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 ›

Evolution Education Survey Underreports Darwin-Doubting Teachers

A new paper in the journal Science reports results of a survey of how science teachers cover evolution. Titled “Defeating Creationism in the Courtroom, But Not in the Classroom,” the paper laments that more teachers aren’t pushing neo-Darwinian evolution in a dogmatic fashion, even attacking one teacher who dared to suggest, “Students should make up their own minds” on evolution. The survey forces teachers to fit into 1 of 3 categories: “Advocates of evolutionary biology,” “Advocates of creationism,” or “Advocate of neither.” According to the survey, 28% of teachers are “Advocates of evolutionary biology,” 13% are “Advocates of creationism,” and a full 60% are “Advocates of neither.” (These are the percentages reported in the survey–odd how they add up to Read More ›