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Happy Darwin Day!: Feb 12, 2009

Two hundred years ago today, Charles Darwin was born and, 50 years after that, his Magnus opus, On the Origin of Species, was published. People around the globe are celebrating Darwin Day -- Google honors Darwin with a picture on its home page -- and perhaps some people are following Jonathan Eisen's suggestions of naming your kid 'Darwin' or voting against support of intelligent design. A blow to the ID movement came at a papal-organized conference where the Vatican announced that evolution is consistent with the Christian faith. At SciAm an "interview" with Darwin discusses his life, how his work has been perceived, and his growing faithlessness. A descendent of Darwin, his great-great grandson Matthew Chapman, spoke with Chris Mooney about living in the shadow of Darwin.

Others took this anniversary as a chance to point out what Darwin messed up on -- much of it because genes and molecular biology weren't yet known. An essay in the New York Times by Carl Safina says that Darwin must be killed so that evolution is no longer only equated with Darwin's ideas. Evolving Thoughts' John Wilkins writes in Resonance that while admirable, Darwin is no saint.

Finally, the Washington Post discusses today's searches for signs of natural selection in humans. "We are really just beginning to see the landscape of human evolution. We're working toward a coherent picture of how we evolved over time," Harvard's Pardis Sabeti says.

The Scan

Pig Organ Transplants Considered

The Wall Street Journal reports that the US Food and Drug Administration may soon allow clinical trials that involve transplanting pig organs into humans.

'Poo-Bank' Proposal

Harvard Medical School researchers suggest people should bank stool samples when they are young to transplant when they later develop age-related diseases.

Spurred to Develop Again

New Scientist reports that researchers may have uncovered why about 60 percent of in vitro fertilization embryos stop developing.

Science Papers Examine Breast Milk Cell Populations, Cerebral Cortex Cellular Diversity, Micronesia Population History

In Science this week: unique cell populations found within breast milk, 100 transcriptionally distinct cell populations uncovered in the cerebral cortex, and more.