" We are skeptical of claims for the ability of random mutation and natural selection to account for the complexity of life. Careful examination of the evidence for Darwinian theory should be encouraged." - Dissent from Darwin

Natural selection [is used] carelessly as a mantra, as in the evidence-free “just-so stories” concocted out of thin air by mentally lazy adaptationists. (Stephen Jay Gould)

In the absence of any other proof, the thumb alone would convince me of God's existence. (Isaac newton)

Sunday, May 27, 2007

How SCARAB got his Armour

These animals have intense mating competitions in which the males guard their mates to prevent them from breeding with competitors, and they have evolved extravagant weapons for use in battles between males. They have long horns that they use for blocking tunnels to underground dens and for wrestling with competitors, and different species have followed different strategies. Some have a horn at the front of the head and look rhinocerous-like; others sprout a pair of horns, like those of a triceratops, at the back of the head; still others have a long protuberance from their thorax that can make up as much of 40 percent of their body length.

The competition between developing weapons and testes is the most obvious aspect of the evolution of these beetles, but the quieter underlying competition between reliability/canalization and flexibility/plasticity may well be the more significant force in evolution: It constrains the range of morphology that is possible in development.

Storyteller: PZ Myers, professor at the University of Minnesota

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