The new field of "evo-devo"–an integration of evolutionary biology with our growing understanding of embryonic development–is an exciting a fruitful area of intense scientific research. A book purporting to "explore evolution" would do well to address this exciting field, yet the discussion in Explore Evolution is mired in disputes about what Darwin thought about embryos 150 years ago, and the legitimacy of illustrations by Ernst Haeckel 100 years ago.
In 2007, a new “intelligent design” book entitled Explore Evolution (“EE”) appeared on the market.
Explore Evolution is explicitly marketed to public school teachers. For example, at a 2008 Biola University symposium for science teachers a pitch was made for adopting Explore Evolution. The quote below comes from the symposium's website:
The study of evolution in the bacterial world is one of the most dynamic and exciting areas of current biological research. New analytical tools from molecular biology and the increasing wealth of data from genomics research are currently offering new insights into the nature of bacterial species and the mechanisms of speciation. These studies also promise to illuminate the early history of life on earth. Explore Evolution obscures this active area of research by claiming:
Antibiotic resistance comes from a variety of mechanisms, including changes in gene regulation, production of new genes with novel activities, as well as simple point mutations. All these mechanisms are representative of the kinds of mutation involved in the sorts of morphological change that Explore Evolution thinks are important. Explore Evolution misrepresents the basic biology of mutations and their significance in antibiotic resistance in claiming:
All antibiotic resistance that develops in bacteria can be traced back to mutations in bacteria that were originally susceptible to antibiotics. Explore Evolution is rather incoherent in its discussion of antibiotic resistance. It incorrectly presents antibiotic resistance as due to pre-existing coding in the bacterial population for different varieties of beta-lactamase (an enzyme that breaks down penicillin).
Explore Evolution claims:
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Gregor Mendel developed the laws of genetics by cross-breeding peas and observing how characteristics were passed from parent to offspring.
In some species, males engage in complex competitive behaviors, which in many cases necessitate growth of elaborate ornamental horns.