Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Evolution Education

A new journal titled “Evolution: Education and Outreach” has emerged to promote comprehensive evolutionary understanding and awareness. The latest issue (2:2) can be accessed here. The journal includes the following articles: “A Question of Individuality: Charles Darwin, George Gaylord Simpson and Transitional Fossils” (Eldredge); “The Fish-Tetrapod Transition: New Fossils and Interpretations” (Clack); “Understanding Natural Selection: Essential Concepts and Common Misconceptions” (Gregory); “From Land to Water: the Origin of Whales, Dolphins, and Porpoises” (Thewissen, et al.); and “Evolutionary Transitions in the Fossil Record of Terrestrial Hoofed Mammals” (Prothero), among others.

The particular issue focuses on the fossil record, and the ways in which discoveries since Darwin have shed light on evolution. Despite attempts by creationist authors to discredit evolution on the basis of an “absent” fossil record, the paleontologists in this journal have contributed a wealth of data in support of evolution as evidenced by the fossil record. The paleontological data mostly addresses those fossil groups “targeted by creationists and/or crucial to the idea of ‘macroevolution’” – including the origins of mollusks, echinoderms, chordates, arthropods as well as tetrapods, dinosaurs, birds, marine reptiles, mammals, whales, and hoofed animals.

This journal provides readers with the tools and concrete support to advance sophisticated arguments regarding evolution. Apart from its scientific merits, the journal also possesses aesthetic merits, as it features articles on the culture and epistemological meaning of Darwin. In agreement with author George Levine, Adam Goldstein writes in the journal: Darwin’s content and prose style reveals a “distinctly Darwinian attitude toward nature as a source of meaning and value,” exemplifying a Darwinian “enchantment” with the world.

-Alyssa Martin

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