Wolves and Thylacines

A very interesting paper has come out in Communications Biology and been reported on in a Phys.org article regarding the similarity between wolves and thylacines (better known as Tasmanian tigers). In the new paper, the authors looked at skull similarities between wolves and thylacine pups. The pups were remarkably similar, despite being essentially unrelated evolutionarily. Let’s have a look at this article, then get into some of the implications for fossil phylogenetics.

Consensus and Science

A recent paper summary from Science Daily got me thinking about what role consensus should play in science. The article was titled “Astronomers agree: Universe is nearly 14 billion years old.” My immediate thought was: “That’s not true. I can name half a dozen creationist astronomers off the top of my head (Jason Lisle, Danny Faulkner, John Hartnett, Russel Humphries, Ron Samec, Spike Psarris, Robert Hill etc) who do not accept that age. The title should start with “Most astronomers” but it clearly doesn’t. So what is going on here? The title is an attempt to convince the public that there is no debate, everyone agrees, and whatever you’ve heard or read is untrue. It’s very much an appeal to majority fallacy.

Domestication of Animals

A very interesting story appeared in New Scientist recently regarding the domestication of dogs. We’re going to take a look at that story today, as well as the broader topic of animal domestication as that is something we’ve never touched on before and it had tangential bearing on the flood and its aftermath. With all that in mind, let’s look at what New Scientist tells us.

Inbreeding Depression

Inbreeding depression is a very strong danger to small populations. As relatives with
similar DNA interbreed, more and more deleterious mutations begin to be expressed,
effectively crippling the population, and often driving it to extinction. However, small
populations are often unable to avoid inbreeding, meaning other mechanisms must be
employed to counter its destructive effect.