Random bits 5

I see the maize genome is out today. That's pretty big news (in my little world, anyway), so I want to take my time before I comment. You'll find the articles at Science and at PLoS Genetics. I've got a lot of reading to do.

In other news, PNAS has a really nifty article by Bunce et al. on ancient DNA of New Zealand moas. Moas are those giant flightless birds that went extinct about 600 years ago. The (nonauthoritative) NCBI taxonomy database lists 14 different species in two families. Bunce et al. sampled 263(!) different moa specimens to reconstruct both the species phylogeny as well as a new view of the paleogeography of these species. They argue that the main morphological radiation of moas took place on the South Island. Definitely worth reading.

At least two creationists have now weighed in with their opinions of the Darwin biopic Creation, directed by John Amiel. John Mackay's website has a quasi-review signed by British creationist John Peet. Peet didn't like blasphemous comment uttered by the Huxley character and advises Christians not to see it. Meanwhile, Paul Garner thought it was a lovely film, but he also didn't like the blasphemy. He says it's "worth catching if you have the opportunity." According to the Newmarket Films website, Creation will open in limited release in the United States beginning January 22, 2010.

And finally, if you follow the creation/evolution news, you probably already heard about Ray Comfort's giveaway of copies of Origin of Species that include an antievolutionary introduction by Comfort himself. Frankly, I'm not a big fan of this scheme, but I'm keen to get a copy of this book for the CORE library. In a weird twist, despite the fact that copies will be available from Comfort's website for just $4.99 + shipping, there's currently a copy on eBay going for $20.01! Who is bidding on this? Seriously, who wants this book? Are there that many people out there that actually want a copy of this creationist-doctored Origin? And are they so unwilling to give Comfort $5 that they'll overpay on eBay? People are weird.