Butterfly Mimicry: A “Huge” Problem for Evolutionary Biology

Can Darwinian evolution explain the complex coloration patterns found in insects that led to biomimicry? According to an article published late last year in BioScience, Darwinian evolution faces “problems” that are “huge” when trying to account for the origin of biomimicry in butterflies: The balance of Dazzled and Deceived focuses on the genetics and development of mimetic patterns, as revealed mostly through work with butterflies. The problems here are huge for evolutionary biologists. How does natural selection build a complex organism with all its integrated parts through fixation of random mutations? Butterfly mimicry has been a classic arena in which to tackle this problem precisely because the gambit is so obvious: To be a good mimic of another species requires Read More ›

Nature Publishes Paper Critical of Ardi’s Status as Human Evolutionary Ancestor

A new paper in the journal Nature, authored by paleoanthropologists Bernard Wood and Terry Harrison and titled “The evolutionary context of the first hominins,” is critical of the claim that Ardipithecus ramidus (“Ardi”) was a bipedal ancestor of modern humans. In 2009, the journal Science devoted an entire issue to introducing Ardi and promoting it as a likely human ancestor. It seems that Nature is in something of a rivalry with Science now that it has published this authoritative paper. When constructing phylogenetic trees, evolutionary biologists generally seek to minimize homoplasy, or instances of convergent evolution. Wood and Harrison observe that the problem for Ardi is that if she is on the human line, then there must be high levels Read More ›