Charles Darwin

150 years of On the Origin of Species

Tuesday, November 24th, 2009 | History of Science | 2 Comments

On the Origin of Species

This is my copy of Charles Darwin book On the Origin of Species published 150 years ago today. It is the ugliest-looking book I have in my collection. It doesn’t matter. It is the seventeenth printing of a facsimile of the 1859 original edition that Ernst Mayr, the prominent twentieth century evolutionary biologist, first produced in 1964 to provide mass access to a book that “ushered in a new era in our thinking about the nature of man” (p. vii). › Continue reading


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Charlie Darwin – by The Low Anthem live on Lake Fever Sessions

Tuesday, October 6th, 2009 | Art, Personalities | 1 Comment

Low Anthem “Charle Darwin” from Lake Fever Sessions on Vimeo.

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Nineteenth century figure found to be wrong about something, kind of

Friday, August 21st, 2009 | Comparative Anatomy, History of Science | 1 Comment

appendixI have Google Alerts set for the term “cladistics” so I will receive a feed every time Google indexes that word. Now, in the last couple of days those feeds have catch a story circulating in the news media regarding a recently published study looking at the appendix from a comparative and phylogenetic perspective, pretty cool if you ask me.

I can only access the abstract of the original publication unfortunately, but it does seems to be a well done and thorough study. The problem is the way the report gets increasingly hyped by the news media. I first got this: Evolution of the appendix: A biological ‘remnant’ no more. OK, that’s not bad. I then got this: Appendix redux. Yeah, sure, succinct and clever. But today I got this: Darwin wrongly called the appendix a biological ‘remnant’, say researchers:

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Marketing finally got me

Friday, March 13th, 2009 | Personalities | 4 Comments

Darwin's pencil 01

I resisted the black T-shirt with the bright red “Darwin’s Tree of Life” on sale at the AMNH Darwin exhibit. I resisted the elegant hardcover reissue of the Origin of Species with an introductory essay by E. O. Wilson. I resisted the little metal key-chain with the H.M.S. Beagle. But I couldn’t resist the pencils on sale at the Darwin’s Evolution exhibit presented by the Gulbenkian Foundation.

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Taxonomy’s rightful place in history

Wednesday, March 11th, 2009 | History of Science, Personalities | 5 Comments
A talk given last February 13 by paleontologist Niles Eldredge in Lisbon perfectly exemplified the general opinion regarding how little role Taxonomy played in the development of the modern Theory of Evolution. Already in a hurry after spending too much time talking about Darwin’s childhood, he reached a slide showing some barnacles and said “oh, by the way, Darwin spend some time on the taxonomy of barnacles, but this didn’t have any relevance to the development of his theory”, next slide. That was it. Taxonomy is but an unnecessary extra slide in the history of evolutionary biology. To be fair to Eldredge, his talk entitled “Darwin: Discovering the Tree of Life” was not an specialized talk but rather was meant for the general public of all ages wondering what was all the excitement about Darwin this year.

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Feliz cumpleaños Carlos.

Friday, February 13th, 2009 | Humor, Personalities | 1 Comment


Ever wonder how Charles Darwin gets celebrated the Mexican way? Well, with a piñata of course!

Meet the H.M.S. Beagle piñata.

If you are not familiar with Mexican culture I will just say that beating something with a wooden stick until it bursts into pieces is actually a sign of appreciation. I wasn’t there unfortunately, but I am sure the piñata was filled with exotic fruits and candy.


[Images courtesy of Rodolfo Salas]

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Happy bicentenary Darwin

Thursday, February 12th, 2009 | History of Science, Personalities, Science | Comments Off on Happy bicentenary Darwin


Charles Robert Darwin was born 200 years ago today.

As celebrations start around the globe, I just want to recommend a wonderfully written essay on Darwin by Aussie philosopher of science John S. Wilkins:

Not Saint Darwin [pdf]

It is a piece on why do we celebrate Darwin today that provides food for thought for the rest of Darwin’s year.


Darwin the taxonomist

Friday, February 6th, 2009 | History of Science, Personalities, Taxonomy | Comments Off on Darwin the taxonomist


Everybody likes popular science stories with clear and simple eureka moments. In the case of Charles Darwin’s theory of Evolution his voyage on board the H.M.S. Beagle and exploration of the Galapagos archipelago usually serves for such narrative purpose.

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And as we discussed last semester, the Army Ants will leave nothing but your bones.
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