evolution

Robert Taylor via Flickr

It all started with a black squirrel.  These rare creatures aren't a separate species - they're your garden variety gray squirrel, but a genetic mutation has given them a black fur coat.  That got Dave wondering if a black squirrel has any advantages its fairer forebears don't (other than being incredibly popular among nature photographers).  Wondering turned to arguing.  

Robert Taylor via Flickr

It all started with a black squirrel.  These rare creatures aren't a separate species - they're your garden variety gray squirrel, but a genetic mutation has given them a black fur coat.  That got Dave wondering if a black squirrel has any advantages its fairer forebears don't (other than being incredibly popular among nature photographers).  Wondering turned to arguing.  

The Uncommon History of the Common Junco

Mar 6, 2015
Blake Matheson via flickr Creative Commons

A huge question in evolutionary biology is the very basic one: How do species form? It turns out that the Dark-eyed Junco, one of the most common birds at winter feeders, is providing a  clear picture of that process.

First, a quick review of what defines a species:

Robert Taylor via Flickr

It all started with a black squirrel.  These rare creatures aren't a separate species - they're your garden variety gray squirrel, but a genetic mutation has given them a black fur coat.  That got Dave wondering if a black squirrel has any advantages its fairer forebears don't (other than being incredibly popular among nature photographers).  Wondering turned to arguing.  

The Common Junco And Its Uncommon History

Mar 7, 2014
foxtail_1 via flickr Creative Commons

A huge question in evolutionary biology is the very basic one: How do species form? It turns out that the Dark-eyed Junco, one of the most common birds at winter feeders, is providing a  clear picture of that process.

First, a quick review of what defines a species:

(Photo by brondabailey via Flickr)

All that "40 is the new 30" boosterism aside, midlife is not the start of a downward spiral. David Bainbridge is a clinical veterinary anatomist at Cambridge University, and the author of several books including Middle Age: A Natural History. He believes middle age might be a pivotal part of the human evolutionary process, and potentially the most productive years of our lives. 

We’ve spoken on the program before about the tendency in science to connect today’s  traits and ailments to evolutionary adaptations for survival from which they presumably developed.  Not every aspect of humanity derives from Darwinian roots, argues Dr.

Photo by jetheriot, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Our 11 for '11 series continues with Raymond Tallis, author of Aping Mankind, on why our focus on brain-science may be overrated.  PLUS, the next segment of the WBEZ series "Out of the Shadows", and why American Chinatowns are becoming American ghost-towns.  And a brief look at the science of polling.

Photo by jetheriot, courtesy of Flickr Creative Commons

Here on Word of Mouth, we love brain science.  Brain-science in the courtroom.  Brain-science and aesthetics. Brain-science and poverty.  Image a brain and we'll hear your pitch with open ears.

Caremore, a company that has revolutionized eldercare - providing better care and doing it profitably.  The "next big thing" prediction for Apple - under new leadership.  And 18th century explorers who fearlessly set out to catalog the variety of species that roam the earth.    

Photo credit: Chausino, via Flickr Creative Commons

In the Eighteenth century, explorers set out to catalog the variety of life on Earth... Until then, even educated people believed in mythological creatures lurking outside the relative safety of their home environments.  Today, there are two million documented species on Earth.  Richard Conniff,  Guggenheim Fellow and Guest Columnist for the New York Times discusses his new book "The Species Seekers: Heroes, Fools, and the Mad Pursuit of Life On Earth".

 

(Photo by Ivan via Flickr Creative Commons)

Author David Rothenberg talks about the mystery of animal's preferences for particular colors, shapes, and songs in his book, Survival of the Beautiful.