80% Fish

"Missing in Action" background imageIt would appear that the ICR’s That’s a Fact video series also chose to take the last few weeks off, with only one video being posted in my absence – the next one is due next weekend. The now month-old latest video is called Missing in Action and it’s subject – so-called “missing links” – ties in nicely with the catchup post that will appear next.

The term “missing link” is a misleading descriptor, which is unfortunately commonly used in the media when discussing fossils. It invokes the image of a broken chain, now mended, and that’s not how evolution works. The creationist (mis)conception is even worse – the picture above, of what is supposed to be a literal half-dog, half-bear creature, is not some parody of how they misunderstand the idea but instead the main image for this very video. If it comes down to it they probably do know better than that, but they’re not about to give it away in their two-minute “science” videos. Continue reading

Optimisation is not Always Perfection (or Vice Versa)

The Great 2013 Catch-upIn Yeast Survive as They ‘Fail to Optimize’ (10 April 2013) Brian Thomas stumbles upon an important biological truth: what looks better on paper, when considering only a single part of a biological system, can still be bad for the survival of the organism as a whole.

He’s talking about a news article in Nature from February summarising two papers investigating how differing choices in codons that code for the same amino acid can affect the efficiency of the (here, circadian rhythm-related) proteins that they create, one studying a type of fungus and the other a bacterium. Continue reading