Monday, December 5, 2011

#42: Answers to life, the universe and everything

Carnival of Evolution #42 is now up at the Ocelloid: Answers to life, the universe and everything.

Psi Wavefunction (not her real name!) is a recent graduate now working in Indiana, and people like that generally don't have a lot of spare time on their hands, so an extra cheer for getting it done.

Next edition is the killer: January 1st. I'm glad I'm not doing that one. After that edition on The Eeb and Flow we have no more hosts lined up. If you would like to try it, drop me a line...

Sunday, November 27, 2011

Hitchhikers Guide to Evolution?

Finally, finally, finally. We've reached the answer. In a week or so, that is, when it's time for the forty-second (42) Carnival of Evolution, we'll know the ultimate answer to life, the universe, and everything. I do believe that was the question.

So, how about a theme? This edition will be hosted by Psi Wavefunction on The Ocelloid, and I wonder is Psi will bite. Hitchhikers Guide to Evolution?

Well, it just ain't gonna happen without some people submitting some more posts, eh?

Wednesday, November 2, 2011

November edition is up

So, despite voicing concerns that the Carnival of Evolution is in a slump, it was posted on time yesterday, and contains 26 posts. Which is in the lower end (hmm, I'm considering generating some stats on this now), but still more than enough for a blog carnival - if you compare to many other carnivals, e.g. on BlogCarnival, you'll see 26 isn't so bad after all.

This is the hand of Australopithecus sediba [wiki], a 2 million year old fossil. What was the use of this hand? It has been suggested that it was used to handle tools, and thus that this was the reason it came to look like this. And by inference, that our hands evolved for tool use. But is there evidence for this explanation, that there was selection for hands that could handle tools? Ken Weiss argues that there is not, and that an equally good explanation is that they evolved for masturbation.

However, as hypotheses, I still think we can differentiate. Ken admits his hypothesis may appear silly, but explains that there really isn't evidence for either one. So okay, I can also come up with a hypothesis that is even sillier (I surmise that hands evolved as adaptations for sign language*), but some hypotheses are more equal than others, I'd say. Tool used may be a "tired old idea", but it's still a viable one.

* Wait, that may not be so incredibly silly after all...

Monday, October 31, 2011


What's up? Seems to me the number of submissions to CoE is not. This summer we had one edition with 60+ submissions, but last month is was down to less than half that. And it looks like tomorrow's November edition will be the same, because right now I see only 27 posts submitted on, and some of those are spam.

Are people just writing less about evolution these days? Or are bloggers feeling that carnivals matter less than they used to think, so they can't bother submitting? Is creationism winning, with more and more science bloggers avoiding topics in evolution?

I, for one, am blogging less these days, or months, but I have excuses. What about the rest of you? Are you also inundated with teaching, applications, deadlines...? Emotional upheaval? If so, I get it. Otherwise, you can submit right here.

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

Lordy, lordy, look who's forty

The 40th Carnival of Evolution is up today at Kevin Zelnio's blog, EvoEcoLab at Scientific American.

Next month it will be over at EcoDevoEvo aka The Mermaid's Tale. Never too early to submit...

Saturday, September 3, 2011

#39 is up, and some notes on how to improve CoE

September 1st edition of Carnival of Evolution has been up for a couple of days already at The End of the Pier Show - biology editor of Nature Henry Gee's blog.

Despite carnivals going extinct here and there, CoE is doing really well. When I can get my act together, it is really no problem finding hosts; right now all slots are taken through January next year (go here and click on 'future hosts'). And while the number of submissions does vary quite a bit - between the low thirties and to over sixty - there are always plenty for the host and readers to dig into. Probably few people get thought them all, except of course for the host who has to, and that is easily a full days work, if not more. So from here a heartfelt thanks to all past and future hosts, and everyone doing what they can to keep CoE running, whether it be by submissions or by linking on their blog, tweeting, updating their FB status, announcing CoE at conference talks*, making it required reading in college, etc. Thanks!

I'm often thinking about new ways to improve the carnival, both in terms of making each edition better and in terms of increasing the number of readers. It's up to the hosts how to put the CoE together, though suggestions are allowed. If you have good ideas that you'd like to share, you'd be welcome to let us know (comments, email, @carnyevolution #carnyevol). And if you think of new ways to promote CoE, feel free to let us know that too. Right now, when a new edition is up, an email is shot out to the email list, which has some 80 contacts, and then a number of people link to CoE on their blog (though that number is usually not greater than ten or so, which I think is too little). If you have done that, go ahead and put a link to your blog in the comments of that edition, like this. And I tweet (ir)regularly now, so perhaps a few of the current 442 followers find their way to it like that. But I really don't know, as I never get around to asking the hosts to find out how many visitors they get to their edition and how they get there. Except, when Larry Moran hosted last month, he showed me that visits went up an order or magnitude compared to the baseline, which was mostly due to a link on Pharyngula. Oh how I wish PZ would link every month, but alas that is like getting the attention of a celebrity.

Now, go check it out.

* Incidentally, I did this recently, and I got nothing but blank stares from an audience of about 200.

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Call for submissions and Twitter

Next CoE edition, number 39, will be hosted at Henry Gee's blog, End of the Pier Show.

It's time to make sure that you all don't forget to submit one (good) or two (better) posts on evolution to Carnival of Evolution. Use this online form to spread your writings. And note also that it is perfectly legitimate to submit a post written by someone else, so if you read a great post about evolution that you think ought to be shared more widely, don't hesitate to submit it. The author will thank you for it, particularly if you leave a note in the comments that you've done so.

If you can't wait for the monthly Horn of Cornucopia, you might like following the (not always) daily updates on Twitter @CarnyEvolution. In the last few days that has included updates from the 13th congress of the European Society for Evolutionary Biology, #ESEB2011.

Monday, August 1, 2011

CoE #38 at Sandwalk

Carnival of Evolution #38 is just up at Sandwalk. I believe this is the biggest edition we've ever had in the nearly three year history of CoE: 60 posts.

For example, The Cambrian Explosion song:

Can anyone tell me what's up with the "Canada~~~~" int he end?

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Next edition on Sandwalk

The 38th edition of CoE will be on Larry Moran's Sandwalk. Don't forget to submit one (good) or two (better) posts on evolution before August 1st. Larry promises it's going to be a grand edition.

Friday, July 1, 2011

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Submit to next edition, won't you?

With the Evolution 2011 meeting just over, we can all get back to blogging. Coincidentally, the next edition of Carnival of Evolution is just one week away, and what better place to get your writings about the conference promoted?

Okay, Pharyngula would be a better place, but after that?

Okay, after that The Colbert Report might be a better place.

But then, getting the attention of those people is as easy as getting Dembski to admit that he can't actually define specified complexity, so a better option is to submit your posts on evolution to Carnival of Evolution. Next edition will be hosted by William Bell on Lessons of Evolution.

From Williams blog: "I'm thirteen years old and I hope to become an evolutionary biologist but I have diverse interests."

Let's urge him along in the right direction by submitting one (good) or two (better) through this link.

See you at Evolution 2012 in Ottawa.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Some carnival lore

Latest edition of CoE was the thirty sixth. ±1.

Going back to the beginning (can be done here if you click on 'past posts'), you will find that the first edition was the first, and the second the second, and so on, all the way up to the fifth, which was the fourth (later rectified). But then the sixth was the sixth, so all was well for a while. Until the seventh was also the sixth.

But then, if you look at the first sixth, you'll see it wasn't an edition at all, so the seventh really was the sixth. Skipping ahead, the fifteenth was the fourteenth, and rightly so, but then, alas, so was the sixteenth (which no longer exists). However, the seventeenth was the sixteenth, so now all was then in order again. And has been ever since, actually.

Just checking. Nothing to see here. Move along.

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

36th edition is up, already

The 36th Carnival of Evolution is now up at Greg Laden's blog.

Also, if you have any thoughts on what the relevance of blog carnivals are, please see this discussion.

Sunday, May 1, 2011

CoE 35

The thirty fifth Carnival of Evolution is up on Lab Rat.

Friday, April 29, 2011

Carnival relevance?

Recently I have been thinking about the use of blog carnivals. Do they get read by enough people to be considered useful? Do the people who read them actually click through to blog posts they wouldn't have otherwise? Presumably people who read carnivals regularly read a number of blogs regularly, too. So does the carnival add anything for these readers? And what about people who aren't regular readers of featured blogs? Are there any? Do people who don't usually read about the subject matter learn about it through carnivals?

Is there a point in continuing Carnival of Evolution? Sometimes I get the suspicion that readers are a very select group of people who would read these posts about evolution anyway, in which case I don't think the carnival has much to offer. What do you think?

I have been trying to get CoE hosts to think of new ways to spice up the monthly edition, with limited success. And yet I wonder if that makes any difference at all to anybody. Are more people reading more blog posts on evolution due to CoE? That's really the core question, because that would and should be the purpose of the carnival.

I'd like to know what the answers are, and to that end I tam thinking about making a questionnaire and get it featured on the June edition of CoE. However, I often find that such polls end up not really answering the overall question, so I am asking you what those questions should be. If you can think of specific question to ask CoE readers that will get to the relevance of CoE, please post them here or send me an email.

If you have ideas for how to increase the relevance of carnivals, please feel free to share them here as well.

Saturday, April 2, 2011

34th edition...

Just up at Quintessence of Dust.

Thanks to Steve Matheson for hosting.

Anyone interested on hosting an edition this summer?

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

33rd edition on Genome Engineering

We're overwhelmed with posts this month. Suzanne Elvidge has had a lot of reading to do indeed. See the result on her blog Genome Engineering.

Spread the word!

And if you're interested in hosting Carnival of Evolution yourself, email me at

Monday, February 21, 2011

Call for submissions for CoE #33

This is a short month, so here's your reminder to submit posts to the thirty third edition of Carnival of Evolution. Go here to submit one (good) or two (better) posts that you or someone else wrote on a blog about something or other under the rather large umbrella term that evolution is. Do it, or else!

CoE #33 will be hosted on the excellent blog Genome Engineering. If you are interested in writing a very excellent and profound CoE #34 or #35, email me at (replace the @ with [at]).

Tuesday, February 1, 2011

CoE #32: Letter from Darwin

Darwin's birthday is February 12th. Today he writes a letter to his friend Sir Joseph Hooker.
Down. Bromley. Kent.
Febr. 1, 2011

My dear Hooker,

I was grateful for your very kind wishes; and for the book about the Anoles of the West Indes, which I expect I shall read with much enjoyment. The merest thought of an approaching 202nd birthday makes me feel the need for another trip to Malvern; but I do find some relief in my reading, of which I must needs do more every day it seems, only to keep abreast of the latest work. My great-grandson presented me last month with an i-Pad, a charming device; I can now consult the "web-logs" in the garden, when it is pleasant.
Read the whole letter here.

The carnival needs a host for next month's edition. Any volunteers? We prefer bloggers who have contributed but have not yet hosted. Send an email if you're interested in substantially increasing visits to your blog.

Monday, January 24, 2011

You need to straighten your posture and suck in your gut


You need to submit what you write about evolution to the Carnival. Need.

Jeremy Yoder (no relation to Jedi of Oz) is hosting the February edition of CoE (#32), and he is nothing less than desperate for your contributions. See for yourself:
Carnival of Evolution—one week left to submit!
Carnival of Evolution—two weeks left to submit!

And he's right; it is extremely exciting to be the host of CoE - but only if you submit the usual one (good) or two (better) posts through this link.

Would you like to host this March, April or May? We prefer previous contributors who haven't hosted before. If that fits you, and you want a gazillion pageviews, leave a message after the beep.

Follow CoE on Twitter.
Like CoE on Facebook.

With thanks to Cake. Here, have some:

Sunday, January 2, 2011

#31st Carnival of Evolution at The dispersal of Darwin

As we enter the new year blah blah blah, etc. etc., we are pleased to announce that counter all intuition, the 31st edition of our beloved Carnival of Evolution has already been in readiness for well over 24 hours.

Michael Barton is hosting at The Dispersal of Darwin, and there is enough to go around for everyone.

We are still inviting entries to our little logo-competition. To repeat, we are quite happy about the green logo,

but a different one for putting on submitted posts would be great to have, too. More details here.