This is a selection of links, designed to expand your knowledge and interest in the biology of organisms, and their evolutionary history. Increasingly, as biology departments expand their curricula toward cellular and molecular biology and genetics, the biology of organisms gets short-changed. Certainly there are exciting, fundamental, and money-making advances in cellular and molecular biology, but that does not automatically mean that organismal biology is stagnant or uninteresting.
These links are meant for folks interested in paleobiology. There is no academic break between biology and paleobiology, so I have felt it both appropriate and necessary to include a lot of information that has been gathered from living organisms.
This is very much a work in progress, and I make no apologies for shortcomings. If you find portions you don't like, let me know, and tell me how you think I should improve them.
The links are not geared to a textbook, because there is no textbook that I think is satisfactory for covering modern paleobiology. David Raup and Steven Stanley wrote one in the 1970s, but it has not been updated to cover the many new advances in the field in the 1990s. At the moment, this is a set of sections that stand alone. Use them how you like.
How Fast Can Evolution Be?
How Evolution Works
The Game Theory of Evolution
I don't feel that I'm obsessed with sex: but there are some wonderful examples of natural selection and evolution here!
Coevolution: Plants and Pollinators
Specific plant/animal partnerships in pollination
Coevolution: Predators and Prey
Acoels, The Earliest Bilaterian Metazoans?
Some 1999 research suggests not simply flatworms, but acoel flatworms, as the most primitive members of the bilaterian metazoans. Possibly the first metazoans (say, sponge-like or cnidarian-like creatures?) had radial symmetry and did not move much after a larval stage. But the first metazoans that were motile as adults, so began to evolve locomotory systems with appropriate muscles and nerves and sensory systems, were presumably bilateral.
Here is a news article describing the research, with a nice picture of acoels.
The Case of the Cambrian Explosion
Molecular evidence seems to indicate that there was major divergence between metazoan lineages long before the Cambrian.
The Case of the Cenozoic Mammal Radiation
Molecular evidence seems to indicate that there was major divergence between metazoan lineages long before the K-T boundary. However, paleontologists disagree.
NOTE: This news story is poorly written. It was the eutherian mammals that were studied, not placentals. And the issue is the *divergence* into many orders, not the origin, of the eutherians, which clearly have a Cretaceous history.
In 1999, new research showed that in fact, paternal mitochondrial DNA may be passed on occasionally. This affects the assumption that only maternal mtDNA is inherited, and cuts away even more at the concept of a "molecular clock" in mtDNA evolution. Here are two reports:
Some weird and wonderful things that have been selected for survival
Bioluminescence in the Dark
Ecology and Paleoecology
Page last updated January 14, 2002.
Links not checked for a long time.
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