Tagged Questions

Changes in the heritable attributes of populations of organisms over time. Major mechanisms include drift, natural selection, mutation, and gene flow (migration).

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8
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2answers
138 views

How can a three-base codon evolve from a two-base codon?

Inspired by this question among others. It's widely suggested that the current 3-base codon system of encoding protein sequences in DNA evolved from an earlier 2-base codon system. This makes sense ...
3
votes
2answers
849 views

Why do some animals have 8 Limbs (e.g. Spiders, Octopuses)?

Octopuses have 8 tentacles, spiders have 8 legs. Is there something special about 8? It seems like an animal that needs 360° mobility has 8 legs.
10
votes
3answers
606 views

Mathematical Modelling of Natural Selection

I'm a math undergrad looking for some papers on modelling the process of natural selection. The only paper I've been able to find is by the pre-eminent mathematician Herbert Wilf from 2010, There's ...
4
votes
2answers
294 views

Extraretinal photoreception in mammals? [duplicate]

A Finnish firm Valkee sells light-ear-plugs against thing such as jetlag. I asked a researcher in Aalto university how do they really work and he responded ...
6
votes
3answers
359 views

Why people like to see pornographic scenes, but do not feel the same about eating scenes?

This question may seem funny, but I think biology must have good answers. I think no more explanation is needed. I really thought about this and searched for an answer, but there is nothing yet. If ...
1
vote
4answers
758 views

Refutation of Darwin's Random Evolution Theory [closed]

I saw this refutation online of Darwin's Random Evolution Theory and cannot see any holes with the logic. Can anyone crack this simple refutation? Refutation of the Theory of Random Evolution ...
2
votes
2answers
100 views

Are humans still competing in the same way now that the first life forms did?

I'm not sure if this is actually a philosophical question, but I was reading a timeline of life on earth and I came to this: 4500-3500 Ma The earliest life appears, possibly at Alkaline vents ...
0
votes
2answers
618 views

Why have humans evolved conciousness?

Why did humans/animals evolve to become self-aware of their own thoughts. That is, why don't humans act and compute like a machine, or walking zombie. In my mind, such creatures would still be as ...
3
votes
4answers
785 views

What evolutionary reason is there for having the urinary duct and reproductive organs so close together?

As the old joke goes, "God must have been a civil engineer. Who else would put a waste facility straight through a recreational area?" But maybe it wasn't God. Is there any evolutionary reason (or ...
4
votes
1answer
282 views

Why are eggs “egg” shaped?

Is there a reason as to why chickens lay "egg" shaped eggs, as opposed to spherically shaped eggs (or a random shape)? <--- Main Question For extra points (actually just to add more words in ...
8
votes
3answers
3k views

Why does human facial and head hair continue to grow?

Many people can grow extremely long head hair and facial hair. Are there evolutionary theories as to why this is the case? It seems like having long hair could be a disadvantage, and extremely long ...
4
votes
1answer
158 views

Evolutionary explanation to why we have such large memory capacities?

The scientific consensus is that no one ever fills up their memory capacity by learning facts and so on, even in the information age. My question is therefore, is there an evolutionary reason as to ...
2
votes
1answer
65 views

Historical recovery from mass extinction events

Is there a way to generally characterize how species "regrew" after the various mass extinction events happening periodically from 450 Ma to 65 Ma. Would the surviving species just start back where ...
3
votes
1answer
92 views

Would ovoviparous to viviparous mutation have been gradual? How would that work?

It seems unlikely that an ovoviparous ancestor of mammals long ago could have had a viviparous offspring in a sharp one-generation dividing line, but what would be the gradual steps between egg birth ...
1
vote
1answer
108 views

Interlocus Contest Evolution means suicide?

I was reading Matt Ridley's "Genome" book. I am trying to understand the Interlocus Contest Evolution in his X-Y chapter. I do not understand why the X and Y chromosome would want to kill each other. ...
3
votes
3answers
1k views

Why does the apex of the human heart usually point to the left?

In the majority of human beings, the apex of the heart (left ventricle) points towards the left side of the body. Sometimes however (approx. 1/12000 births), a person is born with a condition known ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

Why Is Most Life Symmetrical Externally But Not Internally?

Mammals, reptiles, arachnids, insects, etc are all as far as I am aware symmetrical in appearance. Take a human for instance, make a line from the top of our head right down the middle. However, ...
4
votes
2answers
764 views

Chromosome 2 fusion?

I read this article by Jeffrey Tomkins and Jerry Bergman claiming to debunk chromosome 2 fusion. Is there anything wrong with these conclusions? " 1.The reputed fusion site is located in a ...
13
votes
2answers
382 views

Evolution in 37 years, is it possible?

I am confused, can evolution ( speciation ) really occur in such a short time ? In 1971, biologists moved five adult pairs of Italian wall lizards from their home island of Pod Kopiste, in the ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

What is the evolutionary rationale for palm sweating?

Sweaty palms seems to be a reaction to stress, anxiety, etc. For our forest-inhabiting primate ancestors sweaty palms could cause unwanted side-effects such as slipping off tree branches under ...
1
vote
1answer
85 views

Colonial Cells Demonstrating Cell Specialization

Are there any living examples of cellular colonies demonstrating very primitive cellular specialization? If so, what do we know about how they assimilate? How independent are the individual cells ...
3
votes
2answers
1k views

Is there any complex organism that is both autotroph and heterotroph?

Possibility also include "adaptation mode" if such exist. I don't discern whether autotrophic/heterotrophic part play only minor role either.
4
votes
3answers
145 views

Good book on Origin of Life [closed]

What is a book that goes into reasonable detail (but isn't textbook-level technical) about the origin of earth and in particular the origin of life on earth? Something intended for a broad audience, ...
7
votes
2answers
178 views

What measures are commonly used for the complexity of an organism?

I'm aware of measures like number of distinct cell types being used as a measurement of complexity in biology, for example in the G-value paradox. But this doesn't really help for unicellular ...
2
votes
1answer
114 views

How can I compare rates of evolution for two sets of proteins?

I have a list of candidate proteins as the result of my analysis. I am now trying to find various characteristics that they have in common. One of the things I would like to check is if my candidates ...
5
votes
2answers
169 views

How to get smallest subtree containing a set of nodes from BioPhylo?

I'm testing out various phylogenetic libraries in Python. I want to read in a Newick tree, then, given a list of taxa, generate the smallest tree that contains them all. This task is quite simple and ...
3
votes
1answer
68 views

Nucleotide frequencies in Kimura's two-parameter model

Here's an excerpt about Kimura's two-parameter model from Felsenstein's Inferring Phylogenies: "The model is symmetrical, and one can immediately see that, after enough time has elapsed, it ...
2
votes
1answer
71 views

Are genes associated with obesity selected for?

I've read that there are several SNPs associated with increased risk of clinical or morbid obesity. I was wondering if there is any evidence that these are under positive selection. Would you expect ...
3
votes
2answers
94 views

Is there a timeline for the frequency of evolution of any species?

Evolution is traditionally spoken of as an inherited change over generations. Does evolution happen one change at a time - or are there multiple changes occurring between two successive generations? ...
2
votes
1answer
196 views

What are evolutionary implications of contraception and reduced childhood mortality rates worldwide?

I've heard the following idea this morning: Before the introduction of contraception, humans conceived quite a lot of babies (there was little to do to avoid that), but the population was kept in ...
8
votes
3answers
2k views

Why is Galapagos island so special?

I am not a biologist so the question may be very stupid. I have no idea. Why did Darwin formulate his theory of evolution just after his visit to the Galapagos island? Why is it so special from the ...
7
votes
1answer
217 views

What preceded ATP synthase?

ATP Synthase is ubiquitous throughout life on earth and so most probably evolved within the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) before that lineage diversified into the various kingdoms of life. ...
-5
votes
1answer
165 views

I believe in variation of a species but not in evolution [closed]

I can see that variation within species exists, for example birds with various size beaks adapted for specific food-gathering purposes, one may have a larger beak vs. smaller beak, OK that works for ...
15
votes
5answers
3k views

Why are not all species hermaphrodites?

If a hermaphrodite animal (like slug, snail, etc) finds a partner they can mate immediately. If another animal with "normal" reproduction (lets say a mouse) finds a partner they can only mate if they ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

How did giraffes develop their rete mirabile failsafe?

Giraffes, being one of the tallest mammals in the world, have a failsafe called rete mirabile to prevent them from dying from excessive blood pressure while lowering their head.[1] Due to their long ...
2
votes
1answer
295 views

Fossils of intermediate stages?

If Humans are evolve from Monkeys, there must be stages in the evolution process, when it was 1% human and 99% monkey, 2% human and 98% monkey and so on. This is because evolution was a very slow ...
4
votes
1answer
174 views

Birds from the Family Columbidae Feed Young “Crop Milk”

Birds from the family Columbidae (e.g., doves and pigeons) produce a fatty, milk-like substance in their crop. The secretion is often referred to as "crop milk." They feed crop milk to their young ...
5
votes
1answer
134 views

What selective factors drove the evolution of lactose in lactation?

As far as I can determine, lactose, and the monosaccharide galactose have few biological uses outside of mammalian lactation. It not only required enzymes for its production, but enzymes in offspring ...
10
votes
4answers
1k views

Does pheomelanin have a useful biological function?

Melanin is a natural pigment that is categorized into two main forms, eumelanin and pheomelanin. It's well documented in the science literature that increased eumelanin levels reduces the risk of ...
2
votes
2answers
133 views

Is better healthcare a bane to the long-term survival of the human race?

The theory of natural selection has it that individuals with better genes tend to survive and reproduce, passing their genes to their offspring. This gradual process results in a population more ...
9
votes
2answers
308 views

Is there any evidence that a virus can modify human evolution

I was just reading Evolution of lactose tolerance, and in it one line says "But there was a time in human history when our diet and environment conspired to create conditions that mimicked those of a ...
15
votes
5answers
703 views

How is evolution possible in contemporary humans?

I would like to know if evolution is continuing to happen in modern humans, assuming things like existence of the nuclear family structure, fidelity to one partner, etc. It seems to me the answer ...
5
votes
1answer
194 views

What evolutionary pressures pushed Galápagos tortoises to mature so slowly and live so long?

I read that they take up to 40 years (in the wild) to reach the age of reproduction and are thought to live over 100 years, with one in captivity reaching over 170 years. Can someone explain in ...
4
votes
2answers
229 views

Were there lifeforms before LUCA?

This question got me thinking about something. LUCA is the last universal common ancestor of all current living organisms, which is a very different definition from the first-ever living organism. Is ...
6
votes
3answers
255 views

Are there genes in humans from the common ancestor of all organisms?

How long ago can human genes be traced? Are there any genes that go back unchanged to the beginning of life on Earth? And if so, how many?
15
votes
3answers
33k views

What is the difference between orthologs, paralogs and homologs?

These three terms are often misused in the literature. Many researchers seem to treat them as synonyms. So, what is the definition of each of these terms and how do they differ from one another?
14
votes
1answer
180 views

Has the human 7-day week had any impact on the evolution of species?

Most (if not all) industrialized countries follow a 7-day work week now, such that we are bound to follow a certain weekly trend in matters such as pollution generation, where to go (e.g. stay in town ...
8
votes
1answer
3k views

Why can't humans drink sea water?

Why can't humans drink sea water? It would seem to be a huge evolutionary advantage for an animal to be able to drink sea water rather than have to rely on fresh water, and it's provably not ...
2
votes
1answer
146 views

Can epigenetic changes affect reproductive success?

This is prompted by niallhaslam's answer to this question [Since Darwinian times, has there been any striking/notable effects of evolution on humans?]. A comment by Alan Boyd asks whether epigenetic ...
2
votes
1answer
54 views

Biology view on trait variability

In reading the annotated Origin... I have come to the following note by Costa on p. 168: Again, modern biologists would disagree with Darwin's idea that especially well-developed traits vary to a ...