In other words, Kettlewell and Majerus didn’t take into account the moths’ behavior.  They treated moths as passive creatures that would alight on tree trunks at random.  They placed the selective power in the environment, with lower contrast producing greater camouflage, leaving the high-contrast moths vulnerable to birds.



    The South Korean researchers found, instead, that moth behavior plays a vital role in the camouflage.  They “found out that moths are walking on the tree bark until they settle down for resting; the insects seem to actively search for a place and a body position that makes them practically invisible.”  A video clip embedded in the article shows the moths doing this.

    • The South Korean researchers found, instead, that moth behavior plays a vital role in the camouflage.  They “found out that moths are walking on the tree bark until they settle down for resting; the insects seem to actively search for a place and a body position that makes them practically invisible.”  A video clip embedded in the article shows the moths doing this.



    To determine whether this final spot indeed made the moth really invisible, the researchers photographed each moth at its landing spot (initial spot) and at the final spot at which the moth decided to rest. Next, the researchers asked people to try to locate the moth from the photograph as quickly as possible. People had more difficulty finding the moths at their final spots than the same moths at their initial landing spots. Amazingly, this was even true for the species (Hypomecis roboraria) that only changed its resting spot on the tree bark without changing its body orientation. Therefore, the researchers concluded, that moths seems to actively choose the spot that makes them invisible to predators. How do they know how to become invisible? The research team is now trying to answer this question as the next step.

    • To determine whether this final spot indeed made the moth really invisible, the researchers photographed each moth at its landing spot (initial spot) and at the final spot at which the moth decided to rest. Next, the researchers asked people to try to locate the moth from the photograph as quickly as possible. People had more difficulty finding the moths at their final spots than the same moths at their initial landing spots. Amazingly, this was even true for the species (Hypomecis roboraria) that only changed its resting spot on the tree bark without changing its body orientation. Therefore, the researchers concluded, that moths seems to actively choose the spot that makes them invisible to predators. How do they know how to become invisible? The research team is now trying to answer this question as the next step.



    The only mentions of evolution in the article concerned (1) the researchers calling themselves “evolutionary biologists,” (2) the fact that they work at the Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution at the Seoul National University, and (3) their research being published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology.  The abstract of that paper seemed very cautious about inferring evolution, stating: “Our study demonstrates that the evolution of morphological adaptations, such as colour pattern of moths, cannot be fully understood without taking into account behavioural phenotype that coevolved with the morphology for increasing the adaptive value of the morphological trait.”  While this suggests the authors are proposing coevolution of behavior with camouflage, the statement is a backhanded swipe at earlier evolutionary research that neglected behavior.

    • The only mentions of evolution in the article concerned (1) the researchers calling themselves “evolutionary biologists,” (2) the fact that they work at the Laboratory of Behavioral Ecology and Evolution at the Seoul National University, and (3) their research being published in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology.  The abstract of that paper seemed very cautious about inferring evolution, stating: “Our study demonstrates that the evolution of morphological adaptations, such as colour pattern of moths, cannot be fully understood without taking into account behavioural phenotype that coevolved with the morphology for increasing the adaptive value of the morphological trait.”  While this suggests the authors are proposing coevolution of behavior with camouflage, the statement is a backhanded swipe at earlier evolutionary research that neglected behavior.



    Speaking of moths, Live Science posted an interesting list of “7 Things You Don’t Know About Moths, But Should.”  These include their importance as pollinators, their role in the food chain for many other animals, and the males’ ability to smell females from seven miles away.  If we could get over the yuck factor, we might even find their caterpillars a nutritious superfood, meeting the minimum daily requirements of several important nutrients.  Moths are a sister family to butterflies in the Order Lepidoptera, and share many of the same characteristics.

    • Speaking of moths, Live Science posted an interesting list of “7 Things You Don’t Know About Moths, But Should.”  These include their importance as pollinators, their role in the food chain for many other animals, and the males’ ability to smell females from seven miles away.  If we could get over the yuck factor, we might even find their caterpillars a nutritious superfood, meeting the minimum daily requirements of several important nutrients.  Moths are a sister family to butterflies in the Order Lepidoptera, and share many of the same characteristics.



    This story underscores the uselessness of evolutionary theory.  For decades, evolutionary biologists have strained at moths and swallowed camels.  They watched the simple things, like how closely a moth’s wings match tree bark, but ignored the weightier matters of moth complexity.  Those little flying things circling the lights in your backyard are astoundingly complex machines: they have compound eyes with hundreds of facets, jointed appendages, digestive systems, reproductive systems, navigation systems, communication systems, flight systems – all packed within their tiny, lightweight bodies.

    • This story underscores the uselessness of evolutionary theory.  For decades, evolutionary biologists have strained at moths and swallowed camels.  They watched the simple things, like how closely a moth’s wings match tree bark, but ignored the weightier matters of moth complexity.  Those little flying things circling the lights in your backyard are astoundingly complex machines: they have compound eyes with hundreds of facets, jointed appendages, digestive systems, reproductive systems, navigation systems, communication systems, flight systems – all packed within their tiny, lightweight bodies.



    Even tougher on evolutionary theory, they undergo metamorphosis – a complete transformation of body plan three times in their lifecycle: egg to caterpillar, then caterpillar to pupa or chrysalis, then chrysalis to adult flying insect.  This is shown exquisitely in Illustra’s beautiful film Metamorphosis, which ends with sound reasons why Darwinism cannot explain these abilities.

    • Even tougher on evolutionary theory, they undergo metamorphosis – a complete transformation of body plan three times in their lifecycle: egg to caterpillar, then caterpillar to pupa or chrysalis, then chrysalis to adult flying insect.  This is shown exquisitely in Illustra’s beautiful film Metamorphosis, which ends with sound reasons why Darwinism cannot explain these abilities.



    Yet for decades, evolutionists were obsessed with finding an example of natural selection in one species of moth, whether it landed on light or dark tree trunks.  And now we are told by the South Korean researchers that “evolution of morphological adaptations, such as colour pattern of moths, cannot be fully understood without taking into account a behavioural phenotype” – in other words, you cannot just play “Pin the Peppered Moth on the Tree Trunk.”  You have to watch what a living peppered moth does after it lands.  If Kettlewell had simply kept his grubby evolutionary hands off the moths, he might have found dark moths walking on a light-barked tree trunk looking for a better place to blend in, and vice versa.  More likely, the moths would be too smart to land on a high-contrast surface in the first place.

    • Yet for decades, evolutionists were obsessed with finding an example of natural selection in one species of moth, whether it landed on light or dark tree trunks.  And now we are told by the South Korean researchers that “evolution of morphological adaptations, such as colour pattern of moths, cannot be fully understood without taking into account a behavioural phenotype” – in other words, you cannot just play “Pin the Peppered Moth on the Tree Trunk.”  You have to watch what a living peppered moth does after it lands.  If Kettlewell had simply kept his grubby evolutionary hands off the moths, he might have found dark moths walking on a light-barked tree trunk looking for a better place to blend in, and vice versa.  More likely, the moths would be too smart to land on a high-contrast surface in the first place.



    Trying to invoke “coevolution” as a magic word is folly.  It means that evolutionists have to invoke a second miracle: first, the match between wing coloration and tree trunks, and second, the ability of the moth to actively search out and select a suitable spot for camouflage.  What causes that behavior?  The researchers have no idea.  As usual, they use the futureware escape trick: “more research is needed.”  The article said they are clueless: “How do they know how to become invisible?  The research team is now trying to answer this question as the next step.” Save a step: ask a creationist.

    • Trying to invoke “coevolution” as a magic word is folly.  It means that evolutionists have to invoke a second miracle: first, the match between wing coloration and tree trunks, and second, the ability of the moth to actively search out and select a suitable spot for camouflage.  What causes that behavior?  The researchers have no idea.  As usual, they use the futureware escape trick: “more research is needed.”  The article said they are clueless: “How do they know how to become invisible?  The research team is now trying to answer this question as the next step.” Save a step: ask a creationist.




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