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November 28, 2014

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Duke professor talks evolution at UNLV

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In this Feb. 4, 2014 photo, Creation Museum head Ken Ham, right, speaks during a debate on evolution with TV's "Science Guy" Bill Nye, at the Creation Museum in Petersburg, Ky.

Duke University professor and evolution expert Mohamed Noor stood before the packed UNLV auditorium and pondered aloud the quirks of his job, the subject of his highly anticipated presentation Thursday night.

"Evolution is a funny field," Noor said jauntily as a photograph of "Science Guy" Bill Nye and creationist Ken Ham flashed behind him on a white projection screen — a reference to the duo's famous debate last month over evolution and biblical creation.

"How many fields out there within science do you have to justify actually existing?"

Noor's lively hourlong lecture — loaded with cheeky pop culture references on the evolution debate — was the latest installment of the school's annual Distinguished Lecturer Series, which has brought an internationally renowned biologist to the campus each year since 1991.

Evolutionary science — one of biology's core tenets — gives humanity a better knowledge of the world and it can be used to develop medicinal advancements, Noor said.

It was thanks to evolution, according to the professor, that a group of researchers last year found a way to potentially keep mosquitos from spreading dengue fever by infecting the insects with a bacterium that tinkers with their sex lives.

"Even in 2014, evolution is considered to be this controversial thing," Noor said with an incredulous chuckle. "The evidence is incontrovertible."

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