I’m currently at Evolution 2012 in Ottawa, having spoken at an education workshop on Friday. Various people at the meeting have told me that they’ve found my education papers very useful, so I thought I would put links to them all in one convenient location and then direct people there. So, here they are:
I see, with rather alarming frequency, a major fallacy creeping in to discussions of human evolutionary history and how one may infer details about it. Specifically, there is a tendency to examine the traits of one or a few non-human species and to draw conclusions about the origin of human traits purely from these [...]
Here is a video posted by the Centre For Inquiry Canada of a talk I gave in Toronto a few months ago. Larry Moran was my gracious host, and there were some good discussions over beer not captured on camera. :-)
Two students and I currently have a paper in review on genome sizes in sponges, but whether it is accepted or needs major revisions, we will have to update the reference list. This is because the genome sequence of the sponge Amphimedon queenslandica was just published. This is very cool, and allows some interesting [...]
Rich Miesel has a nice paper soon to appear in Evolution: Education and Outreach which further explores ways to help students grasp tree-thinking in evolutionary biology. It’s the latest in a series of papers on this topic in E:EO and other journals and covers misconceptions that can’t be clarified too often.
As I have explained in various blog posts and in this paper, it is a fallacy to assume that any one character found in a so-called “primitive” species alive today was also found in the ancestral species. All living species are modern species, and “primitive” vs. “derived” refers to characters, not whole species.
Jonathan Eisen has pointed out some rather significant misinterpretation of evolutionary relationships in a recent New York Times article. Of course, misconceptions about evolutionary trees, the evolution of complex organs, the mechanism of natural selection, and even the nature of the terms “fact” and “theory” are rampant.
Trichoplax adhaerens is a bizarre little animal with a decidedly simple morphology. (You can see some here). There has been some question as to the relationship between this critter and other animal groups, but mitochondrial sequences (Dellaporta et al. 2006) and, as of this week, a complete nuclear genome sequence (Srivastava et al. 2008), [...]