Carnival of Evolution, February 2014 Edition

Wow, I haven’t posted anything in quite a while. Things are busy outside blogoland. But committing this blog to the February edition of the Carnival of Evolution just made me do it, so here goes. We’ll do this by scales, bottom up.


Prions are the infective agents that cause transmissible spongiform encephalopathies such as Mad Cow Disease in, well, cows, and Kuru or Kreuzfeldt-Jakob disease in humans.  Apparently prions are subject to natural selection — evolution — and as the Lab Rat reports, no DNA is required.


Fibril model of prion propagation. Source: wikipedia

Back to genomes, can some genomes evolve more slowly than others? Larry Moran tackles this question in Sandwalk.


The E. coli long-term evolution experiment is an ongoing study in experimental evolution led by Richard Lenski that has been tracking genetic changes in 12 initially identical populations of asexual Escherichia coli bacteria since 24 February 1988. What have we learned? A meta-post linking to other posts summarizes five important things you can learn by looking at over 50,000 generations of bacterial evolution. Larry Moran discusses the unpredictability of evolution and potentiation in Lenski’s long-term evolution experiment.



The 12 evolving E. coli populations on June 25, 2008 Source: Wikipedia


A new book is out, The Monkey’s Voyage by Alan de Queiroz, and it is reviewed by Richard Conniff. How Did Monkeys Cross the Atlantic? A Near-Miraculous Answer was posted at strange behaviors. Speaking of monkeys, or rather apes, a comparative examination fo the chimp and human genomes reveal that 154 human genes have undergone positive selection compared with 233 chimp genes, after our phylogenetic split. Surprisingly, these are not the genes you may expect to have been selected as such.

From primates to canines, one dog has managed to outlive all others in its species… or its genes have. How? Read Carl Zimmer’s fascinating story on How A Dog Has Lived For Eleven Thousand Years posted at The Loom. In contrast, one species which is no longer with us is the Beelzebufu frog, also known as the Frog from Hell. Yes, this one ate dinosaurs, some 75 million years ago. Yikes.

As climate change continues to affect our world, species migrate and/or change phenotypes to adapt.  Or do they? Ben Haller recommends that you read Andrew Hendry’s post in Eco-Evo Evo-Eco to find out more.

Jump to 4:09 to see the Frog from Hell.


How can you solve evolutionary problems with computers? A blog written by C. Titus Brown’s students explains evolutionary simulations and experiments in silico. While Bradly Alicea presents methods for Bet-hedging and Evolutionary Futures posted at Synthetic Daisies. A re-examination of Hamilton’s rule tells us why altruism is not only not rare as an evolutionary trait, it should probably be expected and quite frequent. Bjorn Ostman reports in Pleiotropy about Sewall Wright’s last paper on adaptive landscapes.



Bet-hedging as an investment strategy. Use a rowboat and a hang-glider.

While Titus’s students and others have been evolving things in computers, John Wilkins tackles the question whether life exists at all. No spoilers here, you will have to read it. You should probably also read Wilkins’s new book, on the Nature of Classification


That’s it! Thank you for being with us, a short post for a short month. Don’t forget to submit to the March carnival!



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3 Responses to “Carnival of Evolution, February 2014 Edition”

  1. […] While you wait, there are new posts about the upcoming debate from Red Letter Christians, John Shore, Pharyngula, and Why Evolution is True. See in particular Nick Matze’s ten commandments for debating creationists. For a sense of what’s at stake, see this map of public schools teaching creationism. And see too the latest Carnival of Evolution. […]

  2. […] Carnival of Evolution, February 2014 Edition […]

  3. […] Carnival of Evolution, February 2014 Edition […]