03 June 2013

Carnival of Evolution #60: Party like it’s 1953

Ladies and gentlemen, this is a special edition of the Carnival of Evolution. It’s the big six oh!

In honor of that achievement, we shall share this carnival’s space with other events celebrating their sixtieth anniversary.

Trillions and trillions... if viruses were dollars, we’d all be as rich as Richie Rich (debuted 1953). Carl Zimmer brings us the story in Meet Your New Symbionts: Trillions of Viruses.

“Think of the happiest things / It’s the same as having wings...” is what they sing in Peter Pan (Disney version debuted 1953). Birds may beg to differ, having gone to hard way to evolving flight. The feathers on a new dinosaur, Auronis xui are examined at the Pterosaur Heresies.

Evolution can be fast and relentless, like a Chevy Corvette (first built in Flint, Michigan in 1953). If that’s your thing, you need to check this post on Relentless Evolution at The Molecular Ecologist.

Evolution can be fast, like the first plane to hit twice the speed of sound (Mach 2 reached November 1953). The Digital Cuttlefish has the story about how roach bait lost it sweet allure for its intended targets, who now find the traps bitter.

The physics of sound are demanding. Test pilots like Jackie Cochrane (first women to fly past Mach 1) could attest to this. An unassuming moth, like Cochrane, broke a new record in sound this month, with its ability to detect extraordinarily high sound frequencies, covered here at NeuroDojo. (But what’s the selective pressure?)

Look! In the manuscript! Is it a cladogram? Is it a phylogeny? It’s... supertree! No, this is no parody, like Superduperman (appeared in Mad magazine in 1953), but a real method in evolutionary biology. Learn more about the Supertree method at Teaching Biology.

Sometimes, the ruthless anti-hero James Bond (who first appeared in Casino Royale in 1953) is described as a bit of an animal. This means he has tight junctions and radial cleavage. (I saw lots of cleavage in the Bond stories, but not like that...) At least, that’s what Teaching Biology tells us in the examination of what it means to be an animal.

In 1953, Russell and Monroe proclaimed that gentlemen prefer blondes. However, being brunette might be better indicators of fitness, given that dark pigments are costly to produce. At least, that’s the case in for dark colour in crickets, covered here at NeuroDojo.

Many considered the first issue of Playboy magazine a scourge (released December 1953), but let’s face it, a magazine is an amateur scourge compared to the blight that destroyed the potato crops of Ireland, leaving the Irish with nothing to eat. John Hawks covers some recent work on the potato pathogen at John Hawks’ weblog.

In 1953, you could get over 70% of American households turning into watch one television show, like I Love Lucy. Mass media was here! Today, there are all kinds of media, including the pervasive podcast! Neuroanthropology tells us about a recent Neuroanthropology podcast that answers such pressing questions as, “What is it and why should I care?”

For those with a taste for live performance, Broadway say the debut of Arthur Miller’s The Crucible in 1953. The Galápagos Islands have sometimes been called a crucible of evolution for all the wonderful organisms that have invaded and adapted to those hard specks of land in the ocean. Many biologists want to go there, and Eco-evolutionary Dynamics got the chance and describes the trip to the Galápagos for us.

It has not escaped our notice that the announcement of DNA structure occurred in 1953 as a trio of papers in Nature, which ultimately led to the proliferation of modern molecular techniques so widely used in evolutionary biology today. For instance, gene expression is used to examine the evolution of the eyes of cave bugs, covered here at NeuroDojo.

Elizabeth II was crowned in 1953, and became the first Queen of Canada, which matters to Canadians like myself and T. Ryan Gregory. The debate over whether the monarchy is superfluous invites almost as much controversy as whether large swathes of DNA are also superfluous. Ryan examines genome reduction in the context of ongoing “junk DNA” debates at Genomicron.

Viruses were big news in 1953, particularly with the announcement of the polio vaccine. Viruses are central figures in this Story behind the paper at The Tree of Life. It’s largely about snot... or, to use the technical term, mucus.

Another evolutionary controversy... one might even say a war (though not an interplanetary war, like the one depicted in George Pal’s classic telling of War of the Worlds) concerns group selection. David Sloan Wilson has been a long-time proponent of the idea. Evolving Economics examines Wilson’s paper on intentional change.

Speaking of worlds, in the World Series of baseball, the New York Yankees were on an incredible winning streak. They won their fifth world series in a row in 1953. Did modern humans have a similar winning streak against our Neanderthal relatives? Trapped by the Box investigates the possible role of culture in the eventual extinction of the Neanderthal lineage.

And for the big finale, the pinnacle, the Everest, as it were (which was first climbed in 1953 by Hillary and Norgay), we have God and Evolution, the conclusion from John Wilkins at Evolving Thoughts.

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Want more 1953? Here is more and more and more!

What...? Sixty installments for the Carnival of Evolution, not sixty years?

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