Lamarck didn’t say it, Darwin did.

We have heard quite a lot in recent times about a resurgence of “Lamarckian” mechanisms, based largely on findings involving epigenetics. In this case, environmental differences cause changes in the patterns of expression of genes, and these alterations can sometimes be passed on through at least a few generations.

There are two reasons why […]


Darwin’s note on higher and lower.

Here is a page from Darwin’s 1837 notebook. (Click for larger image)

In case you can’t read his handwriting (few can), it says It is absurd to talk of one animal being higher than another. We consider those, when the cerebral structure / intellectual faculties most developed, as highest. A bee doubtless would when […]


Did Darwin delay?

In my evolution course, I note that "Darwin spent 20 years working out his ideas and gathering evidence" before releasing On the Origin of Species in 1859. I don't say he "delayed" publication purposely, though in many cases this long period from idea to outcome has been attributed to fear of the reaction from […]


Natural selection before Darwin.

Charles Darwin (1809-1882) opened his first notebook about "the species question" in 1837, not long after his return from the voyage of the Beagle. By 1838, he had developed the basic outline of his theory of natural selection to explain the evolution of species. He spent the next 20 years developing the theory […]


Epigenetics and Neo-(Neo-)Lamarckism.

A very brief comment on a complicated topic…

New Scientist has a story in the current issue about epigenetics — differences in gene expression that are not due to changes in the gene sequences themselves — and how non-genetic variation can be both influenced environmentally and, in some cases, inherited.

The New […]


Natural selection 1.0.

If you want to see the first draft of Darwin’s ideas on natural selection — in the form of a handwritten sketch from 1842 — then be sure to visit the Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online which now makes this material accessible online.

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Hiroshima.

The Skeptical Alchemist posted this video, which has some significance for me since I was in Hiroshima less than 2 weeks ago.

Say what you want about the need to end the war, the expected casualties during an invasion, or whatever other rationalizations you like. But consider this question, by Leó Szilárd: “Suppose […]


Two movies released today.

Two very different movies will be released today. The first is Expelled: No Intelligence Allowed. The other is Constantine’s Sword. I haven’t seen them so I won’t comment specifically on either (though I will point readers to Expelled Exposed again). But for your interest, here are the trailers.

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Remembrance Day.

In Canada, as in many countries around the world, November 11 is a day of remembrance for the sacrifices made during wartime. In Canada, this refers in particular to World War I (1914-1918) and World War II (1939-1945), but also to smaller engagements in which Canadians were (or are) involved, such as Korea and […]


Function, non-function, some function: a brief history of junk DNA.

It is commonly suggested by anti-evolutionists that recent discoveries of function in non-coding DNA support intelligent design and refute “Darwinism”. This misrepresents both the history and the science of this issue. I would like to provide some clarification of both aspects.

When people began estimating genome sizes (amounts of DNA per genome) in the […]