Michael J. Behe A (R)evolutionary Biologist

Evolutionary theory


A Blind Man Carrying a Legless Man Can Safely Cross the Street

I never thought it would happen but, in my estimation, Richard Lenski has acquired a challenger for the title of “Best Experimental Evolutionary Scientist.” Lenski, of course, is the well-known fellow who has been growing E. coli in his lab at Michigan State for 50,000 generations in order to follow its evolutionary progress. His rival is Joseph Thornton of the University of Oregon who, by inferring the sequences of ancient proteins and then constructing (he calls it “resurrecting”) their genes in his lab, is able to characterize the properties of the ancestral proteins and discern how they may have evolved into more modern versions with different properties. I have written appreciatively about both Lenski and Thornton before, whose work indicates Read More ›

3d rendering of Human cell or Embryonic stem cell microscope background.
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More from Jerry Coyne

At his blog (http://tinyurl.com/2cyetm7) University of Chicago professor of evolutionary biology Jerry Coyne has commented on my reply (http://tinyurl.com/383zqm7) to his analysis ((http://tinyurl.com/2fjenlt) of my new review (http://tinyurl.com/25c422s) in the Quarterly Review of Biology. This time he has involved two other prominent scientists in the conversation. I’ll discuss the comments of one of them in this post and the other in a second post. The first one is University of Texas professor of molecular biology James J. Bull, who works on the laboratory evolution of bacterial viruses (phages). I reviewed a number of Bull’s fascinating papers in the recent QRB publication. Coyne solicited Prof. Bull’s comments and put them up on his blog (http://tinyurl.com/2cyetm7). Bull says several nice things about Read More ›

Scientist holding PCR tube put into PCR machine
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Multiple Mutations Needed for E. Coli

Dear Readers, An interesting paper has just appeared in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, “Historical contingency and the evolution of a key innovation in an experimental population of Escherichia coli.” (1) It is the “inaugural article” of Richard Lenski, who was recently elected to the National Academy. Lenski, of course, is well known for conducting the longest, most detailed “lab evolution” experiment in history, growing the bacterium E. coli continuously for about twenty years in his Michigan State lab. For the fast-growing bug, that’s over 40,000 generations! I discuss Lenski’s fascinating work in Chapter 7 of The Edge of Evolution, pointing out that all of the beneficial mutations identified from the studies so far seem to have been degradative ones, where functioning genes are knocked out or Read More ›

Doodle Science vector illustration . Biology and Biotechnology set. Hand Sketches on the theme of Zoology, Botany, Anatomy on white background.
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Response to Ian Musgrave’s “Open Letter to Dr. Michael Behe,” Part 1

This is the first of five posts in which I reply to Professor Ian Musgrave’s “Open Letter to Dr. Michael Behe” on the Panda’s Thumb blog. Musgrave: Dear Dr. Behe I have recently read your response to Abbie Smith’s article on the HIV-1 protein VPU. Ms Smith showed how Vpu’s recently evolved viroporin activity directly contradicts your statement that HIV has evolved no new biding sites since it entered humans (Edge of Evolution, page 143 and figure 7.4, page 144 ). I was greatly disappointed in your response. I must admit to having a special involvement in this case. Firstly, I drew the illustrations for Ms Smith’s article, and its follow up. But secondly, as a member of my professional Read More ›

blue sunrise, view of earth from space
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Response to Critics, Part 3: Michael Ruse

Dear Readers, Today I give you one last response for now, to Michael Ruse’s review of Edge of Evolution. After more reviews are in, I’ll compose a comprehensive response. I leave you with this for now. Michael Ruse in The Globe and Mail Michael Ruse is a philosopher of biology who has written over a dozen books on aspects of Darwinian thought. In his review of The Edge of Evolution he says a few kind words about me personally, and I will return the compliment. I like Michael Ruse and have always enjoyed our interactions (well, with one exception that I won’t mention). He is generally an amusing, fun fellow. Yet he is unwilling or unable to engage my arguments. He spends the Read More ›