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The Critic's Resource on AntiEvolution

NCSE Evolution Education Update for 2009/11/13

(by NCSE Deputy Director Glenn Branch)

Dear Friends of NCSE,

A host of interesting reading and watching, as the sesquicentennial of
the Origin approaches, the third episode of Becoming Human is aired,
EvoS Journal makes its debut, five videos expounding "Evolution in Two
Minutes or Less" are posted at Discover magazine's website, and a
symposium on "Evolution in Extreme Environments" is webcast.


As November 24, 2009, the sesquicentennial anniversary of the
publication of Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, approaches,
celebrations are continuing around the country and around the world,
as well as in the literature and on the internet. As NCSE previously
reported, Science is allocating a special section of its website to "a
variety of news features, scientific reviews and other special
content." Similarly, Nature is providing "continuously updated news,
research and analysis on Darwin's life, his science and his legacy."
Herewith a sampling of further celebrations in the literature -- and
let NCSE know of any worthwhile contributions to add!

To celebrate the anniversary, the journal BioScience is making James
T. Costa's article "The Darwinian Revelation: Tracing the Origin and
Evolution of an Idea," from its November 2009 issue (59 [10]),
available on-line free of charge. "The idea of evolution by natural
selection formulated by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace is a
cornerstone of modern biology, yet few biology students or
professionals are familiar with the processes of discovery behind the
idea," Costa writes. "I suggest that in teaching evolution today,
educators could profitably draw on both Darwin's personal intellectual
journey in coming to his ideas, and the compelling argument structure
he devised in presenting his theory."

"Darwinian Revolutions" -- written, directed, and narrated by Allen
MacNeill of Cornell University -- is a new series of six on-line
videos that together provide a brief introduction to Darwin's theory
of evolution by natural selection and its implications. On his blog,
MacNeill observes, "the theory of evolution is more dynamic, more
exciting, more widely accepted, and more widely applied than at any
time in the past century and a half. With the accelerating pace of
discoveries in evolutionary biology and their applications in biology,
medicine, psychology, economics, and even literature and art, the 21st
century shows all indications of being what the founders of the
'modern synthesis' called it back in 1959: the 'century of Darwin' and
his theory of evolution by natural selection."

A special issue of the journal Naturwissenschaften (2009; 96 [11])
commemorates the anniversary with papers by Ulrich Kutschera on
"Charles Darwin’s Origin of Species, directional selection, and the
evolutionary sciences today"; Hartmut Follmann and Carol Brownson on
"Darwin's warm little pond revisited: From molecules to the origin of
life"; Rolf G. Beutel, Frank Friedrich and Richard A. B. Leschen on
"Charles Darwin, beetles and phylogenetics"; Simon Conway Morris on
"The predictability of evolution: Glimpses into a post-Darwinian
world"; and Ulrich Kutschera and Karl J. Niklas on "Evolutionary plant
physiology: Charles Darwin’s forgotten synthesis." All articles in the
special issue will be freely available on-line until December 30,

For the special on-line features from Science and Nature, visit: 

For Costa's article in BioScience, visit: 

For "Darwinian Revolutions" and MacNeill's blog post about it, visit: 

For the special issue of Naturwissenschaften, visit: 


The third episode of Becoming Human -- a three-part NOVA documentary
on what the latest scientific research reveals about our hominid
relatives -- will air on November 17, 2009, on public broadcasting
stations around the country. According to NOVA:


How did modern humans take over the world? New evidence suggests that
they left Africa and colonized the rest of the globe far earlier, and
for different reasons, than previously thought. As for Homo sapiens,
we have planet Earth to ourselves today, but that's a very recent and
unusual situation. For millions of years, many kinds of hominids
co-existed. At one time Homo sapiens shared the planet with
Neanderthals, Homo erectus, and the mysterious "Hobbits" --
three-foot-high humans who thrived on the Indonesian island of Flores
until as recently as 12,000 years ago.

"Last Human Standing" examines why "we" survived while those other
ancestral cousins died out. And it explores the provocative question:
In what ways are we still evolving today?


Further information about the film, including a preview, interviews,
and interactive features, is available at NOVA's website. Information
on finding local public broadcasting stations is available via PBS's

For further information, visit: 

For information on local stations, visit: 


The first issue of EvoS Journal: The Journal of the Evolutionary
Studies Consortium -- a new open-access on-line peer-reviewed journal
designed to promote the education of evolutionary theory in colleges
and universities -- is now available. The journal is published by the
Evolutionary Studies Consortium, of which NCSE is a member
institution. The consortium seeks to "facilitate the development and
implementation of Evolutionary Studies Programs at colleges and
universities across the United States"; the original model for such
programs is David Sloan Wilson's Evolutionary Studies Program at
Binghamton University.

Correspondingly, EvoS Journal seeks to "publish peer-reviewed articles
related to evolutionary theory in higher education" as well as to
"publish undergraduate peer-reviewed publications that have arisen
from courses offered through Evolutionary Studies Programs." In their
editorial introduction to the first issue, Rosemarie Sokol Chang,
Glenn Geher, Jennifer Waldo, and David Sloan Wilson write, "The
contents of EvoS Journal will be doubly exhilarating. First, there is
the exhilaration of expanding evolutionary theory throughout and
beyond the biological sciences, including all aspects of humanity.
Second, there is the exhilaration of incorporating this expansion into
higher education and public life. We look forward to your
participation, as readers and contributors."

For EvoS Journal, visit: 

For information about the Evolutionary Studies Consortium, visit: 

For information about the Evolutionary Studies Program at Binghamton
University, visit: 

For the editorial introduction to the first issue (PDF), visit: 


NCSE congratulates Scott Hatfield on winning Discover magazine's
"Evolution in Two Minutes or Less" video contest, for "Evolution: The
Song." The contest's judge, biologist and blogger P. Z. Myers,
explained, "He turned evolution into a rock anthem. And it's a very
catchy one, too. ... Scott jumps out in your face and grabs your
attention with a musical version of the big concepts. It's great
stuff." Also winning honors were Stephen Anderson's "Evolution in 120
Seconds" (the viewer's choice winner); Maggie Tse, Tony Cheng, and
Stella Chung's "Where Do We Come From? Where Are We Going?" (the
runner-up); Benjamin's "It's ... EVOLUTION"; and Whitney Gray's "Why
Elephants Do Not Have Wings." A member of NCSE, Hatfield is a high
school biology teacher in Fresno, California.

For all five of the videos and further information, visit: 


A live webcast of "Evolution in Extreme Environments" -- a symposium
cosponsored by the American Institute of Biological Sciences and the
National Evolutionary Synthesis Center and held at the National
Association of Biology Teachers conference -- will be available
on-line from 8:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. (Mountain Time) on November 13,
2009. (That's today!)

Cynthia M. Beall will speak on "Human Evolution and Adaptation to
High-altitude"; Steven Haddock will speak on "Life in the Deep Sea:
Only the Fragile Survive"; William R. Jeffrey will speak on "Cavefish:
Evolution in the Dark"; Jody W. Deming will speak on "Arctic Winter
Sea Ice: A Biological Museum or Evolutionary Playground?"; and Kirsten
Fisher, Kristen Jenkins, and Anna Thanukos will lead a teacher
workshop on "Plant Desiccation Tolerance."

Classrooms all over the world will even be able to submit their
questions on-line and have the speakers respond in real time! For
those who aren't able to view the webcast live, all of the talks will
be recorded and placed on NESCent's website for free access after the
conference. The website also will contain supplemental resources,
videos, and links so students and teachers can learn more about
evolution in extreme environments.

For information about the webcast, visit: 

Thanks for reading! And don't forget to visit NCSE's website -- -- where you can always find the latest news on 
evolution education and threats to it.


Glenn Branch
Deputy Director
National Center for Science Education, Inc.
420 40th Street, Suite 2
Oakland, CA 94609-2509
510-601-7203 x310
fax: 510-601-7204

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