Diligent research by The Friends of Charles Darwin has uncovered this historic photo of Darwin and Wallace–TOGETHER.
“Last week, browsing the History of Science section in one of my favourite second-hand bookshops, I chanced upon a collection of Thomas Henry Huxley’s essays, Darwiniana. I picked it up to examine it, and this fell out…”
Darwiniana was actually authored by American Botanist Asa Gray, so there will have to be some further verification of this photograph before it is accepted as genuine. The provenance of this tin type seems somewhat suspicious. However, it does indeed appear to be the two co-discoverers of evolution by means of Natural Selection, Darwin and Wallace, standing side-by-side. How exciting!
BTW, if you’d like to read more about Alfred Russel Wallace, there’s a nice summary at the Berkeley Evolution Web.
A really nice example of how to communicate some fascinating evolutionary biology. Illinois Natural History Survey ornithologist Kevin Johnson describes his research on the history of feather lice. Anyone who works with birds knows they are lousy–as in, usually covered in lice.
But how did all those lice evolve? Did they share a common louse ancestor, and then diverge as their bird hosts diverged? Bird winglice from a parrot look a lot like bird wing lice on a duck–but those are very different and unrelated hosts. What does that tell us about the history of lice?
You can read the paper this work is based on here:
Johnson, K.P., Shreve, S.M. & Smith, V.S. (2012). Repeated adaptive divergence of microhabitat specialization in avian feather lice, BMC Biology, 10 (1) DOI: 10.1186/1741-7007-10-52
(Looking for a text transcript of the video; you can get most of the content text here)
Quite a few people, including PZ, have posted this video of a student completely loosing it in a classroom. From the school paper:
“Associate Professor Stephen M. Kajiura was reviewing with his evolution class in GS 120 for a midterm when FAU student Jonatha Carr interrupted him: “How does evolution kill black people?” she asked. Kajiura attempted to explain that evolution doesn’t kill anyone.…..The classmate reported that Kajiura was discussing attraction between peacocks when Carr raised her hand to ask her question about evolution. She asked it four times, and became increasingly upset each time Kajiura’s answer failed to satisfy her.
A video taken by Bustamante shows Carr ranting and threatening to kill the professor and several students.”
I’ve discussed violence before that is motivated by anti-evolution, both directed against me and others.
Honestly, I don’t think this outburst had that much to do with evolution, although it’s certainly scary that evolution seems to be the topic that triggered the student’s outburst. What I was struck by, watching that video as someone who’s been teaching for over 25 years, is the behavior of the instructor and the other students:
- They tried to engage in dialog with a person that is clearly in severe mental distress
- They did not clear the classroom
- It took way too long before anyone called 911
- The students were more interested in filming the student’s meltdown than getting to safety
That? Honestly? Bothers me far more than what the woman was yelling.
If there is anything that needs to be discussed and post-processed about this, it’s that the area was not secured, not that she was angry about evolution.
Do you teach?
Do you have a plan for what you would do in your class if something like this happened?
Have you thought about how you might get all your students to safety in case of an emergency?
Have you recieved training–or at least instructions–about what to do with a distressed student?
If someone is this out of control, your best bet is to GTFO. Get the distressed person in a quiet room, or make the room quiet by getting everyone else out. But don’t expect rational discourse to work.
If you are going to watch this video, do it with an eye to how you would have handled this situation as an instructor.
And learn from it.
When I first heard the title of this television show, my first thought was that it would involve a dancing E. O. Wilson in tights. Sadly, no.
Or, maybe that’s a good thing–you tell me. I think Dancing with the Stars could really use an evolutionary biologist to liven things up.
Either way, this is a neat profile of someone who’s been incredibly influential in biology for the last 50 years. I don’t agree with everything he’s written, since I tend to think more along the lines of Lewontin in terms of my issues with sociobiology. The idea of a “unified theory” of animal behavior is a snipe hunt. (There is also a nice biography of Wilson in the Atlantic this week, BTW, where he has some surprisingly harsh words for Stephen J. Gould over this topic.)
Wilson’s work on biodiversity, biogeography, ecology, and conservation is solid and important. He used his unexpected fame (infamy?) to really push forward conservation. He took his bully pulpit and did something with it.
Enjoy this long interview with Dr. Wilson. He IS the Lord of the Ants.
(I can also report that he’s charming in person, and I’m fairly sure he will find my photoshopping liberties amusing.)