In With the Old

i-5f5a9e6c4788dd04817f9562463ff1b6-dinoman.jpgShakespeare wrote that “past is prologue,” but it’s not always that easy to read. Brian Switek on Laelaps tells the tale of P. H. Gosse, a man who tried to reconcile the fossil record with the Book of Genesis, at the same time Darwin was writing his Origin of Species. Convincing no one, Gosse estranged even the faithful with his image of God as “a trickster who planted gags to fool geologists.” But given the ample evidence that dinosaurs were once alive, the debate continues: were they warm-blooded? On Not Exactly Rocket Science, Ed Yong shows us a new study which says yes, based on the “hip heights of 13 species of dinosaur including Tyrannosaurus, Velociraptor and Archaeopteryx.” Finally, in the realm of sheer speculation, Richard Dawkins has thrown some weight behind the what-if evolutionary concept of a “humanoid dinosaur.” As Darren Naish writes on Tetrapod Zoology, “our body shape clearly works well for an intelligent, tool-using, sentient animal, but where is the convincing evidence that it is the only possible body shape for such a creature?”

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Believe It or Not

i-2a3fa094858972d2fdacc1af837b5f04-lion.jpgHumans believe a lot of things, for a lot of reasons. Confronted by a student who had learned lions’ manes are an expression of their testosterone level–and not just a bit of claw-catching fluff–Greg Laden observes that when someone finds you wrong on one count, they will assume you are wrong about everything. He calls this “a known feature of student thinking in early development,” a true-or-false mentality which sooner or later must reconcile itself with the complexity of our universe. Elsewhere, Razib Khan theorizes on Gene Expression that organized religion arose to meet the needs of our agricultural ancestors. He says that over the last 200 years, industrialization has allowed Westerners to achieve income equity more reminiscent of hunter-gatherer societies, resulting in the “unwinding” of institutional and interpersonal hegemonies. Finally, Eric Michael Johnson in The Primate Diaries explores different kinds of human reciprocity, from ritual gift-giving to organ transplant.

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