Dave has cosmic fingerprints

It’s official: http://cosmicfingerprints.com/royal-society-evolution/

If one struggles with the whole piece about that “interesting” Roy Soc meeting back in November, the stuff about me is:

“University of St. Andrews scientist David Shuker challenged Denis Noble, who had described an experiment where scientists deleted flagella genes from bacteria.

These cells had re-generated their flagella genes in just four days and grown new tails. A mind-bending example of real-time, high-speed evolution.

“Clearly natural selection can rapidly steer regulatory networks. This is a beautiful example of high speed Neo-Darwinian evolution,” Shuker argued.

Shuker, like Jerry Coyne, was towing the standard Neo-Darwinian line, which insists that in the end, all comes down to “selection, selection, selection.”

Shuker somehow imagined that “selection” is re-wiring those genes. I don’t know how selection re-wires genes in four days. Selection after all is just survival of the fittest; “selection” doesn’t provide us a single detail about how those genes got rewired.

But in the Neo-Darwinian view, for any cell to evolve purposefully is unthinkable. So of course “natural selection” always ends up being the answer.”

Yeah, how on earth did I imagine that?

Welcome to Vicki

A warm early welcome to Vicki Balfour who will be beginning a PhD in the lab in the autumn. Vicki will be exploring sexual selection in insects. In fact, it is a bit of a welcome back, as Vicki has already worked in the lab, including with an ASAB undergraduate scholarship, the fruits of which – fingers-crossed – will be accepted in Animal Behaviour very shortly.

International Women’s Day

To celebrate International Women’s Day, here is a picture of an inspirational female scientist – Dr Sue Healy – explaining hummingbird behaviour for a Canadian wildlife documentary. (Okay, I may be biased…)

Useful guide to plagiarism

Here is a useful guide for students on plagiarism, first spotted by Christopher Ingraham on Twitter (@_cingraham). Well, an example really. From the current administration in the White House. First, an Exxon Mobil press release, then a White House press release. The plagiarised paragraph is highlighted in yellow.

For our policies on plagiarism, please visit:


I am not sure what policies the WH have in place.