EVOLUTION RESEARCH NEWS

News: April-December, 1997



Items are from the following non-specialist periodicals: American Scientist, National Geographic, Nature, Science, Science News, Scientific American, and some Washington Post. Items relating to the same story are grouped under a single bullet.


CONTENTS

December 1997
November 1997
October 1997
September 1997
August 1997
July 1997
June 1997
May 1997
April 1997

December 1997 [to top]


Abiogenesis, Exobiology, In Vitro Evolution, Artificial Life

  • Emergence of symbiosis in peptide self-replication through a hypercyclic network. Nature, December 11, 1997.

  • LIFE ON MARS: Putative Martian Microbes Called Microscopy Artifacts. Science, December 5, 1997.

    No 'nanofossils' in martian meteorite. Nature, December 4, 1997.

  • The Case for Relic Life on Mars: A meteorite found in Antarctica offers strong evidence that Mars has had-- and may still have--microbial life. Scientific American, December, 1997.

  • Organismal Evolution (Non-Human)

  • Immune Versus Natural Selection: Antibody Aldolases with Enzymic Rates But Broader Scope. Science, December 19, 1997.

  • Natural Variation in a Drosophila Clock Gene and Temperature Compensation. Science, December 19, 1997. Repeat length important in adaptive evolution.

  • Cladistic Analysis and Anthropoid Origins. Science, December 19, 1997. Results of phylogenetic analyses must be interpreted cautiously because of the effects of simplifying evolutionary assumptions, character and taxon sampling, and inherent limits and biases of the methodology, etc. (See also "Anthropoid Origins" from February 7, 1997 issue of Science).

  • DEVELOPMENTAL BIOLOGY: Possible New Roles for HOX Genes. Science, December 12, 1997.

  • Cosmopolitanism among Gondwanan Late Cretaceous mammals. Nature, December 4, 1997.

  • Uncovering Patagonia’s Lost World. National Geographic, December, 1997. Rethinking dinosaur evolution.

  • NO BONES ABOUT IT: T. rex Sue highlights the battle over private collecting on public land. Scientific American, December, 1997.

  • Human Evolution and History


    Other



    November 1997 [to top]


    Abiogenesis, Exobiology, In Vitro Evolution, Artificial Life

  • Dynamics of Granular Material. American Scientist, November-December, 1997. Predictable self-organization in granular materials.

  • C'est la Vie -- Searching for life in the solar system. Science News, November 1, 1997. 'The search for organic chemicals and life in the solar system is focusing on Saturn's largest moon, Jupiter's moon Europa, and Mars.'

  • Organismal Evolution (Non-Human)

  • Gene Creates Malaria Drug Resistance. Science News, November 29, 1997.

  • Island plants let down their defenses. Science News, November 29, 1997. 'Plants on Santa Cruz Island off California have significantly fewer defenses against animal grazers than do their mainland counterparts.'

  • Unravelling gene interactions. Nature, November 27, 1997. A study with bacteria fails to support a major theory for the origin of sex.

    Test of synergistic interactions among deleterious mutations in bacteria. Nature, November 27, 1997.

  • The complete genome sequence of the hyperthermophilic, sulphate-reducing archaeon Archaeoglobus fulgidus. Nature, November 27, 1997.

  • Late Pliocene Faunal Turnover in the Turkana Basin, Kenya and Ethiopia. Science, November 28, 1997.

  • EVOLUTION: Sex Frees Viruses From Genetic 'Ratchet'. Science, November 28, 1997. A study with viruses supports a major theory for the origin of sex.

  • EVOLUTION: Viruses Scout Evolution's Path. Science, November 28, 1997.

  • Fungal foray. Nature, November 13, 1997. Fungal evolution.

  • Panspermia, spores and the Bacillus subtilis genome. Nature, November 20, 1997.

    The complete genome sequence of the Gram-positive bacterium Bacillus subtilis. Nature, November 20, 1997.

  • More mutations in males. Nature, November 20, 1997.

  • PALEONTOLOGY: Will Fossil From Down Under Upend Mammal Evolution?. Science, November 21, 1997.

    A Tribosphenic Mammal from the Mesozoic of Australia. Science, November 21, 1997.

  • EVOLUTION: Life's Winners Keep Their Poise in Tough Times. Science, November 21, 1997.

  • Sec-Independent Protein Translocation by the Maize Hcf106 Protein. Science, November 21, 1997. A third protein translocation pathway found in both plants and bacteria.

  • Namibian fossils reveal ancient oddities. Science News, November 22, 1997. 'An organism shaped like a miniature revolving door raises questions about life a half-billion years ago.'

  • A new symmetrodont mammal from China and its implications for mammalian evolution. Y Hu, Y Wang, Z Luo & C Li. Nature, November 13, 1997.

  • Lung Structure and Ventilation in Theropod Dinosaurs and Early Birds. John A. Ruben, Terry D. Jones, Nicholas R. Geist, W. Jaap Hillenius . Science, November 14, 1997. Inferred lung structure suggests that theropod dinosaurs and Archaeopteryx were ectotherms, and casts some doubt on a dinosaur-bird link.

    PALEONTOLOGY: Lung Fossils Suggest Dinos Breathed in Cold Blood. Ann Gibbons. Science, November 14, 1997.

    Biologists peck at bird-dinosaur link. Science News, November 15, 1997.

  • PALEONTOLOGY: Plucking the Feathered Dinosaur . Ann Gibbons. Science, November 14, 1997. The Chinese dinosaur fossil did not have feathers after all.

  • Caribbean blasts sparked global warmth. Science News, November 15, 1997. 'Massive eruptions 55 million years ago may have warmed Earth.'

  • Fossil embryos reveal early animals. Science News, November 15, 1997. 'Paleontologists have found the oldest known embryos.'

  • Probabilities of conspecificity. J F Thackeray. Nature, November 6, 1997.

  • Xenoturbella's molluscan relatives . . . M Norén & U Jondelius. Nature, November 6, 1997.

  • High levels of genetic change in rodents of Chernobyl (Retraction). R J Barker, R A Van Den Bussche, A J Wright, L E Wiggins, M J Hamilton, E P Reat, M H Smith, M D Lomakin & R K Chesser. Nature, November 6, 1997. A previous report of unusually high mutation rates in Chernobyl voles was erroneous, and resulted largely from human error in scoring, aligning, and recording DNA sequences.

  • The search for the oldest animals. Science News, November 1, 1997. 'Grooves, probably made by worms, in a rock 1.1 billion years old could significantly push back the record of animal life.'

  • How much air could a dinosaur breathe? Science News, November 1, 1997. 'Tyrannosaurus rex had greater endurance than more ancient dinosaurs.'

  • Natural selection and evolution’s smoking gun. Keith Stewart Thomson. American Scientist, November-December, 1997.

  • Human Evolution and History

  • Cave finds make point about early humans. Science News, November 29, 1997. 'A new report describes South African bone tools that may reflect complex technological advances more than 40,000 years ago.'

  • Ecce Homo -- behold mankind. Nature, November 13, 1997.Alu sequences, microsatellites, and human history.

  • Site of Einkorn Wheat Domestication Identified by DNA Fingerprinting. Science, November 14, 1997. Phylogenetic analysis of AFLP marker data points to southeast Turkey as site of ancient wheat domestication.

    Wheat's DNA points to first farms. Science News, November 15, 1997.

  • Other



    October 1997 [to top]


    Abiogenesis, Exobiology, In Vitro Evolution, Artificial Life

  • An alphabet for a letter-perfect protein. C. Wu. Science News (October 4, 1997).

    A set of five amino acids is sufficient for much of a proteins shape. Implications for theories of early protein evolution discussed.

  • Magnetic Objects Detected Within the Crust of Mars; Orbiter Also Finds Vast Plain That May Have Been Sea Floor. Kathy Sawyer. Washington Post (October 3, 1997).

    Observations by the Mars Global Surveyor suggest that ancient Mars may have been more conducive to the existence of life than previously thought.

  • Organismal Evolution (Non-Human)

  • Extraordinary lifespans in ants: a test of evolutionary theories of ageing. L Keller & M Genoud. Nature, October 30, 1997.

    Be social, live longer . Ross H. Crozier . Nature, October 30, 1997.

  • PALEONTOLOGY: Teeth and Bones Tell Their Stories at Chicago Meeting. Anne Simon Moffat. Science, October 31, 1997.

  • Bacteria Diversify Through Warfare. Virginia Morell. Science (October 24, 1997).

    Evidence that chemical warfare among bacterial lineages may have led to evolutionary diversification.

  • Antibiotic Resistance: Road of No Return. Virginia Morell. Science (October 24, 1997).

    Once bacteria evolve antibiotic resistence, further mutations may delay reversion to sensitivity until long after selection is relaxed.

  • Does Evolutionary History Take Million-Year Breaks?. Richard A. Kerr. Science (October 24, 1997).

    To some paleontologists, the fossil record suggests that evolution effectively ceases for millions of years in entire communities. Others question what causes apparent surges in evolutionary rates.

    When Evolution Surges Ahead. Richard A. Kerr. Science (October 24, 1997).

  • The Evolution of Genomics. Denis Duboule. Science (October 24, 1997).

    New DNA sequence data facilitate the study of evolution of genes and genomes.

    Gene Families: The Taxonomy of Protein Paralogs and Chimeras. Steven Henikoff, Elizabeth A. Greene, Shmuel Pietrokovski, Peer Bork, Teresa K. Attwood, Leroy Hood. Science (October 24, 1997).

    GENOME MAPS 8: Building Gene Families. Science (October 24, 1997).

    A Genomic Perspective on Protein Families. Roman L. Tatusov, Eugene V. Koonin, David J. Lipman. Science (October 24, 1997).

    Functional Coherence of the Human Y Chromosome. Bruce T. Lahn, David C. Page. Science (October 24, 1997).

    NRC OKs Long-Delayed Survey of Human Genome Diversity . Elizabeth Pennisi. Science (October 24, 1997).

    Sequencing the Human Genome. Lee Rowen, Gregory Mahairas, Leroy Hood. Science (October 24, 1997).

  • Speciation in the open ocean. M Miya & M Nishida. Nature (October 23, 1997).

  • The Forward March of the Bird-Dinosaurs Halted?. Richard Hinchliffe. Science (October 24, 1997).

    The evolutionary origin of birds is still controversial.

    Developmental Patterns and the Identification of Homologies in the Avian Hand. Ann C. Burke, Alan Feduccia. Science (October 24, 1997).

  • Mass Extinction and Evolution. Norman Myers. Science (October 24, 1997).

    Estimation of the effects of a mass extinction on evolution.

    Extinction and the Loss of Evolutionary History. Sean Nee, Robert M. May. Science (October 24, 1997).

  • Radical alterations in the roles of homeobox genes during echinoderm evolution. C J Lowe & G A Wray . Nature (October 16, 1997).

    Regulatory genes previously assumed to have highly conserved functions are found to function quite differently in echinoderms.

    Insights from the echinoderms. Eric H. Davidson. Nature (October 16, 1997).

  • Biodiversity in a Vial of Sugar Water. Virginia Morell. Science (October 17, 1997).

    Adaptive radiations can be produced with microbes in laboratory experiments.

  • Natural Selection's Capricious Ways. Virginia Morell. Science (October 17, 1997).

    A ten year experiment demonstrates that different evolutionary paths can be taken in adapting to the same environment.

  • A letter to the editor by William E. Bemis and Andrew M. Simons. Science (October 17, 1997).

    These scientists dispute the claim that the closest living relative of tetrapods has been determined.

  • When North American birds diverged. Science News (October 18, 1997).

    Recent DNA studies stir debate over when many North American bird species originated.

  • Ancient Ape Shuffles to Prominence. B. Bower. Science News (October 18, 1997).

    Not only ancient hominids, but other apes as well, walked upright.

  • Fitness loss and germline mutations in barn swallows breeding in Chernobyl. H Ellegren, G Lindgren, C R Primmer & A P Møller. Nature (October 9, 1997).

    A higher germline mutation rate is found for birds near Chernobyl.

  • Archaeopteryx-like skull in Enantiornithine bird. L D Martin & Z Zhou. Nature (October 9, 1997).

  • Fossil Hunters Seek Ways to Bring Their Field Alive. Richard Stone. Science (October 10, 1997).

    Paleontologists meeting in Germany discussed problems facing their field.

  • Doubts Over Spectacular Dates. Ann Gibbons. Science (October 10, 1997).

    Unexpected results leave many researchers sceptical of luminescence dating.

  • How the Malaria Parasite Manipulates Its Hosts. Virginia Morell. Science (October 10, 1997).

    New data contradict the 'long-standing belief that malaria doesn't harm its mosquito hosts'.

  • Utah Fossil Trove Brings Elusive Era to Light. Curt Suplee. Washington Post (October 14, 1997).

    Fossils from central Utah illuminate a 70 million year gap in dinosaur history. Reported in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

  • A Velociraptor wishbone. M A Norell, P Makovicky & J M Clark. Nature (October 2, 1997).

    Discovery of velociraptor wishbone supports a close relationship of these dinosaurs and birds.

  • Epipubic bones in eutherian mammals from the Late Cretaceous of Mongolia. M J Novacek, G W Rougier, J R Wible, M C McKenna, D Dashzeveg & I Horovitz. Nature (October 2, 1997).

    Eighty million year old eutherian (placental) fossils from the Gobi Desert have marsupial-like epipubis.

    Pelvic problems for mammals. Robert Presley. Nature (October 2, 1997).

  • The origin of the dog-like borhyaenoid marsupials of South America. C de Muizon, R L Cifelli & R C Paz. Nature (October 2, 1997).

    Newly discovered fossils provide clues of phylogenetic relationships of dog-like marsupials.

  • Males Mutate More, Bird Study Shows. Steven Dickman. Science (October 3, 1997).

    Evidence supporting an old theory that most new mutations come from fathers.

  • Psychoactive Drug Use in Evolutionary Perspective. Randolph M. Nesse, Kent C. Berridge. Science (October 3, 1997).

    An evolutionary explanation for effects and abuse of psychoactive drugs.

  • Human Evolution and History

  • HUMAN EVOLUTION:Y chromosome Shows That Adam Was an African. Ann Gibbons. Science, October 31, 1997.

  • HUMAN EVOLUTION: The Women's Movement. Ann Gibbons. Science, October 31, 1997.

  • ANTHROPOLOGY: All-Star Cast for New Max Planck Institute. Patricia Kahn. Science, October 31, 1997.

  • Man and His Dog. N. E. Federoff, R. M. Nowak; J. P. Scott, O. S. Elliot, B. E. Ginsburg; C., Vilà J. Maldonado, I. R. Amorim, R. K. Wayne, K. A. Crandall, R. L. Honeycutt. Science (October 10, 1997).

    Controversy over recent 'molecular clock' dates of origin of domestic dog.

  • The first skull of Australopithecus boisei. G Suwa, B Asfaw, Y Beyene, T D White, S Katoh, S Nagaoka, H Nakaya, K Uzawa, P Renne & G WoldeGabriel. Nature (October 2, 1997).

    A fossil of Australopithecus boisei extends the geographic range of the species, suggests that the species was more variable morphologically than previously believed, and suggests coexistence with Homo erectus.

    One skull does not a species make. Eric Delson. Nature (October 2, 1997).

  • The Most Ancient Americans. National Geographic (October 1997).

    Ancient American sites appear to be too old for the conventional Bering Strait theory of human migration to America.

  • Other

  • Evolution for the Masses. Richard D. Altick. Washington Post (October 19, 1997).

    Review of 'From Devil's Disciple to Evolution's High Priest' by Adrian Desmond, a biography of Thomas Henry Huxley, the leading advocate for Darwinism in Darwin's day.

  • What are they thinking? -- Students' reasons for rejecting evolution go beyond the Bible. Rebecca Zacks. Scientific American (October 1997).

    Religious belief does not explain why 45% of college freshmen reject 'evolution'. Focused education proposed as the solution.


  • September 1997 [to top]


    Abiogenesis, Exobiology, In Vitro Evolution, Artificial Life

  • Computer Design Meets Darwin. Gary Taubes. Science (September 26, 1997).

    Researchers are hopeful of creating computers that reproduce and evolve by Darwinian selection.

    After 50 Years, Self-Replicating Silicon. Gary Taubes. Science (September 26, 1997).

  • New Visitor From Earth Poised for Mars Orbit: Spacecraft Seeks Life Signs, Landing Spots. Kathy Sawyer. The Washington Post (September 11, 1997).

    Another spacecraft searches for life on Mars.

  • Organismal Evolution (Non-Human)

  • Reptile relationships turn turtle. . . . M S Y Lee. Nature (September 18, 1997).

    . . . and turn back again. J E Platz & J M Conlon. Nature (September 18, 1997).

  • The Importance of Recent Ice Ages in Speciation: A Failed Paradigm. John Klicka, Robert M. Zink. Science (September 12, 1997).

    Evidence from mitochondrial DNA of North American bird sister species casts doubt on conventional allopatric speciation model.

    Tempo and Mode of Speciation. Michael L. Rosenzweig. Science (September 12, 1997).

  • Fossilized Metazoan Embryos from the Earliest Cambrian. Stefan Bengtson, Yue Zhao. Science (September 12, 1997).

    Fossils of developing embryos found in Siberia and China.

  • 'Killer' Impacts and Life's Origins. H. Tiedemann. Science (September 12, 1997).

  • Searching for Living Relics of the Cell's Early Days. Gretchen Vogel. Science (September 12, 1997).

    New evidence prompts a rethinking of early eukaryotic evolution.

  • Birds Do It, Bees Do It, but Some Snakes May Not Need To. Rick Weiss. The Washington Post (September 15, 1997).

    Asexual reproduction confirmed in snakes, may be an evolutionary adaptation.

  • 'Living Fossil' Fish Is Dethroned. Wade Roush. Science (September 5, 1997).

    The coelecanth is not supported as the nearest living relative of quadrupeds in recent DNA studies.

  • Haeckel's Embryos: Fraud Rediscovered. Elizabeth Pennisi. Science (September 5, 1997).

    Famous drawings supporting the theory that 'ontogeny recapitulates phylogeny' were falsified.

  • Microbial Genomes Come Tumbling In. Elizabeth Pennisi. Science (September 5, 1997).

    Recently completed genome sequences of yeast and several bacteria are now available for evolutionary studies.

    The Complete Genome Sequence of Escherichia coli K-12. Frederick R. Blattner, Guy Plunkett III, Craig A. Bloch, Nicole T. Perna, Valerie Burland, Monica Riley, Julio Collado-Vides, Jeremy D. Glasner, Christopher K. Rode, George F. Mayhew, Jason Gregor, Nelson Wayne Davis, Heather A. Kirkpatrick, Michael A. Goeden, Debra J. Rose, Bob Mau, Ying Shao. Science (September 5, 1997).

    Elizabeth Pennisi. Science (September 5, 1997).

  • The origin and early evolution of plants on land . P Kenrick & P R Crane. Nature (September 4, 1997).

    A review of recent progress in understanding the evolution of early land plants.

  • Evolution Evolving: New findings suggest mutation is more complicated than anyone thought. Tim Beardsley. Scientific American (September 1997).

    Mutations may come in bursts, as a response to stressful environments.

  • Human Evolution and History

  • A Mound Complex in Louisiana at 5400-5000 Years Before the Present. Joe W. Saunders, Rolfe D. Mandel, Roger T. Saucier, E. Thurman Allen, C. T. Hallmark, Jay K. Johnson, Edwin H. Jackson, Charles M. Allen, Gary L. Stringer, Douglas S. Frink, James K. Feathers, Stephen Williams, Kristen J. Gremillion, Malcolm F. Vidrine, Reca Jones. Science (September 19, 1997).

    This pushes back the date of this type of structure in North America by nearly 2000 years.

    Oldest Mound Complex Found at Louisiana Site. Heather Pringle. Science (September 19, 1997).

  • Neanderthal Notes: Did ancient humans play modern scales?. Kate Wong. Scientific American (September 1997).

    A 43,000+ year-old flute suggests that the Neanderthals may have used a modern musical scale.

  • The Dawn of Humans: Tracking the First of Our Kind. National Geographic (September 1997).

    Human footprints in southern Africa date to 117,000 years old.

  • Other



    August 1997 [to top]


    Abiogenesis, Exobiology, In Vitro Evolution, Artificial Life

  • Primordial Soup Researchers Gather at Watering Hole. Ricki Lewis. Science (August 22, 1997).

    Report on a symposium dealing with the origin of the first life on Earth.

  • Organismal Evolution (Non-Human)

  • The Late Precambrian fossil Kimberella is a mollusc-like bilaterian organism . M A Fedonkin & B M Waggoner. Nature (August 28, 1997).

    Newly discovered fossils provoke a radical reinterpretation of one of the first multicellular life forms.

    Ancient Animal Sheds False Identity. R. Monastersky . Science News (August 30, 1997).

  • Self-similarity of extinction statistics in the fossil record. R V Solé, S C Manrubia, M Benton & P Bak. Nature (August 21, 1997).

    A possible explanation for the pattern of mass extinctions in the fossil record.

  • A Fowl Fight: Fossil finds recharge debate about birds and dinosaurs. Science News (August 23, 1997).

    A long-standing argument about the evolution of birds heats up with new discoveries of ancient dinosaurs and birds.’

  • Fossils, genes and the evolution of animal limbs . N Shubin, C Tabin & S Carroll. Nature (August 14, 1997).

    The genetic regulatory systems underlying appendages in vertebrates and arthropods are unexpectedly similar.

  • Conspecific sperm precedence in Drosophila. C S C Price. Nature (August 14, 1997).

    Sperm competition may contribute to reproductive isolation in Drosophila.

  • Molecular evidence from retroposons that whales form a clade within even-toed ungulates. M Shimamura, H Yasue, K Ohshima, H Abe, H Kato, T Kishiro, M Goto, I Munechika & N Okada. Nature (August 14, 1997).

    Retrotransposons link whales to hippos and ruminants.

  • Crustacean appendage evolution associated with changes in Hox gene expression. M Averof & N H Patel . Nature (August 14, 1997).

    Evidence that changes in gene regulation can play a major role in mophological evolution.

  • Telomerase Catalytic Subunit Homologs from Fission Yeast and Human. Toru M. Nakamura, Gregg B. Morin, Karen B. Chapman, Scott L. Weinrich, William H. Andrews, Joachim Lingner, Calvin B. Harley, Thomas R. Cech. Science (August 15, 1997).

    Sequence comparisons place telomerase in the reverse transcriptase family.

    Telomerase and Retrotransposons: Which Came First? Thomas H. Eickbush. Science (August 15, 1997).

  • Orbitally paced climate oscillations across the Oligocene/Miocene boundary. J C Zachos, B P Flower & H Paul. Nature (August 7, 1997).

    Apparent influence of Earth's orbit on climate and glaciation in the late Oligocene and early Miocene periods.

  • Structural biology and phylogenetic estimation (Scientific Correspondence). G J P Naylor & W M Brown. Nature (August 7, 1997).

  • Finds undermine dating of early land life. Science News (August 9, 1997).

    'A discovery in Greenland may rewrite the history of vertebrates' earliest ventures from the water onto land.'

  • Craters and extinctions: Time of reckoning. Science News (August 2, 1997).

    'A buried crater discovered last year in South Africa may explain extinctions at the end of the Jurassic period.'

  • A Developmental Biology Summit in the High Country. Wade Roush. Science (August 1, 1997).

    New molecular genetic evidence 'indicates that diverse body segments of insects did not evolve as a result of Hox gene duplication as previously thought.'

  • Possible Glimpse of Earth-like Geology In Mars Rock. Richard A. Kerr. Science (August 1, 1997).

    Data from Pathfinder's rover, Sojourner, suggests that Mars' geology may have been more similar to that of Earth than previously thought.

  • Early Flowering Tree Rediscovered. C. Mlot. Science News (August 2, 1997).

    A 'living fossil' may help decipher the mysterious origin of flowering plants.

  • Human Evolution and History

  • Ice Age Communities May Be Earliest Known Net Hunters. Heather Pringle. Science (August 29, 1997).

    New discoveries indicate that the use of nets in hunting began over 22,000 years ago.

  • Size Variation in Middle Pleistocene Humans. J. L. Arsuaga, J. M. Carretero, C. Lorenzo, A. Gracia, I. Martínez, J. M. Bermúdez de Castro, E. Carbonell. Science (August 22, 1997).

    Middle Pleistocene humans did not have greater sexual dimorphism than modern humans.

  • Neandertal Genetics (Letter to the Editor). A. Cooper, H. N. Poinar, S. Pääbo, J. Radovi, A. Debénath, M., Caparros, C. Barroso-Ruiz, J. Bertranpetit, C. Nielsen-Marsh, R. E. Hedges, B. Sykes; G. A. Clark. Science (August 22, 1997).

  • Ancient human saunters into limelight. Science News (August 23, 1997).

    ‘Fossilized footprints on the shore of a South African lagoon were left about 117,000 years ago by an anatomically modern human.’.

  • The Ties That Bond: Adult romantic and sexual styles may grow out of parent-child affiliations. Bruce Bower. Science News (August 9, 1997).

    Competing evolutionary explanations of sexual relationship 'styles'.

  • New Respect for Metal's Role in Ancient Arctic Cultures. Heather Pringle. Science (August 8, 1997).

    Metal artifacts are 'giving new insight into the complexity of ancient Arctic society.'

  • Archaeologists Rediscover Cannibals. Ann Gibbons. Science (August 1, 1997).

    Accumulating evidence of cannibalism in human history.

  • Other

  • Of Genes and Meaninglessness. Gregg Easterbrook. Science (August 15, 1997).

    Evolutionist Richard Dawkins claims that Darwinism makes Theism obsolete.

    Science and God: A Warming Trend?. Gregg Easterbrook. Science (August 15, 1997).

    Of Lasers and Prayer. Gregg Easterbrook. Science (August 15, 1997).


  • July 1997 [to top]


    Abiogenesis, Exobiology, In Vitro Evolution, Artificial Life

  • A Beautiful Illusion. Joel Achenbach. Washington Post (July 13, 1997).

    Exobiology, the search for extraterrestrial life.

  • Organismal Evolution (Non-Human)

  • The advantage of sex in evolving yeast populations. C Zeyl & G Bell. Nature (July 31, 1997).

    Experimental studies with yeast support the hypothesis that sex is advantageous in purging lineages of harmful mutations, but fail to support the hypothesis that sex fascilitates adaptation to new environments.

  • Earliest known Old World monkey skull. B R Benefit & M L McCrossin. Nature (July 24, 1997).

    New data relating to evolution of Old World monkeys and apes.

    Palaeoanthropology: Fossil muzzles and other puzzles. Meike Khler and Salvador Moy-Sol. Nature (July 24, 1997).

    Anthropology: Candidate for Catarrhine Ancestor. Curt Suplee. Washington Post(July 28, 1997).

  • Apparent competition structures ecological assemblages. M B Bonsall & M P Hassell. Nature (July 24, 1997).

    Empirical demonstration of 'apparent' competition due to common predators or parasites.

  • The age of the Popigai impact event and its relation to events at the Eocene/Oligocene boundary (Letter to Nature). R Bottomley, R Grieve, D York & V Masaitis. Nature (July 24, 1997).

    Evidence that Earth suffered at least two major impacts about 36 million years ago.

  • A soil story: Life inside a nematode: Creative chemistry and novel pest control. Christine Mlot. Science News (July 26, 1997).

    Insecticidal bacteria with some amazing genes that were apparently stolen from non-relatives.

  • Evidence for a Large-Scale Reorganization of Early Cambrian Continental Masses by Inertial Interchange True Polar Wander. Joseph L. Kirschvink, Robert L. Ripperdan, David A. Evans. Science (July 25, 1997).

    A competing explanation for the Cambrian 'explosion'.

    When Earth Tipped, Life Went Wild. R. Monastersky. Science News (July 26, 1997).

    Global Shift May Have Sped Evolution: Findings May Explain `Cambrian Explosion'. Kathy Sawyer. Washington Post (July 25, 1997).

  • A polymorphism maintained by opposite patterns of parasitism and predation. J E Losey, A R Ives, J Harmon, F Ballantyne & C Brown. Nature (July 17, 1997).

    Mathematical models and experimental studies with red and green aphid morphs "support an important role for predation in the maintenance of genetic diversity".

  • Hybrids Consummate Species Invasion. Wade Roush. Science (July 18, 1997).

    Vigorous hybrids replace colliding species.

  • Evolutionary biology: Sizing Up Dung Beetle Evolution. Wade Roush. Science (July 11, 1997).

    An example of developmental constraints in the evolution of body parts.

  • Paleoclimatology: Upstart Ice Age Theory Gets Attentive But Chilly Hearing. Richard A. Kerr. Science (July 11, 1997).

    A new theory of the cause of the Ice Ages.

  • Importance of ancestral DNA ages (Scientific Correspondence). J F Y Brookfield. Nature (July 10, 1997).

    Molecular clock estimates of the age of the most recent human common ancestor vary greatly with the somewhat arbitrary choice of values for model parameters.

  • Evolution of genetic redundancy. M A Nowak, M C Boerlijst, J Cooke & J M Smith. Nature (July 10, 1997).

    A new theory to explain the evolution and persistance of redundant genes.

  • Endemic African mammals shake the phylogenetic tree. M S Springer, G C Cleven, O Madsen, W W de Jong, V G Waddell, H M Amrine & M J Stanhope. Nature (July 3, 1997).

    Mitochondrial DNA sequence data suggest that insectivores are not monophyletic, and that golden moles and elephants diverged in an early African radiation during the Cretaceous..

  • Evolution of a Strain of CJD That Induces BSE-Like Plaques. Laura Manuelidis, William Fritch, You-Gen Xi. Science (July 4, 1997).

    Evolution of a new strain of the agent causing ‘mad cow disease’.

  • Developing a New View of Evolution. Elizabeth Pennisi and Wade Roush. Science (July 4, 1997).

    A new approach in evolutionary biology involves analysis of genes involved in development of body plans.

    Crab Legs and Lobster Claws. Elizabeth Pennisi. Science (July 4, 1997).

    Growing Pains: Evo-Devo Researchers Straddle Cultures. Wade Roush and Elizabeth Pennisi. Science (July 4, 1997).

  • Human Evolution and History

  • Human Evolution: A molecular handle on the Neanderthals. Ryk Ward and Chris Stringer. Nature (July 17, 1997).

    See Anthropology: DNA From an Extinct Human in Archives (July 10-16).

    Neandertals make big splash in gene pool. Science News (July 19, 1997).

  • Anthropology: DNA From an Extinct Human. Patricia Kahn and Ann Gibbons. Science (July 11, 1997).

    DNA evidence that Neantertals were not our ancestors.

    DNA Suggests Neanderthal Not a Direct Human Ancestor. Curt Suplee. Washington Post (July 11, 1997).

  • Anthropology: Anthropologists 1, Army Corps 0. Ann Gibbons. Science (July 11, 1997).

    Court case may give scientists a chance to study one of the oldest (9300 yrs) American skeletons.

  • Humanity's Imprecision Vision: A volatile world may have forged minds that make a virtue of uncertainty. Science News (July 12, 1997).

    "Repeated environmental changes over the past 5 million years may have sparked the evolution of human brains tailored to dealing with uncertain conditions."

  • An Endangered Primate's Paradigm: `Make Love, Not War'. John Schwartz. Washington Post (July 14, 1997).

    Bonobos differ from chimps in their basic approach to social relations and conflict.

  • Early Humans and Rapidly Changing Holocene Sea Levels in the Queen Charlotte Islands-Hecate Strait, British Columbia, Canada. Heiner Josenhans, Daryl Fedje, Reinhard Pienitz, John Southon. Science (July 4, 1997).

    Humans occupied B.C. by 10,200 years ago, and may have taken advantage of very low sea levels between 13,500 and 9500 years ago.

  • The Dawn of Humans: The First Europeans. Rick Gore. National Geographic (July, 1997).

    A review of recent evidence that the first humans settled Europe much earlier than previously supposed.

  • Other



    June 1997 [to top]


    Abiogenesis, Exobiology, In Vitro Evolution, Artificial Life

  • Mars Craft Entering New Chapter in Search for Signature of Life. Kathy Sawyer. Washington Post (June 29, 1997).

    New searches for life on Mars' surface.

  • Organismal Evolution (Non-Human)

  • Climate-Evolution Link Weakens. Richard A. Kerr. Science (June 27, 1997).

    "The best compilation of fossil evidence on mammal evolution to date now shows that climate had little effect on most of the evolutionary churnings of the past 80 million years."

  • Longer Tusks Are Healthy Signs. Pallava Bagla. Science (June 27, 1997).

    A study of African elephants suggests that secondary sexual charactheristics (e.g. tusks) may function to advertise genetic vigor.

  • Wing upstroke and the evolution of flapping flight. S O Poore, A Sánchez-Haiman & G E Goslow Jr. Nature (June 19, 1997).

    Powered flight in birds requires a unique musculoskeletal organization.

  • A Role for Ecotones in Generating Rainforest Biodiversity. Thomas B. Smith, Robert K. Wayne, Derek J. Girman, Michael W. Bruford. Science (June 20, 1997).

    This study provides some support for a controversial theory that speciation may occur in the presence of substantial gene flow.

    Life on the Edge: Rainforest Margins May Spawn Species. Martin Enserink. Science (June 20, 1997).

  • Evolution of high mutation rates in experimental populations of E. coli.> P D Sniegowski, P J Gerrish & R E Lenski. Nature (June 11, 1997).

    Mutation rate spontaneously increases in E. coli population undergoing long-term adaptation.

    The tinkerer's evolving tool-box. E. Richard Moxon and David S. Thaler. Nature (June 11, 1997).

  • Role of mutator alleles in adaptive evolution. F Taddei, M Radman, J Maynard-Smith, B Toupance, P H Gouyon & B Godelle. Nature (June 11, 1997).

    Even though most mutations are deleterious or neutral, a theoretical model with more or less 'realistic' parameters for E. coli cultures suggests that even strong mutator genes (e.g., that increase the mutation rate by 1000-fold or so) can accelerate adaptation while remaining at low frequency.

    The tinkerer's evolving tool-box. E. Richard Moxon and David S. Thaler. Nature (June 11, 1997).

  • Molecular evidence for an ancient duplication of the entire yeast genome. K H Wolfe & D C Shields. Nature (June 11, 1997).

    Is yeast a degenerate tetraploid?

    Brewing up a double genome. Science News (June 21, 1997).

  • Trans-kingdom Transposition of the Drosophila Element mariner Within the Protozoan Leishmania. Frederico J. Gueiros-Filho, Stephen M. Beverley. Science (June 13, 1997).

    Experimental evidence supports the hypothesis that the mariner/Tc1 family of transposable elements has spread through the animal kingdom by horizontal transfer.

    Mariner Sails into Leishmania. Daniel L. Hartl. Science (June 13, 1997).

  • New Jersey's link to a global crisis. Science News (June 14, 1997).

    ‘Ancient sediments drilled in New Jersey chronicle the events that killed off the dinosaurs and other life 65 million years ago.’

  • A sexually selected character displacement in flycatchers reinforces premating isolation. G-P SÊtre, T Moum, S Bures, M Kr·l, M Adamjan & J Moreno. Nature (June 5, 1997).

    The "strongest evidence yet" for the controversial theory that natural selection can directly increase reproductive isolation between (insipient) species.

    Is speciation no accident?. Roger K. Butlin and Tom Tregenza . Nature (June 5, 1997).

  • A Nestling Bird from the Lower Cretaceous of Spain: Implications for Avian Skull and Neck Evolution . JosÈ L. Sanz, Luis M. Chiappe, Bernardino P. PÈrez-Moreno, JosÈ J. Moratalla, Francisco Hern·ndez-Carrasquilla, Angela D. Buscalioni, Francisco Ortega, Francisco J. Poyato-Ariza, Diego Rasskin-Gutman, Xavier MartÌnez-DelclÚs. Science (June 6, 1997).

    The oldest (135 million years) yet discovered fossil of a hatchling of an Archaeopteryx-type "bird" (enantiornithine, or "opposite" bird) shows that these birds had nearly modern wings but very primitive (dinosaur-like) skulls.

    Fossilized Hatchling Heats Up the Bird-Dinosaur Debate. Virginia Morell. Science (June 6, 1997).

    Baby Bird Fossil Reinforces a Theory. John Schwartz. The Washington Post (June 9, 1997).

  • Preservation of Chitin in 25-Million-Year-Old Fossils. B. Artur Stankiewicz, Derek E.ÝG. Briggs, Richard P. Evershed, Matthew B. Flannery, Michael Wuttke. Science (June 6, 1997).

    The discovery of chitin in Oligocene insect fossils indicates that time is not the most important factor in its preservation.

  • Nature’s Masterwork: Cats. National Geographic (June, 1997).

    Evolution of the cat family.

    The Family Line: The Human-Cat Connection. National Geographic (June, 1997).

  • Human Evolution and History

  • Human Groups as Units of Selection. David Sloan Wilson. Science (June 20, 1997).

    Duscussion of the controversial theory of 'group selection'.

  • Multiple and Ancient Origins of the Domestic Dog. Carles Vil, Peter Savolainen, Jesús E. Maldonado, Isabel R. Amorim, John E. Rice, Rodney L. Honeycutt, Keith A. Crandall, Joakim Lundeberg, Robert K. Wayne. Science (June 13, 1997).

    Mitochondrial gene sequences support the hypothesis that dogs originated from wolves more than 100,000 years ago, with occasional genetic exchange between wolves and dogs since that time. This date differs considerably from that predicted by fossil evidence (ca. 14,000 years ago).

    The Origin of Dogs: Running With the Wolves. Virginia Morell. Science (June 13, 1997).

    Study Dates House Dogs to 100,000 Years Ago -- DNA Suggests Wild Wolves Bred Primordial Pooch Far Earlier Than Believed. Curt Suplee. Washington Post (June 13, 1997).

    Stalking the Ancient Dog: Man's best friend may go way back. Christine Mlot. Science News (June 28, 1997).

  • Luminescence dating of rock art and past environments using mud-wasp nests in northern Australia. R Roberts, G Walsh, A Murray, J Olley, R Jones, M Morwood, C Tuniz, E Lawson, M Macphail, D Bowdery & I Naumann.

    Mud-wasp nest dating in Australia gives a date of over 17,000 years for some rock paintings.

  • Other

  • Structural Insights into the Evolution of an Antibody Combining Site.Gary J. Wedemayer, Phillip A. Patten, Leo H. Wang, Peter G. Schultz, Raymond C. Stevens. Science (June 13, 1997).

    X-ray crystallography provides details on the ‘apparent Lamarkian nature’ of the evolution of specificity in antibodies by somatic mutation.

    Evolutionary Chemistry: Getting There from Here. Gerald F. Joyce. Science (June 13, 1997).

    Keys to an antibody's near-perfect fit. Science News (June 14, 1997).

  • Ark Claim Survives Court Fight. Elizabeth Finkel. Science (June 6, 1997).

    An Australian court shoots down a geologist's lawsuit against a prominent creationist.


  • May 1997 [to top]


    Abiogenesis, Exobiology, In Vitro Evolution, Artificial Life

  • Petrological evidence for shock melting of carbonates in the martian meteorite ALH84001. E R D Scott, A Yamaguchi & A N Krot. Nature (May 22, 1997).

    Evidence against traces of life in the Martian meteorite.

  • A Molecular View of Microbial Diversity and the Biosphere. Norman R. Pace. Science (May 2, 1997).

    Molecular-phylogenetic studies suggest that the first life on Earth lived off inorganic rather than organic molecules (as Darwin and most evolutionary biologists had supposed).

  • Organismal Evolution (Non-Human)

  • An ancestral mitochondrial DNA resembling a eubacterial genome in miniature. B F Lang, G Burger, C J O'Kelly, R Cedergren, G B Golding, C Lemieux, D Sankoff, M Turmel& M W Gray . Nature (May 29, 1997).

    A "missing link" in the evolution of mitochondria is found in a freshwater protozoan.

    The mitochondrion that time forgot. Jeffrey D. Palmer. Nature (May 29, 1997).

  • Evidence for a clade of nematodes, arthropods and other moulting animals. A M A Aguinaldo, J M Turbeville, L S Linford, M C Rivera, J R Garey, R A Raff & J A Lake. Nature (May 29, 1997).

    New phylogenetic evidence suggests some unsuspected relationships among invertebrates.

    Evolution: The Precise Relationship of `Vermin'. Rick Weiss. Washington Post (June 2, 1997).

  • New evidence concerning avian origins from the Late Cretaceous of Patagonia. F E Novas & P F Puerta. Nature (May 22, 1997).

    Recently discovered theropod dinosaur fossil partially fills in the morphological gap between dinosaurs and Archaeopteryx, and may help explain the evolution of flight.

    A new missing link. Lawrence M. Witmer. Nature (May 22, 1997).

  • Tyrannosuarus suffered from gout. B R Rothschild, D Tanke & K Carpenter. Nature (May 22, 1997).

  • Molecular basis of symbiosis between Rhizobium and legumes. C Freiberg, R Fellay, A bairoch, W J Broughton, A Rosenthal & X Perret. Nature (May 22, 1997).

    A nucleotide sequence from Rhizobium suggests a recent lateral transfer of genetic information between Agrobacterium and Rhizobium.

    Fixing a symbiotic circle. Allan Downie. Nature (May 22, 1997).

  • Progress at the K-T boundary. David Jablonski. Nature (May 22, 1997).

    A newly published survey of the fossil record clarifies some important issues of the K-T boundary mass extinction.

  • T. rex bested by Argentinean beast. Science News (May 24, 1997).

    A dinosaur from Argentina now holds the record as the largest carnivorous dinosaur.

  • Trade-off-invariant rules for evolutionarily stable life histories. E L Charnov. Nature (May 22, 1997).

    A new analytical approach in life history theory.

    Making life simpler. H. C. J. Godfray. Nature (May 22, 1997).

  • Fossil Bolsters Dinosaur-Bird Link. John Schwartz. The Washington Post (May 21, 1997).

    A Newly discovered dinosaur with birdlike features is claimed by some to be a missing link between dinosaurs and Archaeopteryx. The fossil is, however, too recent to be ancestral to Archaeopteryx.

  • The muddle about mutations. Joel R. Peck and Adam Eyre-Walker. Nature (May 8, 1997).

    Deleterious mutations in nematodes are about 100 times less frequent that previously believed.

  • A chilling tale from the ends of the Earth. Alison Mitchell. Nature (May 8, 1997).

    Nearly identical antifreeze proteins are found in Arctic and Antarctic fish, yet the genes for these proteins appear to have evolved along very different pathways.

  • Eye-opening Gene: How many times did eyes arise? John Travis. Science News (May 10, 1997).

    New data casts doubt on the previously favored theory that eyes evolved independently dozens of times.

  • Mammal birth signal cues tadpole to morph. C. Mlot. Science News (May 10, 1997).

    The same hormone mediates human birth and tadpole metamorphosis.

  • The Evolution of Arthropod Nervous Systems. Danial Osorio, Jonathan P. Bacon and Paul M. Whitington. American Scientist (May-June, 1997).

    Similarities in the nervous systems of diverse arthropods suggest a "comparatively sophisticated" rather than a "worm-like" common ancestor.

  • Adaptive differentiation following experimental island colonization in Anolis lizards.. J B Losos, K I Warheit & T W Schoener. Nature (May 1, 1997).

    In a replicated experiment, populations of lizards introduced onto several small islands rapidly differentiated from each other (over 10-14 years), evidently in adapting to the new vegetation. The results support a major role of environment in the evolution of morphology.

    Natural selection out on a limb. Ted J. Case. Nature (May 1, 1997).

    Catching Lizards in the Act of Adapting. Virgina Morrell. Science (May 2, 1997).

  • Paleontologists deplume feathery dinosaur. Science News (May 3, 1997).

    The famous recently discovered Chinese dinosaur appears not to have feathers after all.

  • Human Evolution and History

  • A Hominid from the Lower Pleistocene of Atapuerca, Spain: Possible Ancestor to Neandertals and Modern Humans. J. M. Bermúdez de Castro, J. L. Arsuaga, E. Carbonell, A. Rosas, I. Martínez, M. Mosquera. Science (May 30, 1997).

    The discovery in Europe of 800,000 year old human bones with some surprisingly modern facial features may "radically reconfigure" the human family tree.

    A New Face for Human Ancestors. Ann Gibbons. Science (May 30, 1997).

    Fossils Suggest New Ancestor Of Humans -- Bones in Spanish Cave Open Scientific Debate. Curt Suplee. Washington Post (May 30, 1997).

    Into the Pit of Human History. Ann Gibbons. Science (May 30, 1997).

    Spanish fossils enter human ancestry fray. Science News (May 31, 1997).

  • Brawn of humanity. Science News (May 24, 1997).

    More on fossil evidence that ancient humans had larger bodies (see Archives May 8-14).

  • Seeds of agriculture in the Americas. Science News (May 24, 1997).

    More on evidence of squash cultivation in America over 10,000 years ago (see Archives May 8-14).

  • The Initial Domestication of Cucurbita pepo in the Americas 10,000 Years Ago. Bruce D. Smith. Science (May 9, 1997).

    Dating of squash seeds from Mexico suggests that agriculture began in America much earlier than had previously been supposed.

    Squash Seeds Yield New View of Early American Farming. Wade Roush. Science (May 9, 1997).

  • Body mass and encephalization in Pleistocene Homo. C B Ruff, E Trinkaus & T W Holliday. Nature (May 8, 1997).

    A new method of estimating body size of human ancestors gives a clearer view of the evolution of human brain and body size. The data show a rapid decrease in brain and body size 100,000 years ago.

    Bone Sizes Trace the Decline of Man (and Woman). Ann Gibbons. Science (May 9, 1997).

    They might be giants. John Kappelman. Nature, (May 8, 1997).

    Evolution: When Humans Hit the Big Time. Curt Suplee. The Washington Post (May 12, 1997).

  • The Dawn of Humans: Expanding Worlds. Rick Gore. National Geographic (May, 1997).

    Did Homo erectus originate in Asia? Did humans have seafaring technology over 100,000 years ago?.

  • Monte Verde and the Pleistocene Peopling of the Americas. David J. Meltzer. Science (May 2, 1997).

    Dates of ~12,500 years ago for the Monte Verde site in southern Chile suggest that humans first came to America over 20,000 years ago.

  • Other

  • Fairfax School Board Rejects Appeal for Textbook Disclaimer -- Parents Found Creationism Reference Demeaning. Robert O'Harrow Jr. Washington Post (May 30, 1997).

    The Fairfax County School Board (Virginia) narrowly refuses to disavow language in a high school textbook that compares creationism to astrology and other "pseudo-sciences".

  • Morphologists Learn to Live With Molecular Upstarts. Michael Balter. Science (May 16, 1997).

    Report on a recent systematics conference in Paris: Improved relations between those advocating morphological and molecular approaches to organismal classification.


  • April 24-30, 1997 [to top]


    Abiogenesis, Exobiology, In Vitro Evolution, Artificial Life

  • Continuous in Vitro Evolution of Catalytic Function. Martin C. Wright and Gerald F. Joyce. Science (April 25, 1997).

    Substantial improvement in catalysis and amplification by continuous in vitro evolution of RNA molecules.

    RNA Events: Ribozymes in Wonderland. Andrew D. Ellington, Michael P. Robertson, and Jim Bull. Science (April 25, 1977).

  • The Greening of Europa: Are the satellites of giant planets a place to look for life? Corey S. Powell. Scientific American (April, 1997).

  • Organismal Evolution (Non-Human)

  • The Origin of Animal Body Plans. Douglas Erwin, James Valentine and David Jablonski. American Scientist (March-April, 1997).

    Molecular biology (Hox genes) provides insights into the Cambrian explosion.

  • Trove of Fossils Offers View of Prehistoric Life: Researchers Confirm Discovery in China. Associated Press, Washington Post (April 26, 1997).

    Downy dinosaur, eggs, etc.

  • Human Evolution and History

  • Back to Africa. Ann Gibbons. Science (April 25, 1997).

    With new genetic data, a middle ground may be emerging in Out-of-Africa vs. Multiregional debate concerning the origin of Homo sapiens.

  • Other

  • Lights turning red on amber. Bryan Sykes. Nature (April 24, 1997).

    A definite failure in an attempt to recover ancient DNA from insects trapped in amber.

  • New Test Sizes Up Randomness. C. Seife. Science (April 25, 1997).

    A simple test of the degree of randomness of a sequence.

  • [to top]

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