Daily Archives: February 9, 2009

Earliest Animals

A Much Earlier Start for Animals

Where did all the animals come from? … The problem with the earliest animals, from a paleontologist’s perspective, is that they lacked hard parts.

The answer lies in the unique molecules they left behind…. one such molecule [c]alled 24-IPC, … is only produced by Demospongiae, a class of animals that includes most modern sponges and is thought to constitute the roots of the animal family tree. The researchers acquired 30 pristine drill cores removed from underneath the southern Arabian Peninsula by the oil company Petroleum Development Oman. The cores ran through sedimentary layers and extended back beyond the Cambrian Explosion into the Cryogenian Period, about 635 million years ago near the end of a long, global ice age.

And what did they find? Read about it here.

Texas Teacher suspended for being “Liberal” and an “atheist”

For the past few days I have been in contact with Mr. Richard Mullens a school teacher in Brookeland Tx. Brookeland Tx, is an incredibly “Conservative” area of Texas, and only 16 miles up the road from Jasper Tx. the scene of several incidents of racial violence and murder. Mullens has been the victim of a smear campaign and a slew of unethical practices, based solely on his religious and political beliefs. I have received numerous calls today from area parents, and concerned local residents who feel that Mr. Mullens is a good teacher, who has encouraged and inspired his students to think critically, and independently and is innocent of all charges, both spoken and written. In fact the administration of Brookeland High School made attempts to urge students to sign a list of alleged chargers against Mr. Mullens of which over 100 students out of 103 refused to sign….

And so on and so forth. This is rather incredible. Have a look at the details here.

Crazy Baby Breeder Lady’s Mother Speaks Out

The mother of the woman who used a fertility doctor to give birth to octuplets, despite already having six young children, called her daughter’s actions “unconscionable” in an interview posted online Sunday.


I’m not sure my hypothesis of a race effect has been fully falsified, but the alternative hypotheses of edginess due to the economy and people thinking she is a nut bag are starting to feel stronger and have not yet been falsified.

Fires in Australia: Hundreds Dead

We shall now have a moment of silence from the Global Warming Denialists. (By the way, did you notice? No praying or exortations to a creator or savior during this report. That was nice.)

Bugs (Darwin)

When reading the Voyage, it is impossible to miss the observation that much of the time Darwin was engaged in adolescent boy behavior: Pulling the heads off insects, noting how long they would wiggle after cut in half, closely examining the ooze and guts, occupied much of his time. Obviously, careful observation and a strong stomach were not all that was required to think up Natural Selection and his other theories, or the Origin of Species would have been written dozens of times by dozens of grown up kids.
Continue reading Bugs (Darwin)

Fact vs. Theory

Genie Scott’s new edition of Evolution vs. Creationism is especially useful for people in the trenches in this so called ‘debate’ because Scott manages to touch on virtually every point of argument you will run into if you are, say, a life science teacher. For instance, the role of ‘theory’ vs. ‘fact’ and ‘hypothesis’ and so on is generally misunderstood by students and the general public … and this misunderstanding then exploited by the creationists. So, this issue is dealt with clearly. Have a look. The top list is how many people rank these terms in importance, and here Scott contrasts the popular view with what scientists would generally do.