Evolutionary Imagery: Illustrating (And Distorting) The History Of Life
    By T. Ryan Gregory | August 21st 2010 06:21 PM | 4 comments | Print | E-mail | Track Comments
    About T. Ryan

    I am an evolutionary biologist specializing in genome size evolution at the University of Guelph in Guelph, Ontario, Canada. Be sure to visit


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    My talk on evolutionary imagery at the Centre For Inquiry.

    Here is a video posted by the Centre For Inquiry Canada of a talk I gave in Toronto a few months ago. Larry Moran was my gracious host, and there were some good discussions over beer not captured on camera. :-)

    The links mentioned in response to a question:

    Evolver Zone

    Understanding Evolution

    My paper on phylogenetic trees, and one on natural selection.


    Score!   I was just getting set to put this up on our Cool Links section.  When Larry Moran uses the term  'a real thrill' in regards to you, I'd say that's a heck of a compliment.
    T Ryan Gregory
    Yes indeed. We had a good time. Larry also gave a talk at Guelph some time ago. Don't think I haven't noticed the irony of having a line-up as the default "evolution" image!
    I did start laughing in that 'oh, now I get it even more' way when you showed the Google search and they were all lineups.   Darwin's actual 'I think' can't be prettied up much but your inverted tree (the one you showed that was more intuitive after the 'who is more closely related to fish one'?(1)) would look pretty good, if we can use that.   Or if you can recommend a graphic.   

    I especially liked when you got into the phylogeny examples and I think it is not so much difficult for people to understand as it is for people to describe in a way others can understand.  I understand it fine but have a hard time describing it to people.   Getting them all to watch 10 minutes of your video would work but most answers (in public) need to be about 45 seconds.

    (1) I got it wrong too at first glance because of physics.  When things are running parallel with electricity and one termination is closer, it is actually closer.  But your corrected one made it pretty obvious.
    T Ryan Gregory
    Thanks.  I am getting more and more interested in doing short videos to tackle specific evolutionary concepts and misconceptions. Science 2.0 would be a good place to post them for sure.