Evolution: Is There A Controversy?

evolution-is-there-a-controversy-evoliteracy

“…Scientific research –not catchphrases– informs us that the evolution controversy in society is a cancerous zombie, difficult to eradicate. And outcomes of the last elections warn us that assaults on science will metastasize in the United States. Not because researchers ‘do not see’ or ‘do see’ a controversy in the science of evolution, or climate change, or the dark fate of our sun. They have no doubt these are realities. But because unrests resurface in communities whenever we have irreconcilable differences around fiction versus facts. And yes, there is a profound conflict between Faith and Science, intrinsic to their fundamental incompatibility…”

By Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C  &  Avelina Espinosa

The new strategy among the pro-faith-in-evolution supporters (i.e. theistic evolution, creation science, evolutionary creation, BioLogos, or the Creator-Designer-and-Darwin-in -the-same-sleeping-bag) is to spread the slogan “there is no controversy about evolution” with the purpose to persuade the religious public that evolution is real, and that there is no scientific doubt about it, period. The latter is true.

It is also true that after a memorable judgment, in 2005, when Intelligent Design lost in court (Dover, Pennsylvania, Kitzmiller et al. versus Dover School District et al. 2005) for violating the rules of science by “invoking and permitting supernatural causation” in matters of evolution, and for “failing to gain acceptance in the scientific community,” the opportunistic idea to “teach the controversy” over evolution in the science class gained track.

The vested interest was to publicize that there was a “scientific disagreement” over evolution (note that this view was a fabrication, since most of today’s scientists take evolution for granted), and that students ought to be exposed to the “dispute” to secure good schooling. By “teaching the controversy,” designers aimed at injecting creationism into the mix.

“…The sinister drive was to keep the Creator-Designer in the classroom. Of course this was –still is– a controversy, political and ideological.”

Thus, the slogan “there is no controversy about evolution” emerged in response to the proposal to “teach the controversy,” which, in turn, insinuated that modern scientists questioned the authenticity of evolution. The sinister drive was to keep the Creator-Designer in the classroom. Of course this was –still is– a controversy, political and ideological (see facts about the debate).

The sensu stricto scientific controversy between evolution by means of natural selection, as per Charles Darwin, 1859, and the views of the religious-naturalists of his time (Richard Owen, Adam Sedgwick, John Stevens Henslow, among others) is a fact in history (see also the timeline of the creation-evolution controversy 1650s-2000s). By all epistemology principles, this was a confrontation between Darwin’s naturalistic explanations of how species originated and differentiated over time, versus the core conviction of the Victorian scientific establishment: God, the Creator of nature, its laws and mechanisms.

In consequence, the refurbished slogan “there is no controversy” is, for the most part, a wishful tactic to redirect the “rejection of evolution” back at the “rejectors” themselves, under the premise that –in their minds– the “notion of controversy” enhances the very dismissal of evolution. It is a circular, cosmetic reasoning, with little empirical support, but memed in the social media with enthusiasm.

Now, the contemporary academic topic “evolution controversy” (arguably traceable to the Twentieth Century, 1920s onwards) has never been about any sort of “hypothetical rejection” or “acceptance” of evolution by credible researchers (the spectacular majority of them know evolution happens, contrary to Darwin’s generation), rather, it has been –at least in the United States– about the phenomenon of societal dismissal of science/evolution on the grounds of religious beliefs and conservative political ideology. All sound conceptual studies demonstrate this (e.g. A, B, C, D).

The storm has been about, for example, the support to anti-evolution legislation by lawmakers and their constituents; the low acceptance of evolution by the misinformed general public, and by educators at all levels, who teach creationism because they fear embracing proper science (E, F); and, ultimately, the persistence of ignorance despite the extensive access to knowledge. “That” is –it has been as per chronology– “the controversy.”

“…Imagine asserting that there is no societal controversy concerning ‘alternative facts’ versus facts…” 

Here is some food for thought. Imagine asserting that there is no –societal– controversy concerning: climate-change deniers and their opposition to data-based projections of extreme weather fluctuations; or about “alternative facts” versus facts; or homeopathic and chiropractic cures versus scientific medicine; or antivaxxers versus proven herd-immunity effects; or faith healing versus surgical oncology; or anti-GMOs versus no-negative-health-effects-scientifically-attributable-to-GMOs; or pray-sex-health/abstinence versus unwanted pregnancies and sexually-transmitted-diseases… just because –allegedly– no serious scientist gives a damn about the “beliefs in non-facts” by those who worship imagination.

bill-nye-vs-ken-ham-debate-2014In 2014, public educator Bill Nye debated creationist Ken Ham over the legitimacy of evolution. The encounter itself was controversial, it took place at the Creation Museum in Kentucky. Opponents to the match argued that, by debating, Nye would grant notoriety to Ham’s Museum and the Young-Earth-Creationism agenda. The ‘Science Guy’ defeated Ham at the debate, but it is true that private donations poured in to support the exhibits after the televised event. Currently, the Museum struggles financially and faces sharp criticism by the scientific community.

“…evolution, the ‘E’ word… and E-correctness…”

Since the sticky slogan proclaims “there is no controversy,” it is worth asking: are the science education surrogates expected to put aside the “yuge” societal clash between anti-science and science, or between superstition and empirical reality, and equate them to a minor disagreement, a stone in the shoe?

Like evolution, which continues to occur despite our level of understanding or acceptance of it, the societal controversies are factual and must be addressed as such under reason and science principles, not under the hope that, if we concur to post-like-and-share the catchphrase “there is no controversy about _blank_”, we will make the problem –or part of it– go away. And that is the fallacy of slogans coined to go viral regardless of their silliness. Self deception never pays.

“…any ‘acceptor’ of evolution who believes that God was involved –somehow– in the Creation of the universe, or its laws, is a creationist in principle…”

Is the next step to call evolution the “E-word” so that we rarely use it and, therefore, avoid offending someone? To be E-correct so that our students and public love us as educators, at the same time that we smuggle pseudo-science subliminally into their souls via “teaching techniques“? Or, worse, is the companion, accommodating agenda (to the catchphrase) to force-marry Darwin with Faith to secure that believers accept His message?

Creationism and its disciples come in a range of flavors, from Young Earth Biblical Creationists to Design Creationists, and to any position in which the Creator shows up, even vaguely, in the background of causality (i.e. theistic evolution, creation science, evolutionary creation, BioLogos; links above). In other words, any “acceptor” of evolution who believes that God was involved –somehow– in the Creation of the universe, or its laws, is a creationist in principle. And all morphs of creationism are destined to fail because they merge, deceptively, desire with veracity.

“…as for the fortune of the slogan, trash it…”

Scientific research –not mottos– informs us that the evolution controversy in society is a cancerous zombie, difficult to eradicate. And outcomes of the last elections warn us that assaults on science will metastasize in the United States. Not because researchers “do not see” or “do see” a controversy in the science of evolution, or climate change, or the dark fate of our sun. They have no doubt these are realities. But because unrests resurface in communities whenever we have irreconcilable differences around fiction versus facts. And yes, there is a profound conflict between Faith and Science, intrinsic to their fundamental incompatibility.

As for the fortune of the slogan, let us close by being both historically and E-correct: trash the slogan. — EvoLiteracy © 2017.

G. Paz-y-Miño-C and A. Espinosa are authors of Measuring the Evolution Controversy (2016), Evolution Controversy: A Phenomenon Prompted by the Incompatibility between Science and Religious Beliefs (2015), The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation (2014), The Everlasting Conflict Evolution-and-Science versus Religiosity (2013), Why People Do Not Accept Evolution (2012). For access to their studies (PDFs) go to GPC and AE.

clarence-darrow-william-jennings-bryan-scopes-trial-evoliteracyPHOTOClarence Darrow and William Jennings Bryan during the Scopes Trial (i.e. The State of Tennessee v. John Thomas Scopes 1925) in Dayton, Tennessee. At the Scopes “Monkey” Trial, teacher John T. Scopes was accused of violating the TN’s Butler Act, which considered it illegal to teach human evolution in the state’s public schools. The Scopes Trial is iconic in the history of America’s evolution controversy.

 

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

Related Articles

Evolution and the Upcoming Challenges of a Predictable Landscape

Bill Nye defeats Ken Ham at Creation Museum

Evolution Wars: Debunk II

The Incompatibility Hypothesis: Evolution vs. Supernatural Causation

The World Celebrates Darwin Day

celebrate-charles-darwin

Today, February 12, the world celebrates the life and legacy of Charles R. Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882). Here, at Evolution Literacy, I would like to share with our readers articles and images previously posted, which have been well received and further disseminated by our colleagues, friends and followers. Don’t forget to observe Darwin Day. — GPC

Darwin Day Awaits Designation by US Congress

Darwin Day… signifies the celebration of the achievements of reason, science, and the advancement of human knowledge. The igniting moments in human history when light was brought into our own origins, when understanding that ordinary apes, like Homo, were capable of the extraordinary, of discovering the truth and debunking obscurantism; yet we still struggle to make science the sole guiding star in our survival decisions, the reliable source of concern and joy, the toolkit to plan our departure from Earth –before our Sun in agonizing heat engulfs its nearest orbiting planets– and seek home somewhere else in the cosmos. Read FULL article at Darwin Day Awaits Designation.

At The Down House: Darwin’s Home

I visited the Down House, Darwin’s Home, in July 2010. Here are a few pictures I wanted to share in celebration of the International Darwin Day, February 12. Prior to visiting the Down House, which is located just a few miles South East of London, I went to Canterbury, Kent, to attend the International Society of Protistologists (ISoP) annual meeting, at the University of Kent. Coincidentally, back in 1991, as an undergraduate student, I obtained a Diploma in Endangered Species Management from the University of Kent, which offered such certification in partnership with the Jersey Wildlife Preservation Trust (nowadays Durrell Wildlife Conservation Trust). Read FULL article at Darwin’s Home.

Darwin’s Skepticism about God

i-think-by-charles-darwinThis is one of our most read articles at EvoLiteracy — The yearly celebration of International Darwin Day (February 12) is approaching. Here are some of Darwin’s writings, which reveal how skeptical he became –with age and wisdom– about the existence of God. Despite this historical evidence, the pro-religion-in-science crowds, or para-creationists (i.e. theistic evolution, creation science, evolutionary creation), continue to mislead the public by spreading the meme that Darwin was, deep in his soul, a religious naturalist. And that is false. In 1879, Darwin wrote: “…an Agnostic would be the more correct description of my state of mind.” But read below what else Darwin wrote about The Old and New Testaments, Christianity and God in his Autobiography and later documents. Read FULL article at Darwin’s Skepticism.

Are Women Generally more Religious than Men? Does it Matter?

Yes, women worldwide are, overall, more religious than men. Yesterday, the Pew Research Center released another update to its frequent reports on religion (The Gender Gap in Religion Around the World), which I shared on Facebook. It includes useful maps and descriptive statistics, however, here I summarize only the numeric trends and leave the maps aside (they are didactic). Readers can find the complete report online, as well as the figures and web-links. But first, why do we care at EvoLiteracy News about this topic? One of the reasons (not the only one) is that acceptance of evolution is negatively associated with level of religiosity, as we (and other researchers) have demonstrated in numerous studies. Therefore, the Pew Research report would imply that women, worldwide, accept evolution less than men. But this is –of course– something not addressed by the Pew Research Center in this particular study (see such differences here). Instead the report focuses on speculating about why the gender gap in religious commitment exists, and it does demonstrate that, by just joining the workforce, women become less religious (voilà) –although the gender gap remains. The report, however, disregards the historical oppressive role of religion on all peoples, particularly women. Read FULL article at Are Women More Religious?

The Art Of Nature: Sculptures Of Dinosaur Tracks and Traces

“…Edward Hitchcock’s collection of fossilized tracks and traces of dinosaurs is one of the largest in the world and the Beneski Museum of Natural History exhibits them as fine art, carved by nature… Under soft lighting, a saturation of textures emerges from or deepens into the flat rocks. The 200-million-year-old footprints are so exquisite…” Read FULL article at Beneski Museum.

Hiking among Trilobites, Ancient Whales and Dinosaurs

I have previously stated that to be reassured that evolution is true one simply needs to visit the New Bedford Whaling Museum. Its displays of skeletons of a North Atlantic right whale with a calf, a humpback, a juvenile blue, and a sperm whale can impress anyone curious to compare human bones to those of cetaceans. And such comparison suffices to infer that common ancestry connects mammalian sea gallopers — whales and dolphins — to us, the upright bipedal apes who live in cities and launch vessels to explore the stars. Read FULL article at Hiking among Trilobites.

i-think-by-charles-darwin-1837-sketch-evoliteracyI think — Case must be that one generation then should be as many living as now. To do this & to have many species in same genus (as is) requires extinction. — Thus between A & B immense gap of relation. C & B the finest gradation, B & D rather greater distinction. Thus genera would be formed. – bearing relation — Charles Darwin’s Notebook B, 1837

Science Challenges Golden Age of Violin Making

Unsubstantiated beliefs interfere with the acceptance of evidence. Belief is a powerful cultural pollutant: it disrupts, distorts, delays and stops the assessment of reality, what I call in my academic work “the 3Ds + S cognitive effects of illusory thinking.” Indeed, I explore, at a scientific level, why people struggle when confronting inner beliefs with facts, and for that I examine acceptance of evolution by highly educated audiences —university professors, educators of prospective teachers, and college students at elite institutions, who, despite their fine education, embrace distinctive degrees of superstition. Read FULL article at Golden Age Violins.

Measuring the Evolution Controversy

The reality of evolution is indisputable and, based on current scientific evidence, all people in the world should accept it. Yet, only 41% of adults worldwide embrace evolution, and they do it under the premise that a deity created humans. One in every three people are strict creationists who believe in religious scriptures concerning the origin of our universe and of humans, and explicitly reject that Homo sapiens is an ape —when, in fact, science informs us that humans’ closest relatives are chimpanzees, bonobos, gorillas and orangutans. Indeed, we are all apes. Read FULL article at Evolution Controversy.

Nobel Prize in Chemistry Goes to Curiosity-Based Research

If completely stretched into a single, long molecular chain, the DNA of a human cell would measure about two meters. During our lifetimes, our bodies would replicate enough DNA that, theoretically, it could be extended from Earth to the Sun, and back, 250 times. Ample opportunities to accumulate 37 trillion mutations while re-copying the genetic material. Read FULL article at Nobel Prize in Chemistry.

Evolution and the Upcoming Challenges of a Predictable Landscape

darwin-on-the-argument-for-designIn Chapter Nine of Measuring the Evolution Controversy, we ask: what will be the societal setting in which science/evolution and religion interact in the future? Early in the narrative of the book, before addressing this question, we remark that societal interactions between science and ideology are intricate, and subject to public policy, law, and abrupt socio-economic change. In addition, we sketch a probable world socio-cultural environment —based on statistical demographic projections— in which acceptance of science and evolution could take place in the future. By the 2050s or 2060s, we argue, the world societal dynamics will be quite different in respect to today’s, particularly in four relevant landscapes associated with attitudes toward science and evolution: distribution of wealth, education, migration, and demographics of religious groups. Read FULL article at The Future of Acceptance of Evolution. — EvoLiteracy © 2017.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

Happy 2017 friends, colleagues and followers of EvoLiteracy

evolution-literacy-2017-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c

Visitors to EvoLiteracy increased significantly during 2016. Since we started the new website, back in 2014, visitors have increased very fast. Our major audience continues to be the United States (66%), however, other countries follow us with varying enthusiasm, depending on the subjects here posted. The top 20 most visited postings were (links provided in case you missed them):

  1. Science Writing and the Pseudoscience Trap.
  2. Measuring the Evolution Controversy – Book 2016.
  3. Antivaxxers and the Educated-Public-Herd Effect.
  4. EvoLiteracy – Biology Science Videos.
  5. The Friendship Paradox vs. the Happiness Paradox.
  6. Intelligent Design and Design Creationism Make it to PLoS ONE.
  7. Darwin’s Skepticism about God.
  8. Russia: A Saturation of Beauty.
  9. 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry Goes to Curiosity-Based Research.
  10. The Art Of Nature: Sculptures Of Dinosaur Tracks and Traces.
  11. Kin Recognition or Kin Discrimination in Single-Celled Organisms – Protists.
  12. EvoLiteracy News 10 23 2015: Vocalizations in Howler Monkeys.
  13. It Takes A Village To Boycott A Pop Science Book.
  14. Intolerance toward Free Speech at America’s College Campuses.
  15. A Secular Humanist’s Plea for Dzhokhar Tsarnaev’s Life.
  16. Are women generally more religious than men? Does it matter?
  17. Evolution Wars: Debunk II.
  18. Evolution Controversy and the Incompatibility of Science and Religion.
  19. Imminent Collapse of Basic Science Under For-profit Model.
  20. Hiking among Trilobites, Ancient Whales and Dinosaurs.

Other highly visited posts were: World Visitors to EvoLiteracy; Photography – Wildlife – Fossils – Landscapes – Museums – Monuments – Cities; Publications; and BioArt. They ranked 6th, 7th, 9th and 14th, respectively, but I excluded them from the list above since they were more informative about my personal background than the topics of broad scientific interest, which I aimed at highlighting in EvoLiteracy. In any event, thanks to our friends, colleagues and followers for being interested in all aspects (personal and professional) of our contributions to science and society.

Here is how the number of visitors to EvoLiteracy has increased from 2014 to 2016:

2014-to-2016-visitors-to-evolution-literacy

And here is the country by country share of visitors (don’t worry about the crowded image, it is supposed to look that way):

113-countries-visitors-evoliteracy-during-2016

The top 20 countries whose people visited EvoLiteracy were:

top-20-countries-visit-evoliteracy-during-2016

We look forward to sharing information about evolution and science topics during 2017. Have a great year everyone, Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C. — EvoLiteracy © 2017.

baby-sea-lion-photo-g-paz-y-mino-c-2008

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

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Measuring the Evolution Controversy - Hard copies 2016

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

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Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGPaz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York. By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK

“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.

The IDeA of Washington DC

Washington’s character is intrinsic to its museums, splendors of the arts and sciences, and the humanities of modern culture. They lead the world not by their past, which is recent (mid 1800s) in contrast to their European counterparts, but the future because they project the direction in which creativity, discovery and the human intellect should go.

G The Hunt Museum Nat Hist Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

The Hunt – National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. The Hall Of Human Origins at the Smithsonian is one of the best in the world. Photo G. Paz-y-Miño-C.

I finally sketched this chronicle. During June 26-28, 2016, I participated at the Institutional Development Award meeting (IDeA) in Washington DC. As per its website, the “IDeA program broadens the geographic distribution of NIH [National Institutes of Health] funding for biomedical research. The program fosters health-related research and enhances the competitiveness of investigators at institutions located in states in which the aggregate success rate for applications to NIH has historically been low… IDeA [supports] faculty development and research infrastructure enhancement at institutions in 23 states and Puerto Rico.”

The gathering included 1000 attendees (scientists, postdocs, graduate and undergraduate students, and science administrators), the presentation of 180 posters (on the research sponsored by IDeA), about 20 plenary talks, workshops and small(er)-group discussions. These meetings are important for catching up with information about trends in modern research topics suitable for NIH funding, new granting policies by the agency (which are always a moving target), expansion-contraction or ending of programs, emergence of new ones, and the idiosyncrasies of administrative and bureaucratic science-funding work. I have never met a scientist who likes these meetings, but all find them crucial to attend.

I am indirectly involved with IDeA via my research collaboration with Avelina Espinosa on the mechanisms of taxa-, clone- and kin-discrimination in protists (i.e. Entamoeba spp. –see publications). Avelina has been sponsored by IDeA Networks of Biomedical Research Excellence (INBRE) during the past ten years.

INBRE puts the IDeA approach into action.” It enhances “research infrastructure through support of a statewide system of institutions with a multidisciplinary, thematic scientific focus… INBRE’s goal is to “[develop] biomedical research (in Avelina’s case, her studies with pathogenic amebozoans)… and strengthen the research capabilities of… faculty, and provide access to… resources for promising undergraduate students throughout the eligible states (e.g. Roger Williams University in Rhode Island).”

As always, Avelina and I took time –before and after the meeting– to explore the museums, libraries and monuments, and to learn as much as possible about the local history and culture. But, with a difference on this occasion; the District of Columbia is quite known to us. We have been traveling to DC since the early 1990s, at first yearly, for professional reasons (I was a biodiversity intern/consultant at the World Bank in the Summer of 1993, as part of a Graduate Certificate in Tropical Biology and Conservation at the University of Missouri St. Louis), and later to visit the NIH medical campus. We did the latter for a decade and became familiar with Bethesda, DC, restaurants (many but not all in Adams Morgan), the metro system and public transportation. A great exposure to the “Washingtonian life.”

Washington’s character is intrinsic to its museums, splendors of the arts and sciences, and the humanities of modern culture. They lead the world not by their past, which is recent (mid 1800s) in contrast to their European counterparts, but the future because they project the direction in which creativity, discovery and the human intellect should go.

Below are some images in no hierarchical order, but they do show events in which we were involved during the trip and in a semi-chronological fashion, starting with the IDeA meeting and drifting into a combination of meeting-plus-traveling to the Washington Mall for the rest of the day, and to finally visiting Washington all day long. Most photos are in low definition and have little or no editing (click on them to enlarge). Please note that images are copyrighted, all rights reserved, enjoy watching them! — Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C – EvoLiteracy © 2016.

A - MTEC at National Zoo in DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: To start with humor, upon arrival to Washington DC, our book Measuring The Evolution Controversy, visited the Panda facilities at the National Zoo. Selfie with the “Giant Panda” sculpture by Eric Berg (2006).

Giant Panda feeding National Zoo Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Giant Panda feeding at the National Zoo in Washington DC. Wild animals belong in the wild…

IDeA name tag - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Prior to the IDeA meeting. I like meetings in which everything they give you fits in a 2-GB flash drive… which is part of the ID tag… and with all the presentations and posters in it.

B IDeA Meeting Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The IDeA opening session.

A IDeA Meeting Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: And the left side of the room, IDeA meeting in Washington DC.

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Above: The iPoster session; all posters were presented on touch screens.

CC the iPosters at Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: At the electronic poster session, as they called it, the iPosters. The cup was for tips…

IDeA flashdrive - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above:  If anything, THIS IS ALL THEY SHOULD GIVE YOU TO TAKE HOME… at / from a scientific meeting (i.e. three days, 1000 participants, 180 posters, about 20 plenary talks, symposia and small discussions). All in a flash-drive, no paper, no pens (of which you have plenty in your office), no meeting-bags (which usually stay at the hotel-room –they are ugly). In fact, organizers should only give you –a priori– just a weblink to find everything which was uploaded to the flash-drive. So, no flash-drive in the future.

New Escalators Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: On our way to the Washington Mall. Brand new escalators in the DC’s Metro… very bright… easy to see.

Panoramic Library of Congress - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The majestic Library of Congress… Washington DC.

Interior Library of Congress - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The interior of the Library of Congress, Washington DC.

Main Reading Room Library of Congress Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The main reading room (central building), Library of Congress in Washington DC.

Decorations Library of Congress Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Decorations at the Library of Congress in Washington DC… The main building was completed in the late 1890s.

Ceiling Library of Congress Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The ceiling “flower” ornaments, Library of Congress, Washington DC.

MTEC at Library of Congress US - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, posing for selfie at the main hall, Library of Congress, Washington DC.

Library of Congress Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: One of our last stops by the Library of Congress… Washington DC.

Tunnel to Library of Congress - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The “tunnel” from the Capitol to the Library of Congress (goes both ways), Washington DC.

The US Capitol - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Capitol renovation continues. The dome, already finished, looks amazingly white, polished and shiny… Washington DC.

Constantino Brumidi painting US Capitol - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Despite the renovation going on at the U.S. Capitol, we could see the Constantino Brumidi’s paintings.

William Jennings Bryan and Junípero Serra - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: TALKING ABOUT CONTRAST – Nebraska chose William Jennings Bryan as the most prominent native to represent the state at the U.S. Capitol. California went for Junípero Serra. Indiana, in the back, a bit pale.

Museum African American History Culture Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The new building of the National Museum of African American History and Culture (still under construction), it shall open before the end of 2016, Washington DC.

Presidential 2 of 3 Mural Mama Ayeshas Rest Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Presidential Mural at the Mama Ayesha’s restaurant in Adams Morgan (Part I)…

Presidential 3 of 3 Mural Mama Ayeshas Rest Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Presidential Mural at the Mama Ayesha’s restaurant in Adams Morgan (Part II)…

D Hippo and Okapi Museum Nat Hist Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Up close – Hippo and Okapi at the National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

Jaguar National Museum of Natural History - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Melanic Jaguar, National Museum of Natural History, Washington DC.

F Homo heidelbergensis Museum Nat Hist Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Homo heidelbergensis – National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC. The Human Origins Exhibit at the Smithsonian is one of the best in the world…

E Children at Museum Nat Hist Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: PRIMATES – Children (next to bronze chimp statue) watching video about Morganucodon, the first mammals, and the extinction of dinosaurs. National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

L Morganucodon Museum Nat Hist Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: And the Morganucodon Award goes to… National Museum of Natural History in Washington DC.

A Great Inca Road Exhibit Nat Museum Ame Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: At the GREAT INKA ROAD EXHIBIT, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. It summarizes the history of the Inka (Inca) Empire, open until 2018. Impressive, with excellent didactic options (touch screens).

B Great Inca Road Exhibit Nat Museum Ame Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: INKA ROAD EXHIBIT, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC.

C Great Inca Road Exhibit Nat Museum Ame Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: INKA ROAD EXHIBIT, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. Inka khipu (years 1400-1600s) Peru. Cotton, Agave fiber.

D Great Inca Road Exhibit Nat Museum Ame Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: INKA ROAD EXHIBIT, Smithsonian National Museum of the American Indian in Washington DC. This is a very good museum.

OJIBWE Birch Bark Canoe National Museum of the American Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: OJIBWE Birch Bark Canoe at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC.

Inside of OJIBWE Birch Bark Canoe - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Inside OJIBWE Birch Bark Canoe at the National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC.

Pineapple lily Eucomis sp US Botanic Garden - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Pineapple lily, Eucomis sp., US Botanic Garden, Washington DC.

Another take Arlington National Cemetery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: At the main entrance to the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia…

Memorial Amphitheater Arlington National Cemetery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The impressive Memorial Amphitheater at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia. It resembles –in architecture– the Greek archeological amphitheaters of Europe…

MTEC at the Arlington National Cemetery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book visiting the Memorial Amphitheater at the Arlington National Cemetery in Virginia…

NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY in Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY in Washington DC. This is a world-class museum, Smithsonian quality, impressive, very well conceptualized and representative of the American portrait culture and legacy (a specialized collection on/about the United States). Entrance to the museum is free, as to all Smithsonian museums in Washington. Free education for anyone, from anywhere in the world, who decides to visit. You need an entire day to explore it well. What a treat!

Corridors NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY in Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Halls and corridors at the NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY in Washington DC.

THE DYING TECUMSEH - National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: THE DYING TECUMSEH by Ferdinand Pettrich (about 1850s) National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Marble with painted copper. The beauty is that if you stare at the sculpture, Tecumseh seems to continue dying, he never ends dying.

Mohamed Ali National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Mohamed Ali at the National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Rosa Parks by Marshall Rumbaugh National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: ROSA PARKS, by Marshall Rumbaugh, 1983, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Painted limewood (sculptured).

Close up Rosa Parks by Marshall Rumbaugh National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: And detail of ROSA PARKS, by Marshall Rumbaugh, 1983, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Painted limewood (sculptured).

BLACK HAWK Nat Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: BLACK HAWK, by George Catlin, oil on canvas, about 1835. National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Einstein by Jo Davidson Nat Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Up close: terra cotta and a cell-phone camera. – Work of Jo Davidson, terra cotta, 1934, National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

EO Wilson by Jennie Summerall - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Edward O. Wilson by Jennie Summerall, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC. Oil on canvas (2006).

WJC - National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: WJC – National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC, by Chuck Close, oil on canvas (2006).

ACHELOUS AND HERCULES and ONE AND ANOTHER National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: ACHELOUS AND HERCULES (back) by Thomas Hart Benton, and ONE AND ANOTHER (front) by Hugo Robus, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC.

One And Another NATIONAL PORTRAIT GALLERY in Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: ONE AND ANOTHER (1934), bronze on wood base, by Hugo Robus. National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. This is such a beautiful piece, human size. An entire room for it. The paintings around seem static, almost watching at One And Another…

Close up ACHELOUS AND HERCULES National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: ACHELOUS AND HERCULES, oil on canvas (1947), by Thomas Hart Benton, National Portrait Gallery, Washington DC.

Babbon National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Baboon (1930s) by Bessie Stough Callender, National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC. It reminded us of the Egyptian baboons…

Babbon B&W National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Close up of Baboon (1930s), in B&W, by Bessie Stough Callender; National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Falcons National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Falcons (left unfinished, right finished, 1937) on black Belgian marble, by Bessie Stough Callender, National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Washington Sea Eagle National Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Washington Sea Eagle (1836-39) by John James Audubon, oil on canvas. Zoom in, you can see the carks on the canvas. National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

Giant Panda B&W feeding National Zoo Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Giant Panda feeding on bamboo, National Zoo, Washington DC. Wild animals belong in the wild…

Welcoming Lion National Zoo Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Welcoming Lion, National Zoo, Washington DC.

Priscilla The Parrot Fish National Zoo Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Priscilla The Parrot Fish at the National Zoo, Washington DC.

Electronic Superhighway Nat Portrait Gallery - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Electronic Superhighway (2002) by Nam June Paik (born in Korea), pioneer of video-art. National Portrait Gallery in Washington DC.

H The White House Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The White House, as close as you can get nowadays…

Jefferson Memorial Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Jefferson Memorial awakening… by the Potomac, Washington DC

Jefferson Memorial Washington DC color - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Jefferson Memorial, another view, Washington DC

MTEC US Supreme Court - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Remember EDWARDS V. AGUILLARD? The 1987 (June 19) US Supreme Court ruling concerning “…a Louisiana law (i.e. Creationism Act) requiring that creation science be taught in public schools, along with evolution, violated the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment because the law was specifically intended to advance a particular religion…” Well, MTEC visited the US Supreme Court to reflect about that specific ruling. It was a beautiful, sunny day, dry and perfect to pose for selfies.

Pillars US Supreme Court - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The imposing architecture of the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington DC.

The famous staircase at the US Supreme Court - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The famous staircase at the U.S. Supreme Court in Washington DC. There are two of these beautiful stairways in the building.

When water breaks Bethesda MD - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: When Water Breaks, It Always Does, Bethesda.

Chesapeake Bays Fish Market Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: We visited the famous Chesapeake Bay’s Fish marketplace. This made the day!

Chesapeake B Bays Fish Market Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Close ups of the Chesapeake Bay’s Fish market.

Crabs Chesapeake Bays Fish Market Washington DC - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: And even closer… Chesapeake Bay’s Fish market, Washington DC.

Sooner or Later Nat Museum Ame Indian - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Sooner or Later, National Museum of the American Indian, Washington DC.

MTEC at the US Supreme Court - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our Book at the US Supreme Court. MTEC took some time to visit the building. Here, the volume is posing with one of the Cherub sculptures (the “Pen and Mace”) of the flagpole base. Both look radiant.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

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Promotion Measuring the Evolution Controversy Paz-y-Mino-C & Espinosa 2016

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

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Paz-y-Mino-C_Book_Cover_Evolution_Stands_Faith_Up_JPEGPaz-y-Miño-C., G. 2013. Evolution Stands Faith Up: Reflections on Evolution’s Wars. NOVA Publishers, New York. By NOVA Publishers, New York Soft Cover. Find it at Barnes & Noble, Amazon.comAmazon UK

“The sweet spot of this collection of essays is the interface of science, history and literacy. Paz-y-Miño-C is, in essence, a champion of rationalism and a passionate defender of literacy standards. His essays deftly weave hard survey data and memorable turns of phrase with evocative imagery… While the essays in this collection are vast in coverage —from climate change to energy policy, stem cell research, vaccinations and, especially, evolution— a clear underlying theme emerges: [the author’s] goal is no less than to counter, through the lens of history and the majesty of rationalism, social forces that sanction ignorance, celebrate denial and… continue to diminish our global status in the fields of science and technology.” Jeff Podos, PhD, Professor of Biology, University of Massachusetts Amherst, USA.

“Paz-y-Miño-C  is a firm believer in evolutionary processes. He would like to see decisions made on the basis of facts, not unsupported opinion. He abhors and fears irrational thinking, especially ‘the views of those who see evil in truth and menace in the realities discovered by science.’ He marvels at the intricacy and diversity of life, and how it came about through natural selection… and is clearly frustrated by the unwillingness of so many to see the beauty and majesty in this view of the world and all that it explains.” – Jan A. Pechenik, PhD, Professor of Biology, Tufts University, USA, author of The Readable Darwin: The Origin of Species, as Edited for Modern Readers.

Russia: A Saturation of Beauty

“…There is so much history in Russia, a cultural legacy for the world. Its splendor is overwhelming. The fantasy in the architecture of its cathedrals and palaces; the colors of joy on its paintings; the ballerinas dancing in the snow at the tempo of always original music; the transcendent prose and verse of its writers, above all –to me– the perfection of Tolstoy’s Anna Karenina. A nation of great contrasts like all mega homelands. Of imposed extreme inequality and oppression by its past ruling Tsars, shamelessly sheltered by the co-conspirator Orthodoxy, the Church and its wicked Patriarchs, enticers of the populous. Its 1917 Revolution was inevitable, as it later was the Cold War with the West, which sequels still mark the divide between the peoples of Russia and ‘the capitalists.’ But what impresses me most of Russia is its capacity to have rebuilt itself after the significant obliteration of its land during World War II. Only a collective mind that treasures culture could reconstruct it, despite its 27-million casualties while battling Nazism. — One day, in the distant future, just before the subversive cells of my skin take over the rest of the organs and inflict their final harm, I would like to see the Russian Cathedrals again. Not because an Atheist needs conversion before death; that will never happen, I will always reject Fraud. But because these ‘now museums’ represent the saturation of art-beauty that I have been looking for…” — GPC.

We just returned from Russia after attending the Moscow Forum Protists – 2016 held at Lomonosov Moscow State University, from June 6th to 10th. The program, sponsored by the International Society of Protistologists (ISOP), included five plenary sessions with keynote speakers, general oral presentations, two symposia (integrative co-evolution between mitochondria and their hosts, and protists of marine sediments), and poster presentations (two sessions with about 50 posters each) on diverse topics, including: evolution and phylogeny, taxonomy, systematics and DNA barcoding, genomics and molecular biology, cell biology, organismal biology, parasitology, diversity and biogeography, ecology of soil protists, ecology of aquatic protists, bioindicators and palaeoecology. The 200 participants had time to exchange ideas during informal, social gatherings.

Avelina Espinosa and I participated with a poster (something we have not done in years, perhaps since we were postdocs, although our students present posters often) titled “Aggregative Behavior, Cell Signaling and Morphometrics: Entamoeba Discrimination Studies.” It summarized our latest papers (2016) featured on the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology (for details and links to articles see Symposium Kin-Discrimination in Protists just featured on JEUK). Here is the poster, you can click on the image to enlarge:

Aggregative Behav Cell Signaling Morphometrics Entamoeba Discrimination Studies 2016

The meeting included a pre-conference trip to Saint Petersburg and a post-conference tour to the Golden Ring of Russia; we joined both. Plus three excursions, two of which we did on our own (the Armoury Chamber and the Moscow Kremlin), and a visit to the State Tretyakov Gallery, which we missed due to a conflict on our schedule.

Below, I include some of the images of our trip, in no particular order. On purpose, I often use a phone-camera to document our traveling. Most images are in low definition and have little or no editing (click on them to enlarge). Please note that images are copyrighted, all rights reserved, enjoy watching them! — EvoLiteracy © 2016.

MTEC at downtown campus Lomonosov Moscow State University - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy (2016), at the downtown campus of Lomonosov Moscow State University. Quite a stop to start our official visit. The old campus is located nearby the Kremlin. The new campus is located South of the city’s center.

Opening ISOP 2016 - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Opening at Moscow Forum Protists – 2016. The Faculty of Biology Building, Lomonosov Moscow State University.

Main Building COLOR Lomonosov Moscow State University - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Main Building Lomonosov Moscow State University. There are seven identical buildings in Moscow, one of them belongs to the University.

VDNKH Metro Station in Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: VDNKH Metro Station in Moscow. Tiles covering an entire wall (18 x 6 feet). While we were admiring this “tile-mosaic,” a young couple, plus a boy with his mother, stopped by to take pictures, an indication that this was an appreciated spot.

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in Suzdal Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in Suzdal, Russia. My favorite; blue is the right color.

Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin INSIDE Suzdal Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Inside the Cathedral of the Nativity of the Virgin in Suzdal, Russia.

The Senate and The Secret Gardens Kremlin Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Senate and The Secret Gardens, Kremlin, Moscow.

Kremlin Wall with tower - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The iconic Kremlin Wall with tower, Moscow. The Kremlin buildings (government and museums) are enclosed by the wall.

The Grand Kremlin Palace Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Grand Kremlin Palace in Moscow.

MTEC exploring Moscow Map - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, planning the next day’s activities in Moscow. The Metro system is quite efficient to explore the city’s historic buildings, monuments and museums.

Russian State Library Main Hall - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Russian State Library, Main Hall, Moscow. An old palace in current renovation.

Marble stairs at the Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Marble stairs at the Russian State Library; history polished on marble, perhaps by millions of people over the years, Moscow.

View of Kermlin from Russian State Library Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: View of the Kremlin from the Russian State Library in Moscow.

Fyodor Dostoyevsky Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Fyodor Dostoyevsky statue at the Russian State Library, frequented spot by pigeons and birdlife. Quiet, little explored by pedestrians now that the surroundings are in renovation.

Detail of Facade Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Detail of façade at the Russian State Library, Moscow.

Book Museum View - Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Book Museum at the Russian State Library. Its collection of old books is impressive, hundreds of volumes.

SURVEYING VOYAGES Book Museum Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Darwin’s SURVEYING VOYAGES (1839) at the Book Museum of the Russian State Library, Moscow.

HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA Book Museum Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The original HUMANI CORPORIS FABRICA by Andreas Vesalius (1543) at the Book Museum, Russian Sate Library, Moscow. I have seen this book twice, the first time at the Library of Medicine, National Institutes of Health, Bethesda, in the US.

DON QVIXOTE OF LA MANCHA Book Museum Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: DON QVIXOTE OF LA MANCHA (1616), Book Museum, Russian State Library, Moscow.

1867 Das Kapital - Book Museum - Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: 1867 edition of Das Kapital by Karl Marx, Book Museum, Russian State Library, Moscow.

MTEC at Library Lomonosov Moscow State University - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, enjoying a lovely day outside the Library of Lomonosov Moscow State University. MTEC was not allowed in the Library due to lack of proper “pass,” which was required for visitors. In any event, the book took some time for selfies and promotion.

Modern Moscow at sunset - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Modern Moscow at sunset, a view from our hotel.

Moscow River and Kremlin - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Moskva River and Kremlin (on the right), Moscow.

Saint Basil's Cathedral Moscow NIGHT - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Saint Basil’s Cathedral (night), Moscow.

Saint Basil's Cathedral Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Saint Basil’s Cathedral, Moscow, panoramic view.

Saint Basil's Cathedral Moscow closeup - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Saint Basil’s Cathedral, close up, Moscow.

Orthodox Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Orthodox Moscow, next to Saint Basil’s Cathedral.

The Historical Museum at Red Square Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Historical Museum at Red Square, Moscow. It has an excellent collection of artifacts related to Russian history, starting from Homo erectus (the first archeological discoveries in Russian landscapes) up to the 20th Century.

The GUM Building at Red Square Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The GUM Building at Red Square, Moscow.

Annunciation Cathedral side-view Kremlin Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Annunciation Cathedral, side-view, Kremlin, Moscow.

Annunciation Cathedral B&W Kremlin Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Annunciation Cathedral in B&W, Kremlin, Moscow.

The Ivan The Great Bell Tower - Kremlin Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Ivan The Great Bell Tower, Kremlin Moscow.

Cathedral of Christ the Saviour Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Cathedral of Christ the Saviour, Moscow.

Bolshoi Theatre Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Bolshoi Theatre, Moscow.

Bolshoi Theatre Stage Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Bolshoi Theatre’s stage, Moscow. We were fortunate to get tickets for the Opera Katerina Izmailova, an adaptation of Shostakovich’s opera Lady Macbeth of the Mtsensk District.

Bolshoi Theatre Central Balcony Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Bolshoi Theatre Central Balcony, Moscow.

Beautiful Moscow by night - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Beautiful Moscow by night.

Diptic MEMORIAL MUSEUM OF COSMONAUTICS Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: At the MEMORIAL MUSEUM OF COSMONAUTICS, Moscow.

MTEC at MEMORIAL MUSEUM OF COSMONAUTICS Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, at the MEMORIAL MUSEUM OF COSMONAUTICS, Moscow.

Back View of Lenin's Mausoleum - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Back view of Lenin’s Mausoleum, Kremlin, Moscow.

Karl Marx Monument Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Karl Marx monument in Moscow.

Handcrafted Nature Boxes St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Handcrafted Nature Boxes, St. Petersburg.

Casual Moscow with Fast Food - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Casual Moscow… fast-food style.

Kazan Cathedral Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Kazan Cathedral, Red Square, Moscow.

MTEC posing before The Senate Kremlin Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, posing before The Senate, Kremlin Moscow.

STONE FLOWER FOUNTAIN in Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: STONE FLOWER FOUNTAIN in Moscow.

The Friendship of People Fountain Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Friendship of People Fountain, Moscow.

ARCHITECTURAL DETAIL CENTRAL PAVELION Moscow - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Architectural detail, Central Pavilion, Moscow.

Kazan Cathedral St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Kazan Cathedral in St. Petersburg.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg.

Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood St Petersburg CLOSE UP - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Close up of Church of the Savior on Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg.

B&W Church on The Spilled Blood St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Church on The Spilled Blood, St. Petersburg. The church is so colorful that even in B&W the viewer can imagine the colors.

Close up Hermitage Museum St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Close up of The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

The Royal Throne Hermitage Museum St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Royal Throne at The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

Wooden Floor Winter Palace Hermitage Museum St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Wooden Floor at The Winter Palace, The Hermitage Museum, St. Petersburg.

RUSSIAN ACADEMY OF SCIENCES St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The old building of the Russian Academy of Sciences in St. Petersburg.

Main Entrance Summer Palace St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Main Entrance to The Summer Palace, St. Petersburg.

Meet me at the bridge St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Meet me at the bridge, St. Petersburg.

The last red phone St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The last red phone, St. Petersburg.

Dormition Cathedral Vladimir - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Dormition Cathedral in Vladimir, Russia.

Matryoshkas from the 1920s Trinity Church Vladimir - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Matryoshkas from the 1920s, Trinity Church, Vladimir, Russia. In the old(er) days, the dolls were of pale colors, which changed over the years to a more colorful design.

A Fowl Trinity Church Vladimir - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: A Fowl at the Trinity Church in Vladimir, Russia.

Lenin Stalin Trinity Church Vladimir Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Lenin and Stalin on glass, Trinity Church, Vladimir, Russia.

Town of Suzdal Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Town of Suzdal, Russia.

B&W House in Suzdal Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Traditional old-house in the town of Suzdal, Russia.

Colorful Russia Suzdal - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Colorful Russia, the town of Suzdal.

Saint Euthymius Monastery Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Saint Euthymius Monastery, Suzdal, Russia.

Detail of ceiling at Trinity Church Vladimir - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Detail of ceiling at Trinity Church in Vladimir, Russia.

The Former KGB - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Former KGB building in Moscow.

Water reflection Convent Bogolyubovo Vladimir region Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Water reflection of Convent Bogolyubovo in the Vladimir region, Russia.

Old Village Suzdal Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Old Village in the town of Suzdal, Russia.

More of the Saint Euthymius Monastery Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Saint Euthymius Monastery, Suzdal, Russia.

Golden Gate Vladimir Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Golden Gate, Vladimir, Russia.

Church of The Transfiguration Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Church of The Transfiguration, Suzdal, Russia.

Church of The Transfiguration Russia Close Ups - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: The Church of The Transfiguration is completely built on wood, Suzdal, Russia.

Convent Bogolyubovo Vladimir region Russia - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Convent Bogolyubovo, Vladimir region, Russia.

Matryoshkas in color St Petersburg - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Matryoshkas in color, St. Petersburg.

MTEC inside the Russian State Library - Photo G-Paz-y-Mino-C 2016

Above: Our book, Measuring the Evolution Controversy, enjoying a visit to one of the reading rooms at the Russian State Library in Moscow.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

Suggested Readings

Kin Recognition or Kin Discrimination in Single-Celled Organisms – Protists

Symposium Kin-Discrimination in Protists just featured on JEUK

Protisto-Biologists Flock to Seville for ECOP-ISOP Scientific Meeting

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy full text

*  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *     *  *  *  *  *

D - Headline Book Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016

Paz-y-Miño-C, G & Espinosa, A. 2016. Measuring the Evolution Controversy: A Numerical Analysis of Acceptance of Evolution at America’s Colleges and Universities. Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Newcastle, United Kingdom. ISBN (10): 1-4438-9042-1, ISBN (13): 978-1-4438-9042-7.

BOOK small format - Measuring the Evolution Controversy 2016Measuring the Evolution Controversy can be ordered directly from Cambridge Scholars Publishing, Amazon US, or Amazon CA . The publisher has made available a “VIEW EXTRACT” (in PDF), which includes the first 30-pages of the book: Cover, Table of Contents, Acknowledgments, Preface, Chapter ONE and the beginning of Chapter TWO. For PDF of color illustrations go to Image Resources of Didactic Relevance.

“The great contribution of ‘Measuring the Evolution Controversy’ is the rich content of data and analysis that asks detailed questions about the social, economic and political backgrounds of those who tend to reject evolution vs. those who accept evolution as science. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa deftly analyze their data drawn from institutions of higher learning in the United States and particularly New England —which stands as a microcosm of the rest of the country, and indeed elsewhere in the world. It is their scientific approach to these issues which makes this book stand out as a uniquely original contribution.” — Niles Eldredge, PhD, Curator Emeritus of Paleontology at The American Museum of Natural History, New York.

“Pro-science activists and educators constantly bemoan the resistance to the teaching of evolution in the United States. All of us have anecdotes about encounters with the public, parents and students who are misinformed by their churches, Religious-Right groups, and creationist organizations. Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa present hard data that support the anecdotal evidence. They also show that although anti-evolutionism typically begins with religion, it is a multi-faceted problem that intersects with political and cultural ideologies. Gathered through careful research over a period of years, their data will enable scientists and defenders of science education to comprehend the roots of the evolution controversy and counteract resistance to evolution more strategically and effectively.”Barbara Forrest, PhD, co-author with Paul R. Gross of Creationism’s Trojan Horse: The Wedge of Intelligent Design (2007), and expert witness for plaintiffs, Kitzmiller et al. v. Dover Area School District (2005).

Visitors to EvoLiteracy during April 2016 – 50 countries and growing!

A short posting summarizing our followers’ visits to Evolution Literacy during April 2016. We continue to grow internationally… and fast.

EvoLiteracy continues to grow and, although many of our visitors are from the United States (65%), the international presence is nowadays notorious. We thank our followers for that. Colleagues and friends from 50 countries read (during April 2016) our news and opinion pieces about science, the evolution controversy and research reports from various sources. Our upcoming book Measuring the Evolution Controversy, by Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa, shall ignite additional attention (the book has been announced by Cambridge Scholars Publishing, it will be out June 1, 2016). I will provide info about the book in a separate post, probably during the coming week (the Publisher shall make available mini-reviews of the book by scholars and/or other authors). In any event, back to the purpose of this post, hope you all enjoy being part of the statistics in the pie diagram and country-by-country list below. – GPC

Here is a summary-depiction of visitors’ activity at EvoLiteracy during the past 30 days. The over-crowded and overlapping text (top right, just below the word “During“) is there on purpose, there is nothing wrong with your computer. It shows 32-superimposed names of countries and their corresponding percent values of visitors’ activity (yes, it is hard to read, which in this case is permissible); the complete list of countries is shown after the pie diagram. If you visited EvoLiteracy during April 2016, your country should be listed:

Visitors to EvoLiteracy during April 2016

And here is the list of countries from which our followers are from (50 during April 2016; the grand total of country visits, as per 2015, is 103). The list includes the European Union, Taiwan and Hong Kong as “countries” for reasons known to internet users (otherwise, click on European UnionTaiwan or Hong Kong to learn about it). I thank you all for sharing our posts and for re-posting them on twitter and Facebook. – GPC – Evolution Literacy.

List of Visitors to EvoLiteracy during April 2016

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com — Follow us on Twitter @gpazymino and Facebook.

Suggested Reading

World Visitors to EvoLiteracy: Top 25 Most Read Posts of 2015

Kin Recognition or Kin Discrimination in Single-Celled Organisms – Protists

EvoLiteracy News 04 04 2016

Can single-celled organisms distinguish between same (self or clone) and different (diverse clones)? Can they tell apart kin from non-kin? Can they “learn” to discriminate or recognize members of their own versus others’ cellular lineages? Answers to these questions are provided in three articles (first, second, and third) just published (early view) in the Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology. The studies summarize outcomes of the symposium “Evidence of Taxa-, Clone-, and Kin-discrimination in Protists: Ecological and Evolutionary Implications,” which took place at the VII European Congress of Protistology, organized last summer in partnership with the International Society of Protistologists (ECOP-ISOP 2015), and hosted by the University of Seville, Spain. I participated at this Symposium and co-authored two of the trilogy papers. But my purpose here is to bring attention to the topic “kin discrimination” or “kin recognition” in unicellular organisms, an area of research that has made much progress in the past fifteen years. There are some technicalities in the text below, but I ask the readers to make an effort and try to understand the broad themes, while being patient with the details. Enjoy! – Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C.

Entamoeba invadens IP-1 Green-and-Red 3-hours - A Espinosa 2016

The unicellular eukaryote Entamoeba invadens (a protist) colored with Green or Red markers. When the Green and Red cells fully aggregate in mixed assemblages, they look yellow under the microscope, an indication that the amebas are able to distinguish members of the same clone, without being affected by the coloration. When grown in the laboratory with non-clone members, the amebas only aggregate with same-clone cells, an indication of preference to group with themselves. Photo courtesy of A. Espinosa 2016.

Readers unfamiliar with “protistan” biology might benefit from grasping some terminology (i.e. protist, prokaryote, eukaryote, clone, multicellularity, kin recognition/discrimination), which I explain next by answering simple questions. For those trained in biology, it might be fine to skip the first five subtitles, below, and move on directly to “From multicellular to unicellular: a round trip:”

What is a protist?

Remember that some organisms are made of single cells. Yes, the entire organism is a cell. For example, bacteria (like the E. coli that lives in the human gut) or amebas, which are also microscopic and can be found in a pond. However, one of the main differences between a bacteria and an ameba is that the former has no nucleus, in contrast to the latter that has it. For that reason, bacteria are called prokaryotes (pro = “before” or “prior to” or, in this case, no nucleus) and amebas are called eukaryotes (eu = “well” or “good” or, in this case, with nucleus). However, many other organisms have nucleated cells (and are, therefore, eukaryotes), like a frog, an orchid, a chimpanzee, a maple tree, or a Blue Whale. The term “protist” applies to unicellular eukaryotes, while the amphibian, the plant, or the aquatic mammal are called multicellular eukaryotes, since their bodies are made of billions of nucleated cells.

Now, the term “protist” is tricky because it includes extremely diverse organisms (which earliest ancestors likely emerged two billion years ago), and over the years scientists have realized that many exceptions exist of organisms that, although are not always unicellular in their life cycles, they are (or should be considered) protists. One of them is the social ameba (or amoeba), Dictyostelium, which forms multicellular assemblages (moving “slugs;” watch video) during its life stages, and also lives in nature as a single-celled, free ranging ameba. To learn more about the ambiguities intrinsic to the term “protist,” and for more examples, go here.

What is a clone?

Ameba cell division cartoon EvoLiteracyBecause unicellular organisms reproduce, in many cases, via simple cell divisions, the resulting progeny is often identical to the parental cell. A single ameba, for example, can give origin to 2 identical daughter cells, which, in turn, can generate 4 cells (i.e. 2, 4, 8… see cartoon on the right). The resulting thousands, or millions, of cells are “clones” (identical copies of each other). Now, during so many cell divisions, mutations that change the sequence of DNA can –and do– occur, making the descendant cells gradually different from the parental ones. Over time, maybe hundreds of years, a cell line could change enough to become a different clone. Moreover, after thousands or millions of years, different species of amebas can emerge, each distinctive from one another and from the species that gave them origin in the past, a phenomenon known as speciation.

What is multicellularity?

Volvox colonies

Volvox (a green-algae protist) forms large sphere-colonies made of hundreds, or thousands, of individual cells (see daughter colonies inside). Click on image for source.

Perhaps a more didactic question here is ‘where do multicellular organisms (i.e. frogs, orchids, chimps, maple trees, blue whales) come from’? A first, quick answer is that all multicellular organisms known today originated –at some point– in ancient assemblages of unicellular ancestors (traceable to billions of years ago). However, a more cautious answer is that we have a fragmentary understanding about how primitive single-celled eukaryotes took the path (here I mean driven by natural selection) toward permanent associations in immense cellular cooperatives, which we now call multicellular organisms (note that scientists consider the advent of multicellularity a “major evolutionary transition” in the history of Earth). And that is why studying modern protists, like gregarious amebas (in the genus Entamoeba), or facultative social amebas (i.e. not always social, but in response to environmental circumstances), like Dictyostelium, can give us hints about how multicellularity originated. This particular topic is discussed in the three articles published in JEUKMIC (first, second, and third), and to which I refer in this post. But before I get into that, take a look at the image of Volvox (inset). The organism Volvox is a green-algae protist, which forms large sphere-colonies made of hundreds, or thousands, of individual cells. Inside these spheres, daughter colonies develop and, when they mature, the parental spheres bursts and the descendant colonies are released into the aquatic environment, where they continue to grow and proliferate. Today’s multicellular aggregations of protists, like Entamoeba, Dictyostelium or Volvoxgive us clues about how multicellularity might have originated in ancient Earth. Moreover, they are good model-systems to study kin recognition or kin discrimination (which include an organism’s skills for grouping and cooperating with the right partners, and behaving altruistically toward them) in the context of the origin and evolution of multicellularity.

What is kin recognition or kin discrimination?

 “The ‘field of kin recognition’… has no consensus on definitions or proposed mechanisms, possibly due to the vast diversity of life histories across organisms and their phylogenetic complexities…”

NASA astronauts Scott Kelly and Mark Kelly Photo Tony Cenicola

NASA’s twin astronauts Scott, left, and Mark Kelly. Photo: Tony Cenicola. In humans, identical twins are the only natural “clones;” their genetic relatedness is equal to 100% (represented by r = 1.0). However, the rest of us are related to our siblings only by 50%, or r = 0.5. Our relatedness with our parents is the same, r = 0.5. Can the reader tell why? If so, here is a question: what would be your genetic relatedness with an uncle/aunt, or with a grand parent, or with a second cousin?

This topic can be a bit confusing. However, in one of the articles (the first one listed below), the authors explain why: “…The ‘field of kin recognition’… has no consensus on definitions or proposed mechanisms, possibly due to the vast diversity of life histories across organisms and their phylogenetic complexities (here, phylogeny means ancestry, somewhat analogous to genealogy, not of your own family, but rather of distinctive species or kinds of organisms grouped in distinctive categories). [The authors] refer to “recognition” as an organism’s ability to identify kin [family members] versus non-kin [members of another family]; in addition, [the authors] use the term “discrimination” as the capacity to distinguish one clone from another. Because [the authors] discuss instances of taxa- [taxa = in this particular case means species], clone-, and kin-discrimination/recognition in single-celled organisms capable of both discriminating between same and different, and discriminating/recognizing among clones of distinctive [degree of genetic relatedness, like, for example, values of r less than 1.0], [the authors] use these terms together…”

Why is it relevant to study kin recognition or kin discrimination in single-celled organisms?

To answer this question, I will borrow, again, text from the first article: “…Multicellularity is a major evolutionary transition in which single-celled organisms switched from living individually to permanent assemblages. It is possible that multicellularity originated —more than once— in clonality, via a gradual aggregation of closely related cells, capable of recognizing one another by means of chemical cues, and which lived consistently in intimate proximity and benefited from specialized division of labor (i.e. distinctive tissues and organs with given functions). Such specialization included the full allocation of soma-reproduction [soma = the entire body of an organism] to a small population of cells within the soma, the gametes [i.e. ovules, sperm]Protists are central to the reevaluation of the theoretical framework and concepts in the field of kin recognition, and to research about the origins and evolution of multicellularity...

From multicellular to unicellular: a roundtrip

The first article (by Paz-y-Miño-C and Espinosa) is a concise review on “Kin Discrimination in Protists: From Many Cells to Single Cells and Backwards.” In it, the authors summarize the current understanding of the genetics of kin discrimination/recognition in unicellular Eukaryotes, and they do it historically by going back in time, to Darwin and his Origin of Species (1859; Darwin speculated* that selection may be applied to the family; kin discrimination/recognition rely on kin-selection theory), and the influential 1960s, when the modern field of kin recognition was, arguably, born. Here is a simplified version of the first article’s abstract:

During four decades (1960s to 1990s), the conceptualization and experimental design of studies in kin recognition relied on work with multicellular eukaryotes, particularly invertebrates and vertebrates, and some plants. This pioneering research had an animal behavior approach. During the 2000s, work on taxa-, clone- and kin-discrimination and recognition in protists produced genetic and molecular evidence that unicellular organisms could distinguish between same (self or clone) and different (diverse clones), as well as among conspecifics of close or distant genetic relatedness (Table 1, below). Here we discuss some of the research on the genetics of kin discrimination/recognition and highlight the scientific progress made by switching emphasis from investigating multicellular to unicellular systems (and backwards). We document how studies with protists are helping us to understand the microscopic, cellular origins and evolution of the mechanisms of kin discrimination/recognition and their significance for the advent of multicellularity...”

[Click on Table 1, below, to enlarge]

Table 1 Kin-discrimination in Protists Paz-y-Mino-C Espinosa JEUKMIC 2016

Readers might find the following excerpts from this article quite intriguing, e.g. “learning” in unicellular organisms (is that possible?):

“…In 1899, H. S. Jennings wrote: ‘Paramecium… an animal that learns nothing, that exercises no choice in any respect, that is attracted by nothing and repelled by nothing, that reacts entirely without reference to the position of external objects, that has but one reaction [movement –watch video below] for the most varied stimuli… can hardly be said to have made the first step in the evolution of mind, and we are not compelled to assume consciousness or intelligence in any form to explain its activities.”

Above: movement behavior in Paramecium. This video is 13-min long and shows various types of Paramecium. If you watch it for a couple of minutes, it shall give you an idea about how these ciliates look like and move.

Except for mind, consciousness and intelligence, which are not prerequisites for kin discrimination or recognition (both can also operate in a reflex manner: stimulus-response), Jennings was mistaken about his entire characterization of Paramecium. Since the early 1900s, sensitization, trial-and-error learning, and classical or operant conditioning (relevant attributes among some of the multicellular eukaryotes that learn to recognize kin) have been documented in Paramecium; [including] micro-tube-escape swimming behavior via discrimination learning (1910s), habituation to approach baited and un-baited targets using bacteria as food-reinforcer (1950s), and swim-approach behavior toward mild-electrically-charged fields in learning discrimination tasks using positive and punishment reinforcements (2000s).”

And the authors add: “…But, to our knowledge, there is no direct, experimental evidence that protists can rely specifically on sensitization (i.e. the enhancement of a response to an incremental exposure to a stimulus, for example, the differential frequency exposure to kin versus non-kin during a life cycle), trial-and-error learning (i.e. repeated attempts to solve a task until success, for example, attempts to behave altruistically toward kin, and the benefits it entails, versus the costs of maladaptive altruism toward non-kin), or classical or operant conditioning to discriminate between kin and non-kin (i.e. learning to associate a behavioral or chemical cue with the advantages/disadvantages of aggregating, cooperating or reproducing with conspecifics of [diverse degree of relatedness]). All these topics, remain open areas of investigation and experimentation with protists since, like Paramecium, they possess basic sensory perception capabilities, which could have been co-opted [= adapted] during evolution to function in kin discrimination/recognition…”

Social amebas (or facultative social)

The second article (by Strassmann) is a another review, in this case on “Kin Discrimination in Dictyostelium Social Amoebae.” In it, the author recounts her research program on various species of social amebas, including Polysphondylium violaceum, D. purpureum and D. giganteum. Here is a simplified version of the abstract:

Evolved cooperation is stable only when the benefactor is compensated, either directly or through its relatives. Social amoebae cooperate by forming a mobile multicellular body in which about 20% of participants ultimately dies to form a stalk [watch video below]. This benefits the remaining individuals that become hardy spores at the top of the stalk, together making up [a] fruiting body. In studied species [of social ameba] with stalked migration, P. violaceum, D. purpureum, and D. giganteum, sorting based on clone identity occurs in laboratory mixes, maintaining high relatedness within the fruiting bodies. D. discoideum has unstalked migration where cell fate is not fixed until the slug forms a fruiting body. Laboratory mixes show some degree of both spatial and genotype-based sorting, yet most laboratory fruiting bodies remain chimeric. However, wild fruiting bodies are made up mostly of clonemates. A genetic mechanism for sorting is likely to be cell adhesion genes tgrB1 and tgrC1, which bind to each other. [These genes] are highly variable, as expected for a kin discrimination gene. It is a puzzle that these genes do not cause stronger discrimination between mixed wild clones, but laboratory conditions or strong sorting early in the social stage diminished by later slug fusion could be explanations.”

Above: the amazing videos of social behavior in amebas, by John Bonner, Professor of Biology at Princeton University. He obtained the images as an undergraduate student. This is a 2-min video of historical value, watch it to the end (it turns spectacular).

Gregarious amebas

The third article (by Espinosa et al.) is a multi-clone characterization of Entamoeba species; it is titled “Entamoeba Clone-recognition Experiments: Morphometrics, Aggregative Behavior, and Cell-signaling Characterization.” The authors discuss their laboratory trials with seven ameba varieties; here is a simplified version of the abstract:

Phylogeny of Entamoeba clones Espinosa et al JEUKMIC 2016

Schematic phylogeny based on ssrRNA sequences of the Entamoeba clones discussed in the Espinosa et al. article. Free-living: E. moshkovskii Laredo; commensal E. terrapinae and E. dispar; and parasitic E. invadens IP-1, E. invadens VK-1:NS, E. moshkovskii Snake and E. histolytica HM-1:IMSS.

Studies on clone- and kin-discrimination in protists have proliferated during the past decade. We report clone-recognition experiments in seven Entamoeba [varieties] (E. invadens IP-1, E. invadens VK-1:NS, E. terrapinae, E. moshkovskii Laredo, E. moshkovskii Snake, E. histolytica and E. dispar). First, we characterized morphometrically each clone (length, width, and cell-surface area) and documented how they differed statistically from one another (as per single-variable or canonical-discriminant analyses). Second, we demonstrated that amebas themselves could discriminate self (clone) from different (themselves versus other clones). In mix-cell-line cultures between closely-related (E. invadens IP-1 versus E. invadens VK-1:NS) or distant-phylogenetic clones (E. terrapinae versus E. moshkovskii Laredo), amebas consistently aggregated with same-clone members. Third, we identified six putative cell-signals secreted by the amebas and which known functions in Entamoeba spp. included: cell proliferation, cell adhesion, cell movement, and stress-induced encystation. To our knowledge, this is the first multi-clone characterization of Entamoeba spp. morphometrics, aggregative behavior, and cell-signaling secretion in the context of clone-recognition. Protists allow us to study cell-cell recognition from ecological and evolutionary perspectives. Modern protistan lineages can be central to studies about the origins and evolution of multicellularity.”

Conclusion

Again, I would like to quote the first article: “…because protists are among the most ancient organisms on Earth, belong to multiple taxonomic groups and occupy all environments, they can be central to reexamining traditional hypotheses in the field of kin recognition, reformulating concepts, and generating new knowledge [to our current understanding of the origins and evolution of multicellularity].” – GPC – Evolution Literacy.

You can contact Guillermo Paz-y-Miño-C via email at guillermo.pazyminoc@gmail.com

UniCellular Eukaryotes or Protists

Protists are among the most ancient organisms on Earth; they belong to multiple taxonomic groups and occupy all environments. Studies with protists can be central to generating new knowledge to our current understanding of the origins and evolution of multicellularity.

Suggested Readings and Note

JEUK-MICRO - COVER - May-June 2016Article I: Paz-y-Miño-C, G. & Espinosa A. 2016. Kin Discrimination in Protists: From Many Cells to Single Cells and Backwards. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 63: 367-377. DOI: 10.1111/jeu.12306.

Article II: Strassmann, J. E. 2016. Kin Discrimination in Dictyostelium Social Amoebae. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 63: 378-383. DOI: 10.1111/jeu.12307.

Article III: Espinosa, A., Paz-y-Miño-C, G., Hackeya, M. & Rutherford, S. 2016. Entamoeba Clone-recognition Experiments: Morphometrics, Aggregative Behavior, and Cell-signaling Characterization. Journal of Eukaryotic Microbiology 63: 384-393. DOI: 10.1111/jeu.12313.

I also suggest to explore the paper that inspired the organization of the ECOP-ISOP 2015 symposium:

Espinosa, A. & Paz-y-Miño-C, G. 2014. Evidence of Taxa-, Clone-, and Kin-discrimination in Protists: Ecological and Evolutionary Implications. Evolutionary Ecology DOI 10.1007/s10682-014-9721-z.

* Darwin (1859) speculated about the “puzzle of the sterile social insects,” in which female workers at a nest dedicate their lives to the persistence of the colony (structured around a large progeny), via assisting a fertile queen to reproduce with the available males. Darwin suggested that, in such cases of apparent sacrifice —by the workers— for the good of all, “selection may be applied to the family.” But, in the late 1800s, he could not offer a detailed mechanistic explanation for the latter. Fisher (1930) and Haldane (1932, 1955) wrestled with the genetics and mathematics of altruism and the anecdotic expression “I would lay down my life for two brothers or eight cousins” became legacy of their work. Hamilton (1964) and Maynard-Smith (1964) further reasoned that the ability to discriminate between close and distant genetic relatives could be directly linked to survival and reproductive success, and, ultimately, to kin selection (Maynard-Smith 1964, 1977). — For references, go to source.