Paleontologist Spills Beans on Evolutionary Emptiness

first_imgA noted evolutionary paleontologist reviews a new book on evolutionary mechanisms favorably, but gives Darwin skeptics ammo in the process.Kevin Padian, a renowned evolutionary paleontologist, is certainly no friend of creation or intelligent design. When speaking to his Darwin buddies, he feels comfortable enough to be frank about problems. Here are some scraps from the table of his book review in Nature, “Evolution: Parallel lives,” a review of Improbable Destinies: Fate, Chance, and the Future of Evolution, by Jonathan B. Losos (Riverhead: 2017). Padian highly recommends the book, but has to make some corrections to views that Losos presents. We summarize some tasty morsels:Dinosaurs were not wiped out by an asteroid. Padian debunks a common myth that Losos perpetuates. The book “goes off the rails” early on, he complains:There is one problem. Some research suggests that dinosaurs had been declining for millions of years before the impact as the climate changed, shallow inland seas receded and returned, temperatures dropped and inland environments destabilized. Their extinction rates did not increase at the end of the Cretaceous; rather, origination of new species plummeted, and so diversity dropped. If there were any dinosaurs left by the very end of the period, they would probably not have succeeded in the cooler, forested world of the Palaeogene period that followed. The Chicxulub asteroid and the large-scale volcanic activity around the same time may have been almost irrelevant to their fates.Mammals did not arise because the dinosaurs went extinct.Neither is it sensible to maintain that their demise paved the way for mammals. Recent discoveries show enormous ecological diversity in Cretaceous mammals, from swimmers to gliders; they rarely topped 10 kilograms at the time, but became larger in the Palaeogene. Just as importantly, they lived in environments quite different from those of the Cretaceous. So stories about “replaying the tape” of evolution can acquire a different cast, given further evidence.Convergent evolution is not a law of nature.We can catalogue examples all day, but is there any real theory of convergence? We cannot assert that some lineages are ‘fated’ to converge on these features. Biological ideas of determinism went out with Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in the late eighteenth century.Natural selection is the Stuff Happens Law.The idea of contingency is perhaps best based on palaeontologist Dolf Seilacher’s theory of constructional morphology. In this, features such as the elephant’s trunk or the osprey’s habit of catching fish with claws rather than beak result from three factors: adaptation (the selective component), evolutionary history (organisms must work with what they’ve inherited) and construction (how the material properties of living structures empower and constrain their form). From there, history takes over. Evolution is not a preordained, inevitable narrative. Neither is it a crapshoot, with random particulates disporting themselves until something works. Rather, it is like the game Monopoly. Where you go next is in part determined by where you are now; who you are is where you’ve been (your acquisitions); where you can go is determined by the throw of the dice, with limited possibilities and probabilities.Padian doesn’t seem to reflect on the fact that Monopoly is played by intelligent minds with a goal. Evolution has no goal or desire to win; therefore, it is a complete throw of the dice (the Stuff Happens Law), where extinction is just as good an outcome as survival, because naturalism is blind, and nobody cares.Padian threw his dice, landed on Chance and got a “Go to Jail” card. He should realize that in Evolution Monopoly, the board is the fitness landscape, and there are no “Get Out of Jail Free” cards in the deck. His only way out is to become a creationist and find grace.(Visited 1,034 times, 1 visits today)FacebookTwitterPinterestSave分享0last_img read more

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No pushovers: NU Lady Bulldogs prove they’re more than just a bunch of rookies

first_imgDon’t miss out on the latest news and information. NU showed tremendous fortitude and composure when it stunned heavily favored University of the Philippines, 25-17, 14-25, 17-25, 25-23, 17-15, in the UAAP Season 81 women’s volleyball tournament on Wednesday.The Lady Bulldogs have six rookies in their roster but those youngsters are as proven as anyone in the league with five of them having steered Nazareth School of NU to four straight UAAP high school titles.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSUrgent reply from Philippine ‍football chiefSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesREAD:UAAP volleyball: Young NU squad pulls off five-set stunner over UP“You just can’t discount them as rookies,” said head coach Norman Miguel in Filipino. “These girls won four straight titles in high school so even though they’re rookies they already have the character to help the team.” And of the five rookies in NU’s lineup, including injured setter Joyme Cagande, one young lady stood out in libero Jennifer Nierva.NU’s defensive ace was an immovable force on the ground tallying 26 excellent digs and 29 successful receptions—three more than what UP as a whole had.Nierva was also unflappable when she described how the NU engine works, showing a confidence ahead of her years.“I think we want to show that we want to prove something that each and every one of us really wants to win,” said Nierva in Filipino. “We’re not complete right now but we want to achieve something.”“We won’t ever say that our team is a pushover, no. We use the negativity as our motivation,” Nierva added.ADVERTISEMENT Hong Kong tunnel reopens, campus siege nears end Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss Urgent reply from Philippine ‍football chief 1 dead, 3 injured in Quezon road crash SEA Games hosting troubles anger Duterte Paul Lee says Hotshots should be ready for Gin Kingscenter_img Trump campaign, GOP groups attack Google’s new ad policy P2.5 B shabu seized in Makati sting, Chinese national nabbed MOST READ Lacson backs proposal to elect president and vice president in tandem View comments MANILA, Philippines—The National University Lady Bulldogs had a simple message to the rest of the league—they’re more than just rookies.ADVERTISEMENT And while Nierva took care of the team’s defense, Princess Robles and Ivy Lacsina handled the offense.Robles and Lacsina, both rookies, had 17 and 16 points, respectively for the Lady Bulldogs who improved to 2-4 for the no.6 spot in the standings.“We played without any doubts,” said Roble. “We really wanted to win earlier.”“We showed our fight and that we can win our fights,” said Lacsina. “No one in our team doubted herself because everyone pushes each other to be better. Your teammate and the coaches will always push you.”Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next LATEST STORIESlast_img read more

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PFL reboot kicks off May 25

first_imgTwo-day strike in Bicol fails to cripple transport ‘Rebel attack’ no cause for concern-PNP, AFP Rookie, legend play mentor roles Private companies step in to help SEA Games hosting PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games PLAY LIST 02:42PH underwater hockey team aims to make waves in SEA Games01:44Philippines marks anniversary of massacre with calls for justice01:19Fire erupts in Barangay Tatalon in Quezon City01:07Trump talks impeachment while meeting NCAA athletes02:49World-class track facilities installed at NCC for SEA Games02:11Trump awards medals to Jon Voight, Alison Krauss The Philippines Football League (PFL) will finally kick off on May 25 with seven clubs in the fold, following the Philippine Football Federation’s (PFF) decision to grant Mendiola FC and Philippine Air Force club licenses that will allow both squads to vie in the competition.PFF general secretary Ed Gastanes said Mendiola and Air Force were granted provisional licenses by the federation just like Green Archers United, which joins pioneer clubs Ceres Negros, Kaya-Iloilo, Global and Stallion Laguna this season.ADVERTISEMENT The PFF had to salvage the competition after the PPL defied the federation’s directive by allowing Mendiola and Air Force to play despite the absence of a club license.The PPL only had five clubs, which was later reduced to four when Ceres decided to also withdraw from the competition.FEATURED STORIESSPORTSPrivate companies step in to help SEA Games hostingSPORTSPalace wants Cayetano’s PHISGOC Foundation probed over corruption chargesSPORTSSingapore latest to raise issue on SEA Games food, logisticsGastanes said the PFF will use the PFL to determine which clubs to nominate for AFC competitions next year. Don’t miss out on the latest news and information. DA eyes importing ‘galunggong’ anew Sports Related Videospowered by AdSparcRead Next Catholic schools seek legislated pay hike, too Ethel Booba twits Mocha over 2 toilets in one cubicle at SEA Games venue LATEST STORIES MOST READ Cayetano: Senate, Drilon to be blamed for SEA Games mess Duterte wants probe of SEA Games mess View commentslast_img read more

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FBI Probe Into Alleged NCAA Recruiting Violations Leave Black

North Carolina State NCAA college basketball player Dennis Smith, Jr. answers a question during the Atlantic Coast Conference media day in Charlotte, N.C. (AP Photo/Bob Leverone, File)The latest details of payments to players in the federal investigation that has been lurking in the shadows since first rocking college basketball last fall threatens the sport’s’ basic foundation with the breadth of alleged corruption.Bank records and other expense reports that are part of the investigation list a wide range of impermissible payments from agents to at least two dozen players or their relatives, according to documents obtained by Yahoo Sports.The depth of the violations raises questions about the structure of college athletics.NCAA President Mark Emmert said in a statement Friday the allegations “if true, point to systematic failures that must be fixed and fixed now if we want college sports in America.”Yahoo said Friday that the documents obtained in discovery during the investigation link current players including Michigan State’s Miles Bridges, Duke’s Wendell Carter and Alabama’s Collin Sexton to potential benefits that would be violations of NCAA rules. According to the report, players over the past several years and family members allegedly received cash, entertainment and travel expenses from former NBA agent Andy Miller and his agency ASM Sports.Don Jackson, an Alabama-based attorney who has worked on numerous college eligibility cases, said the root of the problem for the NCAA is that the amateurism model does not work.“This problem can be solved if players are compensated. This whole issue can be mitigated if players are compensated,” Jackson said. “This model of amateurism does not work. The NCAA is not capable of adequately policing tens of thousands of athletes around the country to determine whether or not they have violated the NCAA’s model of amateurism.“We’re talking about in some instances kids receiving $30 meals from agents.”A balance sheet from December 2015 lists several payments under “Loan to Players,” including $43,500 to Dallas Mavericks guard Dennis Smith, who played one season at North Carolina State in 2016-17. Another document says Smith received a total of $73,500 in loans and indicated options to recoup the money after Smith didn’t sign with ASM.N.C. State athletic director Debbie Yow said the school disassociated itself from Miller in 2012, saying the agent’s close work with a youth coach created a vulnerability for the school “that we cannot tolerate.” Yow said the school will fully cooperate with any investigations.Isaiah Whitehead, a guard for the Brooklyn Nets, received $26,136 while a freshman at Seton Hall, according to the documents. He received $37,657 and was setting up a payment plan, according to another document. Whitehead signed with ASM but later left the agency.A balance sheet also said Tim Quarterman, now playing for the Agua Caliente Clippers of the NBA G League, received at least $16,000 while a junior at LSU.The story says several families of players or handlers received more than $1,000 in payments from ASM Sports before turning professional.Apple Jones, the mother of former Kansas player Josh Jackson, received $2,700, and current Southern California player Bennie Boatwright or his father Bennie Sr., received at least $2,000, according to documents.The story says the mother of Bridges is among those receiving hundreds of dollars in advances. Current Kentucky player Kevin Knox, Carter and Sexton are listed among players or families meeting or having meals with former ASM Sports associate Christian Dawkins.Kentucky coach John Calipari said neither he nor his staff used Miller or any other agent to provide financial benefits to student athletes. He said the school will conduct an internal review and cooperate with authorities.Jackson said the NCAA or the schools would need to conduct their own investigations as opposed to making any rulings based on the documents from the FBI probe.“They can’t just automatically accept the credibility of this document,” the Alabama-based attorney said.Emmert said the NCAA Board of Governors and recently formed independent Commission on College Basketball are committed to “making transformational changes” and will cooperate with the federal prosecutors to “identify and punish the unscrupulous parties seeking to exploit the system through criminal acts.” read more

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County Board of Supervisors extends local emergency proclamation for Lilac Fire recovery

first_img Categories: Local San Diego News, Wildfires Tags: Lilac Fire FacebookTwitter Updated: 3:56 PM Posted: January 9, 2018 KUSI Newsroom County Board of Supervisors extends local emergency proclamation for Lilac Fire recoverycenter_img SAN DIEGO (KUSI) — The county’s estimated cost of cleanup and erosion control in areas affected by the Lilac Fire stands at $3.9 million, officials said Tuesday as the Board of Supervisors voted to extend a state of emergency in connection with last month’s massive and destructive blaze.San Diego County could recoup about half that cost from a federal grant. Officials are requesting additional state and federal reimbursement that would cover efforts beyond initial erosion control, road repair, debris removal and other cleanup.By the county’s count, 113 homes were destroyed and 55 were damaged in the Lilac Fire, which broke out in Pala Mesa on Dec. 7. Driven by Santa Ana winds, the blaze that scorched 4,100 acres in North County over several days also destroyed two business structures and damaged another five. Ninety other buildings, such as sheds or barns, were destroyed and 18 were damaged, according to the county.The county has overseen the removal of more than 14,500 pounds of hazardous waste from areas burned by the fire; repaired 1,300 feet of guardrail along Old Highway 395; replaced 15 road signs and posts that were damaged; and removed 15 trees that toppled in public areas.The overall cost of the fire response has not yet been calculated. January 9, 2018 KUSI Newsroom, last_img read more

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Study shows Australian jack jumper ants navigate using landmarks

first_img Citation: Study shows Australian jack jumper ants navigate using landmarks (2013, June 26) retrieved 18 August 2019 from https://phys.org/news/2013-06-australian-jack-jumper-ants-landmarks.html (Phys.org) —A trio of researchers from The Australian National University has found that solitary foraging jack jumper ants take mental snapshots of the terrain as they move around. This allows the ants, the team notes in their paper published in the journal Proceedings of the Royal Society B, to find their way home using landmark identification. More information: Mapping the navigational knowledge of individually foraging ants, Myrmecia croslandi, Published 26 June 2013 doi: 10.1098/rspb.2013.0683AbstractAnts are efficient navigators, guided by path integration and visual landmarks. Path integration is the primary strategy in landmark-poor habitats, but landmarks are readily used when available. The landmark panorama provides reliable information about heading direction, routes and specific location. Visual memories for guidance are often acquired along routes or near to significant places. Over what area can such locally acquired memories provide information for reaching a place? This question is unusually approachable in the solitary foraging Australian jack jumper ant, since individual foragers typically travel to one or two nest-specific foraging trees. We find that within 10 m from the nest, ants both with and without home vector information available from path integration return directly to the nest from all compass directions, after briefly scanning the panorama. By reconstructing panoramic views within the successful homing range, we show that in the open woodland habitat of these ants, snapshot memories acquired close to the nest provide sufficient navigational information to determine nest-directed heading direction over a surprisingly large area, including areas that animals may have not visited previously. Explore further Journal information: Proceedings of the Royal Society B Sugar ants ‘know when they’re lost’ Ants are known to use various methods to find their way home after foraging, most notably path integration. This is where ants record distance traveled and in what direction as they march around and then use that information to help them find their way home. In this new effort, the researchers found that when foraging relatively close to home, jack jumper ants also note landmarks as they travel that they can use to create a mental map that leads back to their nest.In a prior study carried out by researchers at Australia’s Vision Centre, it was found that bull ants had more difficulty finding their way home in the dark than in the light of day. This suggested they use landmarks as navigation aids. Building on these findings, the researchers in this new study collected 50 jack jumper ants and moved them various distances from the nest, then watched (using differential GPS) to see if they could find their way home. The group found that at distances of 10 meters or less, the ants were able to look around them then head straight for home. In contrast, when the researchers carried the ants 100 meters from their nest, the ants were confused and attempted to use path integration to orient themselves.These findings suggested the ants were using landmarks to find their way home. To add credence to their theory, the team used cameras to study the terrain in which the ants had been released; these cameras allowed the researchers to look around from the vantage point of the ants. Doing so allowed them to very clearly see that various landmarks provided the ants sufficient information to guide their trip home. As the distance from the nest was increased, however, the team found it more and more difficult to use landmark information to create a return map.Based on their observations, the researchers conclude that the ants do indeed use landmarks as a form of navigational aid. They note also that this simple ability far outstrips the abilities of current robots, thus jack jumper ants may serve as a model for robot builders looking to improve navigational skills in their creations. © 2013 Phys.org This document is subject to copyright. Apart from any fair dealing for the purpose of private study or research, no part may be reproduced without the written permission. The content is provided for information purposes only.last_img read more

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