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Evolution, development, and random biological ejaculations from a godless liberal

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PZ Myers PZ Myers is a biologist and associate professor at the University of Minnesota, Morris.
zf_pharyngula.jpg …and this is a pharyngula stage embryo.
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The Santa myth is one of the most effective means ever devised for intimidating children, eroding their self- esteem, twisting their behavior, warping their values, and slowing their development of critical thinking skills.

[Tom Flynn, The Trouble with Christmas]

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"Pharyngula" is a term coined by William Ballard to describe a particular stage in the development of the vertebrate embryo. At the pharyngula stage, the vertebrate embryo

  • is at the phylotypic stage, an evolutionarily conserved period when vertebrate embryos of all species are most similar to one another.
  • has assembled at least the rudiments of most of the major organ systems.
  • is expressing the well-known series of Hox genes, regulatory genes responsible for patterning the embryo.
  • has a repeated series of pharyngeal arches. These are characteristic chordate tissues that form a 'basket' of cartilage and associated tissues in the throat; they contribute to jaws and facial structures, ear bones, gill arches, etc.

It's an interesting and important period of embryonic development, and happens to be the period my students and I spend a lot of time studying.

If you're wondering how to pronounce it, try "fa-RING-you-la" or "fa-RINJ-you-la."

About zebrafish...


My preferred experimental animal is the zebrafish, Danio rerio. The great thing about zebrafish for research in development is that they are prolific, producing many eggs every day, and that the embryos develop rapidly, reaching the pharyngula stage 24 hours after they are fertilized.


About UMM...


This is where I work, at the University of Minnesota, Morris, one of the four campuses of the University of Minnesota system. I'm a member of the biology discipline, within the Division of Science and Mathematics.

About me...

Paul Z. Myers

I'm an associate professor of biology at UMM. I can be contacted at, or by IM at or, and by phone at (320) 589-6343.


1985Ph.D. in Biology, Institute of Neuroscience,University of Oregon, Eugene, OR
1979B.S. in Zoology, University of Washington, Seattle, WA
1975-1976attended DePauw University, Greencastle, IN
1973-1975attended Kent-Meridian High School, Kent, WA


2003-Associate Professor, Division of Science and Math, University of Minnesota, Morris
2000-2003Assistant Professor, Division of Science and Math, University of Minnesota, Morris
1993-2000Assistant Professor, Department of Biology, Temple University
1991-1993Research Assistant Professor in the Department of Biology, University of Utah
1988-1991Post-doctoral research associate with Dr. Michael J. Bastiani in the Department of Biology, University of Utah
1985-1988VAX system manager and programmer for the Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon
1979-1985Graduate research with Dr. Charles B. Kimmel at the Institute of Neuroscience, University of Oregon

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