Wednesday, December 31, 2008

Evolutionary Novelties: Faves of 08

As 2008 winds down, I thought I would look back at Evolutionary Novelties and pick some of my favorite posts of the year.

The major theme of this blog is to explore how it's possible that all life has a common origin and still has diversified into the riotous diversity/complexity/disparity that we see today. New features evolve through duplication and recombination (at all levels of biological organization).

1. Box Jellies and the Red Herring of Eye Evolution is one of my favorite posts. The main thesis is that people always ask an inappropriate question "how many times did eyes evolve?". I'd thought about this idea for quite a while, and when a paper came out in PNAS that re-inforced my thesis, I incorporated the new research into the idea.

2. Coming to grips with common descent discusses the idea that during the history of evolution, people have tended to forget that everything evolves from something else. This was not conceived as a blog post, but as a chapter of a book I've toyed around with writing. In some ways, blogging satisfies my urge to write a book, so the book probably won't happen for a long time.

3. Gould: Pluralism by Monism My thesis that Gould was practicing pluralism by taking an opposing stance to the whole field of evolutionary biology. This is perhaps my favorite post of 2008 because I've never seen anyone else with this idea, and the more I think about it the more I think it explains a lot, a general theory of Gould, if you will.

The above are posts that present an idea I've had. I've also recently been writing a few posts on others' research. I find that writing about the work helps me internalize and understand the work. I'm not a rocket-science journalist, but some of the posts have been okay, I think:

4. Evolutionary Novelty: Photosynthetic Slug

5. Evolutionary Novelty: Hair

I also have a series of posts about ostracods, my ostrablogs. I haven't had time to do these for a while, but I do have one half written, so more are coming. My favorites are probably:

6. Ostrablog 5 - Three shows and a funeral retells a story that I've told many, many times in person.

7. Ostrablog 3 - How we discovered chupacabra tells about our discovery of a new ostracod species.

8. Ostra-blog 2 - to e or not to e Ostracod or ostracode?

But much of what I do is promotion of my research and papers, or posting drafts of things I'm writing:

9. Phylogeny, evolution, biodiversity and ecology discusses some research recently published in PNAS. I also noticed this was featured at NESCENT.

10. Opsins: An amazing evolutionary convergence. Slightly expanded from part of an encyclopedia article I was asked to write.

Those are 10 of my favorites from this year. Happy New Year!!

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