The birds' beauty belies their often menacing and destructive nature 

From loony left to loony righteousness

Under the scathing title "If there is no God, what is the Oxford atheist scared of?" Paul Johnson issued (in the Spectator on 16 March) a rousing challenge to Richard Dawkins to debate the existence of God in public with him. But no, says Johnson, the man is scared. Why else "his craven refusal to come out of his safe academic burrow and debate with me ... the existence or non-existence of God"? Johnson thinks Dawkins doesn't know whether he can do it: "He is unsure of his arguments, his cause and his skills. He is scared he would make a fool of himself in front of the world ..."

Teasing the nuts from the bolts

Science and Wonders: Conversations about Science and Belief by Russell Stannard, Faber, pounds 8.99; Science and religion continue to bicker over who owns what, says Colin Tudge

BOOK REVIEW / The eve of destruction

THE SIXTH EXTINCTION: Biodiversity and its Survival by Richard Leakey & Roger Lewin Weidenfeld pounds 18.99

Toads spring right-handed surprise

Toads are right-handed, according to a team of Italian and Australian biologists.

LETTER: When students turn to Jesus

From Dr Richard Dawkins

Art and science may both be ways of understanding the world, but that does not mean they are interchangeable enterprises. In fact, it's likely that a Richard Dawkins of the arts is an impossibility

Brian Eno asked an impertinent question earlier this week. Before handing the Turner Prize over to Damien Hirst he put this to the assembled gathering: "Why have the sciences yielded great explainers like Richard Dawkins and Stephen Jay Gould, while the arts routinely produce some of the loosest thinking and worst writing known to history?" An impertinent question, whatever its larger pertinence, because the gathering in front of him contained quite a few of the people responsible for that writing. He was rewarded for his frankness with a slightly uneasy murmur, the almost imperceptible sound of fur being rubbed the wrong way.

out there: Seeing (and feeling) is believing

Everyone has felt the sensation of being watched, only to turn round and discover that they are, indeed, being watched

Mail apologises over Powers libel

High Court: Actress earns 'substantial' damages over adultery claims


DARWIN'S DANGEROUS IDEA by Daniel C Dennett, Allen Lane pounds 25

Is adultery natural?


BOOK REVIEW; Once more into the gene pool

RIVER OUT OF EDEN: Richard Dawkins; Weidenfeld & Nicolson, pounds 9.99

Travels in conceptual space

Peter Bowler praises an authoritative account of the evolution of Darwin's genius; Charles Darwin: Voyaging Janet Browne Jonathan Cape £25

Sun, sand and sex-change turtles

The "Sunshine State" is running out of sand and Florida's desperate authorities want to transport replacement supplies from the Bahamas, 50 miles away.

Up the pole

Anthony Powell, in his diary, describes Dorothy Hodgkin as a hag and a biologist ("At Lady Maggie's..." 21 January). She was neither. I painted Hodgkin's portrait in 1987 (the painting now hangs at the Royal Society of Chemistry in Burlington House), and she had one of the most interesting faces I have ever seen, serene and beautiful, a face that reflected her character and her intellect.

Giant sperm that ensure paternity

Scientists have discovered the ultimate weapon in the battle of the sexes: giant sperm which guarantee that a male cannot be cuckolded.
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US film censors have ruled 'Pride' unfit for under-16s, though it contains no sex or violence
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and with no sign of Iraq army being able to make a successful counter-attack
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The exhibition nods to rich and potentially brilliant ideas, but steps back
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The Earth’s animal wildlife population has halved in 40 years
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