evolution

Study Pretty Much Irrefutably Shows Cats are Dumber than Dogs(!)

Having long suspected it, I was heartened to hear that cats are less intelligent than dogs are. Yes. Ahhh. Bask in it. Far less, actually, at least in relation to the correlation between brain size and sociability. This small brain size is, it appears, why cats are aloof, say researchers at Oxford University's Institute of Cognitive and Evolutionary Anthropology, a group who are not known to be slouches when it comes to compiling reliable and solid data that dog people can reasonably gloat over.

Thanks a bunch to Mr. Rob Sheppe for sending along a link to a recent article in New Scientist about a prediction that in the future women will be shorter, plumper and have better tickers than they do now. The prediction was made by a Yale evolutionary biologist named Stephen Stearns, who looked at medical histories from what is arguably the most intensive and sweeping study every carried out in the history of the whole wide world, the Framingham Heart Study. Back in 1948, a very clever person named Dr. Thomas Dawber thought it might be a good idea to begin a study that followed the residents of a single town in Massachusetts called Framingham. The extensive longitudinal study has been ongoing since then and it's yielded a wealth of information about things like cardiovascular disease, smoking habits, dementia, hearing disorders and, now, a snapshot of evolution at work.

Smithsonian Museum Believes in Evolution!

Yesterday the Smithsonian Museum in Washington DC revealed that they're set to open a wing dedicated to covering about six million years of human evolution. It'll be called the "Hall of Origins" -- a title that is sure to ruffle the feathers of the creationists of the world. The whole thing drops next March 17th, coinciding with the 100th anniversary of the revered museum.

You know how sometimes extrausual concepts that don't really fit with your worldview often have a way of popping back up again and again until you finally stop and pay attention? (Laughing rats and the fact that I have a speech impediment are two recent examples for me.) Lately, the notion of transhumanism has been making random cameos and so I've chosen to investigate further. A couple years ago, I stumbled onto the site of a group called BLTC Research, and couldn't really make heads or tails of the mission statement on the home page, since it clearly wasn't intended for the uber novice. I got to the part that implicates genes as selfish and, by nature, ensure "pain and malaise are endemic to the living world."

How does isolation spur evolution? Check out this HowStuffWorks podcast to learn more about speciation and evolution.