Bjørn Østman

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  • November 10, 2009
  • 04:09 PM

B:III evidence for evolution (which is just a theory)

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Having trouble with your eyes? Well, then, let me have a look at it, because I have read stuff about eyes. I'll be prescribing glasses. Contact lenses don't work, because I don't understand how they can be made, so don't wear those. Got worms in your eyeball? Let me get a knife...... Read more »

William E. Smiddy. (2009) Evolution: Theory, Not Fact. ARCH OPHTHALMOL, 127(11), 1552-1553. info:/

  • October 14, 2009
  • 02:19 AM

Genomic obesity

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

You don't usually think of plants as being fat, but they do really have an issue - at least on the genomic scale. Their genomes can be huge.

They expand their genome size with the help of transposable elements - sequences of DNA that copy and insert themselves somewhere else in the genome.... Read more »

Hawkins JS, Proulx SR, Rapp RA, & Wendel JF. (2009) Rapid DNA loss as a counterbalance to genome expansion through retrotransposon proliferation in plants. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America. PMID: 19815511  

  • August 23, 2009
  • 05:00 AM

Darwin was wrong about the human appendix being vestigial

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

"Ever since Darwin"™ it has been thought that the human vermiform appendix doesn't serve a function any more, but that the function was lost, and the remnant lingers on - something that is easily explained by evolution, but not so easily explained by creationism.

Then a research team from Duke University came along and changed all that.... Read more »

Randal Bollinger, R., Barbas, A., Bush, E., Lin, S., & Parker, W. (2007) Biofilms in the large bowel suggest an apparent function of the human vermiform appendix. Journal of Theoretical Biology, 249(4), 826-831. DOI: 10.1016/j.jtbi.2007.08.032  

Smith HF, Fisher RE, Everett ML, Thomas AD, Randal Bollinger R, & Parker W. (2009) Comparative anatomy and phylogenetic distribution of the mammalian cecal appendix. Journal of evolutionary biology. PMID: 19678866  

  • August 18, 2009
  • 04:35 PM

Cladistics does not resolve hobbit controversy

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Homo floresiensis (nicknamed "the hobbit") is the name given to a hominin species whose remains were discovered in 2004 on the island of Flores, Indonesia. But do the bones represent a new species at all, or were they, mundanely, anatomically modern humans with some pathological disorder that caused them to have smaller brains (~400 cc) and be shorter (106 cm) than humans (~1130 cc and 147 cm, average for women and indonesian women, respectively)?... Read more »

Argue D, Morwood M, Sutikna T, Jatmiko, & Saptomo W. (2009) Homo floresiensis: A cladistic analysis. Journal of human evolution. PMID: 19628252  

  • August 17, 2009
  • 04:15 PM

Bottle feeding simulates child loss

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Bottle feeding practices and hospital procedures that simulate child loss may increase the risk of postpartum depression and fall within a growing number of medical issues that could benefit from an evolutionary perspective.... Read more »

  • August 6, 2009
  • 11:17 PM

Darwin's theory can handle the landscape

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Cue the fitness landscape. A multi-dimensional function for organism fitness (ability to reproduce) as a function of the genotype*. A population moves "uphill" when it can to maximize fitness, akin to physical systems, which always moves to minimize its energy.... Read more »

Weissman DB, Desai MM, Fisher DS, & Feldman MW. (2009) The rate at which asexual populations cross fitness valleys. Theoretical population biology, 75(4), 286-300. PMID: 19285994  

  • July 30, 2009
  • 04:53 AM

Organic foods aren't more nutritious

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

So if you purchase organically grown food (crops and meat) because you think they are more nutritious, then you might be disappointed to learn that there is no evidence that it is.In a huge survey of the literature on organic food from the last 50 years, the overall message is that no difference in nutritional value is to be found between organically and conventionally grown foods. [1] (By the ... Read more »

  • June 17, 2009
  • 07:31 PM

Orangutans to replace chimpanzees as our closest relative?

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

New evidence that the closest living relative of humans is the orangutan, and not the chimpanzee.... Read more »

  • June 17, 2009
  • 05:21 PM

Homosexuality is not a choice

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

What are the causes of homosexual behavior in animals? Contrary to what most people probably think, homosexual behavior is not just common in animals, it is catholic.

A new paper in TREE has gotten a lot of press (most papers on sex do, I suspect): Same-sex sexual behavior and evolution, by Bailey and Zuk at UC Riverside.... Read more »

  • April 23, 2009
  • 09:00 AM

Evolution-proof malaria control

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

In treating malaria it is crucial to understand evolutionary dynamics. The problem with insecticides such as DDT is that it kills mosquitos (Anopheles) almost immediately after contact, and thus imposes very strong selection for resistance against the insecticide. The mosquitos evolve resistance within a few years, rendering the whole population immune and the insecticide worthless.... Read more »

  • April 2, 2009
  • 01:20 AM

Amazonian tribe is from another planet

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

A society so strange it changes what it means to be human. A culture so foreign that the ways which we know ourselves are altered. I no longer need to invoke aliens coming to Earth to imagine how one culture might find another extraterrestrial. The Pirahã will do.... Read more »

  • March 25, 2009
  • 04:36 AM

Darwinian security

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Many times have I read opponents of evolutionary theory argue that it is good for nothing. They apply a very utilitarian view of science, in which science must serve a purpose beyond mere understanding. And this, they posit, evolutionary theory does not provide. A fairy tale for grown-ups. Not even science, but a religion. That's blatantly false, though. Yes, the main benefit to humankind is that evolutionary theory explains where we come from - and if that's not important, please do tell me why........ Read more »

  • March 18, 2009
  • 03:55 PM

Is this a new feathered dinosaur?

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Tianyulong confuciusi is a heterodontosaurid dinosaur, which lived in the Early Cretaceous period (144–99 million years ago). The holotype was unearthed in Liaoning Province, China, and is about is about 70 cm long, with a cranium that is 6 cm long.... Read more »

  • March 10, 2009
  • 01:00 AM

Chimpanzee plans for the future

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Santino is a thirty year old male chimpanzee at Furuvik Zoo in Sweden. For the last decade he has been collecting stones before the zoo opens, stashing them in around his enclosure, and then when the visitors arrive, has been throwing the rocks at them - though, thankfully, he apparently has a poor aim.... Read more »

  • February 18, 2009
  • 01:00 AM

Plants are officially boring

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

This fantastic paper finally proves that plants are boring and animals are exciting. At least in the eyes of men.... Read more »

  • January 30, 2009
  • 01:00 AM

Finger lengths predict stockbrokers' success

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Longer ring fingers predict how well stockbrokers do at trading in fast-paced high-risk markets.... Read more »

J. M. Coates, M. Gurnell, & A. Rustichini. (2009) Second-to-fourth digit ratio predicts success among high-frequency financial traders. Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, 106(2), 623-628. DOI: 10.1073/pnas.0810907106  

  • January 27, 2009
  • 01:00 AM

Contact with hobbits simplified languages?

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Languages simplify only in contact with non-native speakers. Perhaps this happened when humans interacted with hobbits?... Read more »

John McWhorter. (2008) Why does a language undress? Strange cases in Indonesia. Miestamo, Matti, Kaius Sinnemäki and Fred Karlsson (eds.), Language Complexity: Typology, contact, change. 2008. xiv, 356 pp., 167-190.

Tabitha M. Powledge. (2006) What Is the Hobbit?. PLoS Biology, 4(12). DOI: 10.1371/journal.pbio.0040440  

  • January 20, 2009
  • 01:00 AM

Evolution does mean better and more complex

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

The American Society of Human Genetics has a quick little quiz on evolution. Unfortunately they get one question wrong about 'evolution' implying 'better' and 'more complex'.... Read more »

Claus O. Wilke, Jia Lan Wang, Charles Ofria, Richard E. Lenski, & Christoph Adami. (2001) Evolution of digital organisms at high mutation rates leads to survival of the flattest. Nature, 412(6844), 331-333. DOI: 10.1038/35085569  

Christoph Adami. (2002) What is complexity?. BioEssays, 24(12), 1085-1094. DOI: 10.1002/bies.10192  

  • January 18, 2009
  • 01:00 AM

Wealthy men's women have more orgasms

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

If your man is rich you'll have a higher frequency of orgasms. At least if you're Chinese (not including Tibet and Hong Kong). Why is this interesting at all, except that it's about sex, which human find interesting in a of itself? Well, because we have no idea why women have orgasms in the first place. It pretty clear why, and notably when, men have orgasms, but no one really knows why women have them.Male income and height are were included to measure male quality, because both parameters have........ Read more »

  • December 29, 2008
  • 01:00 AM

Go on, marry your cousin

by Bjørn Østman in Pleiotropy

Not that I was ever thinking about it, but should I marry my cousin? Should anyone? Is it such a bad idea that there should be laws against it? You may not know that there are laws prohibiting first cousins from marrying in most US states. In this picture the white colored states are the ones that do not.... Read more »

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