Archive for May 8th, 2008

Keeping up with evolution discoveries

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

Scientists map the genetic makeup of the platypus

SYDNEY, Australia — With a bill like a duck, a tail like a beaver and snake-like venom hidden in heel spurs, the platypus could be the result of some strange genetic experiment.

And it is, scientists say: evolution.

A scientific team published the genetic makeup of the Australian animal in the scientific journal Nature on Thursday, confirming that its features – which straddle multiple animal classes – are reflected in its DNA.

The research could help explain how mammals, including humans, evolved from reptiles millions of years ago, they said.

A longer story in ScienceDaily and the paper in Nature (if you have a subscription).

Scientist “expelled” for giving speech about evolution … on Darwin Day?

Thursday, May 8th, 2008

I’m not sure why it took this long to see news on the subject. Maybe I just happened to miss it when it happened, or the folks responsible were good at keeping it under wraps. But, apparently, back in February a scientist was set to give a speech about evolution, a subject she is an expert in. The event was Darwin Day. Rather fitting to have a speech about evolution on that day, don’t you think? Pinellas County officials didn’t think so.

And since [University of South Florida professor Lorena] Madrigal’s [link] doctorate is in anthropology, in which she has developed an academic expertise in genetics and human evolution, what better speaker could the Friends of the Brooker Creek Preserve [link] hope for to deliver remarks on Darwin Day?

However, a week before she was to speak, Madrigal was given the bum’s rush by Pinellas County officials, who canceled her appearance.

“They told me very clearly they felt their budget was in danger if the lecture took place,” Madrigal said.

“Her topic was about evolution,” [William Davis, the Pinellas County director of environmental services] said. … “I flinched on that.”

“I canceled her out after discussing it with my supervisors,” he said. “We are not the platform for debate on creationism versus evolution.”

Even on Darwin Day?!?!?! Apparently not.

“We don’t believe it’s our role to engage in that debate,” Davis said.

It’s a Preserve. It’s a place devoted to nature and science and education. There is no debate, Mr. Davis.