Carnival of Evolution #48: The Icelandic Saga!

At last! Here is the much delayed Carnival of Evolution 48!

I must begin by apologizing for my tardiness, especially since John Wilkins managed to post the last one on time. I was traveling in the 2½ weeks preceding the deadline for CoE, and the combination of spotty internet access, extreme jetlag (British Columbia to Germany to Iceland, where the sun hovered around the horizon all night long, just messed me up), and of course, the incredible distractions of exotic foreign lands, meant that I was disgracefully dilatory in putting it all together.

To reward your patience (or punish you all for allowing me to do this carnival), I thought I’d sprinkle the listing with some of my travel photos. Iceland is a lovely place; it’s also a strange place to consider evolution, in a land that’s only about 60 million years old and that is lacking in large animals (other than humans and their livestock), and mainly seems to be a place for rocks, lichens, mosses, fish, and small insects, as well as the busy bacteria…so in a sense it’s a place where we get back to the roots of evolution. Anyway, I’m just splattering the text with my photos; ignore them or get motivated to visit this gorgeous place.

On to the linkfest!

A placid lake


Wait a minute here…bacteria are where all the action is. I expected lots and lots of submissions about bacterial evolution, and this is all you give me? Come on, microbiologists, molecular biologists, and biochemists — give more next time.

Someday, it will fall


I’m a little disappointed here, too. As an evo-devo kind of fellow, I’m often castigated for neglecting the importance of botany in understanding evolution and development…and here again we see an important group underrepresented on the Carnival of Evolution. Get to work blogging, plant biologists!

A lovely little valley in a blasted landscape

Charismatic megafauna

Here we go. Animals are clearly very popular.


Why do we have more posts about people than about bacteria? Man, we’re a self-centered bunch.

A statue at the University of Iceland of a man smacking a devil/seal with a bible

Charismatic organs in charismatic megafauna

You know what’s really popular? The evolution of brains and penises.

Whale penises at the Phallological Museum in Reykjavik


Steaming pools of mud


It’s helpful to know where our ideas are coming from.

Erupting geyser


The Blue Lagoon spa


Here’s another popular category. Evolution is sociologically and politically contentious, even if it is scientifically rock-solid, so we have to spend a lot of time battling misconceptions and outright lies. Sometimes it’s aggravating, and sometimes it’s a source for hilarity.

Another waterfall. These things were everywhere!

A little bit of everything

At the foot of a very dirty glacier

I have to thank Hope, Einar, Þorsteinn, and Friða of Siðmennt for taking me about Iceland and instructing me on geology, and also thanks to Háskóli Íslands and Vantru for hosting me.

You can follow the Carnival of Evolution on Facebook, Twitter, or the CoE blog, and you can submit links to the next edition.

IMPORTANT NOTICE: There is currently no host scheduled for July or thereafter. Volunteer! It’s a good way to be compelled to carefully read a lot of excellent posts about evolution, so think of it as a learning experience.

A waterfall in Iceland


  1. otrame says

    Quite a few of those wonderful pictures look like areas that were, until very recently, under ice year round. I wonder why there is no ice there now?

  2. johnscanlon says

    This is a comment for Ken Weiss @ The Mermaid’s Tale in regard to part II of the Single Species Hypothesis post (here because Blogger ate it there when I tried to preview, post or sign in)

    I just read this in the post:

    other variants, found in the Neanderthal and Denisovan sequences but not in chimpanzees, are also found in humans. They seem to represent ancient variants later introduced (by interbreeding) into the our modern human lineage–you and me!

    Methinks you should have taken a harder look at the phrasing, because it reads like you either didn’t read the relevant articles properly, or assume that people of non-Eurasian descent (who have no Neandertal or Denisovan ancestry, as far as we know) can’t be reading your blog.

    It has to be said that eliding the distinction between chimpanzees and subsaharan African humans, when both are critical to the pattern of the evidence, looks really bad on you.

  3. =8)-DX says

    …tardiness forgiven. Um does that mean your being late had something to do with a Tardis? Or lack of one?

  4. frankathon says

    You went to the penis museum in Reykjavik! I’m so jealous! I went to Iceland a few months ago and it was dark all the time, it’s nice to see the same sites but with light. Thanks for sharing.

  5. Evader, the parasite-infested branch on the evolutionary tree says

    No my god that’s beautiful.

    I’ll have to get there eventually.

    Hmm, penis museum ey? o_o

    And that cathedral… WOW. Reminds me of Prague. Possibly my favourite style of architecture.

    Nice pics. Thanks for sharing Professor.