Category Archives: speciation

Revisiting an old paper, but a good one

I have to brag a bit in the title because if you say a paper is an “oldie,” you have to also say “it’s a goodie”. But I think this one is—it’s the first of two papers I wrote with my then-grad-student Allen Orr on the time course of speciation in Drosophila.  And it’s one […]

More “evolutionary theory overturned” hype, but, as usual, it’s overrated

Once again the magazines are hyping Big New Changes in Evolutionary Theory. This time, though, it’s the respected The Economist, which has a policy of not showing the authors’ names. They should have, for some authors should be given an education about their subject, or at least be held accountable for errors. I am surprised that […]

The intellectual vacuity of New Scientist’s evolution issue: 2. The supposed nonexistence of species

Yesterday I began “deconstructing” (as the cool kids say) the claims in the new issue of New Scientist, below, stating that evolutionary theory needs a reboot.  I don’t intend to go through all 13 “novelties” that supposedly call for an “Extended Evolutionary Synthesis”, but I’ll tackle just a few this week, for “unpacking” (as the […]

Today: Rosemary Grant gives an online talk on speciation

Rosemary Grant, along with her partner Peter Grant at Princeton, have done pathbreaking work on speciation, particularly in the finches of the Galápagos islands. (They’re a close team, and even share one Wikipedia page). Their work, for example, has revealed unexpected levels of hybridization between what were considered “good” species, and of course the duo, […]

How often do bird species hybridize?

There are many reasons why we want to know how often distinct species hybridize, i.e., form individuals resulting from the mating of a male from one species with a female from a different species. For one thing, if this kind of mixing was very frequent, it would be hard to recognize distinct species as the […]

My last research paper. Part 3: Significance

In the past week I’ve written two posts about what I think will be the last “research paper” I write, i.e., a paper in which I actually did work at the bench (pushing flies). I’ve covered the paper at some length because I think the experiment is cool, because the results were conclusive, and because […]

The Washington Post refuses to correct scientific errors

Two days ago I analyzed an article about hybrid parrots that had just appeared in the Washington Post. It was grossly misleading in assuming that two parrots of different “species” (they weren’t—one was a hybrid) had mated and produced, lo, a parrot of another “new species” (also wrong). I tweeted my correction to the Washington […]

Not even wrong: The Washington Post botches a biology story

A misguided science story just appeared in the Washington Post. Read on. I will claim some expertise in this critique because my field of study is speciation. Indeed, I literally wrote the book on speciation in collaboration with Allen Orr. But regardless of my “science cred”, Theresa Vargas, a local reporter for the Post, apparently […]

A misguided philosopher claims that species don’t exist

I won’t say that philosophers in general have nothing to contribute to debates about the nature of biological species, but this philosopher certainly does: Henry Taylor, a fellow in philosophy at the University of Birmingham. His paper in The Conversation (click on screenshot below) not only says that the most used species concept in evolutionary […]

Railing about rails again: No, Science, it’s NOT THE SAME SPECIES!

UPDATE: Science has now corrected its post by issuing the addendum below.  As you’ll see in the comments below, author Alex Fox credits this post for the correction, which is gentlemanly of him. Thanks to reader Barry for the spot. *************** It is a truth universally acknowledged that the two most prestigious science journals in […]