Wednesday, May 25, 2005

533: The Ultimate Spa: Embryonic Body Wash Controls Left-right Development

The Ultimate Spa: Embryonic Body Wash Controls Left-right Development:

In the current study, Belmonte's team compared the ventral node in embryos of mice, rabbits and fish, and discovered the same mechanism in all these animals: the rapid, clockwise rotation of the whip-like cilia was actively moving fluid from the right side to the left side of the developing embryo.

Another supposedly evolution free piece of research, which nonetheless demonstrates common descent, and relies on it. The research they're doing is based on fish embryos, but they care about human development. Why bother with the fish? COMMON DESCENT!

532: Unrestrained Retina Too Much Of A Good Thing

Unrestrained Retina Too Much Of A Good Thing:

"Normally Pax6 is turned off in the ventral optic stalk to allow the optic nerve to develop," said Kim. "It's an incredibly efficient way to control development because you don't need a completely new pathway for a new structure."

"Pax 6 is a powerful and ancient gene for eye determination," noted Lemke. "It plays this role from fruit flies to humans. As a consequence, its expression must be highly regulated during development." Although the retina is obviously required for sight, Lemke points out that "it's possible to have too much of a good thing."

An ID advocate thinks that this research has no relevance to evolution.

Common descent is huge here. And adapting an existing structure is what evolution does.

Sorry I've been away for a while, but cash and time are tight. If you value this resource, please contribute.

Friday, May 20, 2005

Small Change

I have mixed feelings about this, but I've put up a PayPal tipjar. If you want, drop a little money in there to support these Projects, or do the same thing at Thoughts from Kansas to support that work.

I'm sure there are groups or organizations (like the NRDC, KCFS, ACLU, Center for Constitutional Rights, Dover CARES, Dennis Moore's reelection campaign, or the DNC) that deserve money and could use it to change the world. I don't want to steal money from those groups.

But I find that I can't justify the amount of time on The Evolution Project that it really deserves. It brings no cash, it has relatively few readers, and while it has a substantial PR value, turning it into a useful popularization of science, and not just a catalog, would take far more time than I can afford to spend.

If you think it's a good idea, and want to see it maintained, please let me know. You don't have to contribute to it, but encouragement accompanied by cash will be given more weight.

Has TEP been useful? I know that I've been able to point to the number of posts and diversity of material up there in arguing against creationists. Has anyone else found value in it?

What can be done to make it better?

As for TfK, it's my playground; it won't go away no matter what. That said, I have some bigger investigative projects and other activism I'd like to undertake, and a little cash flow would really help me justify taking that time.

As always, you can support the Projects indirectly by buying things through the links at the side. If you search for something through the box, I'll get at least 5% of the value of what you buy.

Or click on one of the Google ads now and then.

Greenback Dollar” by Woody Guthrie from the album Library of Congress Recordings (2:22).

Thursday, May 19, 2005

New Monkey Species

New Monkey Species is First in Africa for 20 Years:

The highland mangabey could elude scientists for only so long.

This secretive monkey was recently found in the trees of Tanzania, becoming the first new species of monkey discovered in Africa in over 20 years. The find was announced today.

Its body is about three feet long and covered with shaggy brown hair, except for an off-white belly. The long coat comes in handy since the Highland mangabey lives at high elevations where the temperatures frequently drop below freezing.

Highland mangabeys (Lophocebus kipunji) have two distinguishing characteristics. They sport a mullet-like hair style – a long crest of hair on its forehead and long hair on the back and sides of its face. They also have an unusual call, described as a "honk-bark" by the discoverers.

Surprised scientists

The discovery itself is unique since the monkey was actually found by two different groups, each believing they were the first to spot the primate.

First was Tim Davenport’s team of biologists from the Wildlife Conservation Society, who first saw the monkey hiding on the sides of Mt. Rungwe, a 10,000 foot volcano in Kitulo National Park.

"This discovery proves that there is still so much to learn about the more remote and less well-known areas of Tanzania, and Africa as a whole," said Davenport, director of the WCS Southern Highlands Conservation Program.

The second spotting occurred more than 230 miles away and a few months later in the Ndundulu Forest Reserve in the Unzungwa Mountains. Carolyn Ehardt’s group from the University of Georgia was studying another species of mangabey monkey when they came across the new species.

Last October, the two groups became aware that they had made the same discovery, and joined forces to publish their findings in the journal Science, in the May 20 issue.

This is just good stuff. A new family of rodents, a new mangabey, what's next? This article is right that finding two populations simultaneously is fascinating.

This is a Golden Age for biology. The combination of DNA technology, Geographic Information Systems, better phylogenetic techniques, and better scientific methods, biology from the molecular level to the organismal level and on up to the biosphere are easier to explore, understand, and study rigorously. That's why it's so annoying that people get distracted by the evolution arguments. Evolution is what ties all of biology together.

It's the Grand Unified Theory of biology. We should be celebrating it, but we treat it like some sketchy, ill-fitting piece of speculation.