Welcome back to the Carnival of Evolution - the place where the sideshow freaks of nature, the genetic mutants of the Tree of Life, run the show. Yes - we are all mutants, each of us with our own mutant powers, whether that be gripping plastic electronic mice with opposable thumbs or using specialized spiny penises to scrape the competing life juice of our competitors from the orifice of our beloved (sorry - I've been reading Dr. Tatiana's Sex Advice for All Creation - about the evolution of sex in the animal kingdom).
To what do we owe our gratitude for such wondrous gifts? Why, nothing more than the variable nature of inheritance and a competition for survival and reproduction.
As mentioned in the previous edition of the carnival, posted here just a few short days ago, a whole new slew of evolutionary links appeared in our BlogCarnival.com submission basket upon submission of edition #8. Thus, in a special unprecedented issue, I now bring you PART TWO of this month's Carnival of Evolution #8. We have some new faces appearing in this issue, intermingled with familiar acclaimed contributors of editions past.
A quick administrative note to future contributors: don't even think of submitting a post entitled "Teaching Intelligent Design." You will be summarily rejected.
An example of the type of detritus not likely to make it into a blog carnival devoted to the wonders of natural selection includes articles attempting to claim that the amazing complexity of some biological phenomenon is too great to have happened naturally.
A sperm's journey through, as Peter Buckland of Forms Most Beautiful puts it, "potentially hostile vaginal territory" is indeed an utterly astonishing and deadly adventure. But what about wasted sperm, unimplanted blastocysts, and the developmental disorders that plague human reproduction? Ahh, that’s okay…Apparently God still did it.
"Oh yeah? How do you know?" I hear my opponent whine. Well, I don't know. Anyone who has studied or considered the philosophy of science understands that nothing is absolutely knowable. Thankfully, Kuhn and Popper showed us that that's okay - pragmatism works just fine.
The thing about evolution - it has an almost unfathomable mountains of evidence backing it. One simple yet always entertaining type of evidence that can be used to ease folks into an evolutionary understanding is that of human vestigial traits. The List Universe gives us one of the better rundowns of the top ten vestigial evidences of human evolution that I've seen.
But the arguments will continue to spew forth. Luckily The Evolving Mind is there as the Clever Criticisms of Evolution arise – criticisms that aren’t so clever that he can’t refute them - in this fourth part of a series.
So what else can we do to spread the knowledge? The Mississippi Atheists give us a great post on "how to defend science education in your state" – Stand strong my fellow southern and proud while also intelligent and scientific brethren (and sistren?). The South will rise again (or eventually for the first time)! Author's note: I'm a native Arkansan and Texan.
What if you are someone that is fascinated by evolution, but does not necessarily understand the science behind it or how to read all those weird pictures with the branches? One start would be to take a stroll over to Life Before Death to get a layperson's crash course in how to interpret evolutionary trees.
Of course, once you understand evolution, you can use that thinking to do all sorts of other wacky things - such as compare the language of motorists and their vehicles with chimps and the evolution of language, as The Physics of Chi and the Evolution of Man has done in a very entertaining post. (e.g. In car language, a horn means "Watch out" or "Aahh" or "Hello" or "MOVE!", while yelling out the window generally means "I'm angry for some reason, but I can't tell you why because I'm driving." Chimps have all this and more - minus the driving)
Or as Seeds Aside tells us - you can go out and discover new pieces of the evolutionary puzzle, such as the curious tale (and first report) of an insect pollination relationship between a TRUE bug (hemipteran) and a plant.
Or perhaps you may find that the “Great Speciators,” the white-eyes (a bird), apparently do evolve faster than any other avian group on earth - a tale brought to us by the prolific GrrlScientist of Living the Scientific Life.
Alternatively, you could host a debate on "Who was more important: Darwin or Lincoln?" as the Smithsonian's Surprising Science has done ( I was certainly surprised at that one - a better question: "Who would win in a deathmatch: Darwin or Lincoln?").
And finally, if one is feeling particularly ambitious you could attempt to plan an entire year in which you only did things related to Darwin - The Year of Charles Darwin Ultimate Tour (Part 1) - also at Surprising Science.
There are just oh so many things to do with evolutionary knowledge...
With that, the two-part Carnival of Evolution #8 concludes. Join us again in one month as the Carnival of Evolution #9 makes its appearance at Moneduloides. Use this handy form for submissions. We are seeking new hosts, so please volunteer if you have
the will. Let's make this carnival last!!