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.