Major Transitions in Evolution

In 1995, a highly-influential Nature paper was published: The Major Evolutionary Transitions, by Eörs Szathmáry and John Maynard-Smith, who then expanded it to an excellent book. They identified events in which the nature of evolution itself changed. Evolution can be simplified as a combination of mutation, selection, and drift. This …

Could the ‘Cambrian Explosion’ be explained by most multicelluar organisms having been as small as the rotifers before that?

Originally answered by me on Quora.  Here is an interesting thought experiment. Before the answer, here is the detailed question: It seems that rotifers are hardly ever found as fossils: the only finds are more recent than the death of the dinosaurs. But there is little doubt they are a …

My Research: Morphological Evolution of Cypriot Arthropods and its Predictability

An animal’s morphology is determined by many factors, from genetic regulation to cellular migration and tissue growth to the environmental conditions where the embryo is growing, and all these levels are chained together through feedback loops. These alone can explain the differences between snakes and birds and whales and humans and …

What do evolutionary biologists do?

An old Quora answer I wrote got published on the Huffington Post. Because they get more than enough readers, here it is here. Note that the question’s subtitle is: “Once the Darwin’s theory is established, what more is to be found that would be of value?” Darwin’s theory is not …

What are the implications of the Cambrian Explosion for evolutionary biology?

Utility of palaeontology: Without fossils, we would never have even known that there was a Cambrian Radiation and we would have kept on believing that animals originated and diversified 700+ million years ago, as molecular clocks falsely tell us. Also included here is importance of exceptional preservation and understanding the …

Do insects have taste buds?

They don’t have “taste buds” as in vertebrates, but they do have plenty of receptors that allow them to taste. Keep in mind that generally, the taste and smell sensations are tightly-linked in insects (but it varies: bees smell much more than they taste, for example). Note that I’m basing …

How do ants navigate?

For much more information, see my dedicated article on navigation in ants. For long-distance navigation, ants use their eyes – they can see the polarisation patterns produced by star-/sun-/moonlight and use them as compasses. Forest ants, who can’t see the sky, memorise the silhouette of the canopy and make a map …