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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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
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1answer
279 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 ...
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3answers
2k 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 ...
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1answer
157 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
91 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 ...
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1answer
107 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. ...
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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 ...
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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, ...
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2answers
755 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 ...
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2answers
379 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
84 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 ...
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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.
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3answers
143 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, ...
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2answers
174 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 ...
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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 ...
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2answers
165 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
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1answer
64 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
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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 ...
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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? ...
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1answer
192 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
214 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. ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
290 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 ...
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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 ...
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1answer
133 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 ...
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4answers
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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 ...
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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
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2answers
307 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 ...
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5answers
690 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 ...
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1answer
193 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 ...
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2answers
222 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
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3answers
254 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?
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3answers
32k 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?
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1answer
179 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 ...
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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
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1answer
145 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 ...
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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 ...
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3answers
146 views

Since Darwinian times, has there been any striking/notable effects of evolution on humans?

I understand that evolution is constant process that acts on a population in successive generations. Thus, it is obvious that evolution is happening. However, I'm curious as to the stricking examples ...
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2answers
2k views

Is there an evolutionary reason for the 5 electron transport complexes in plants and animals?

The electron transport chains of both the light reactions of photosynthesis (in plants) and oxidative phosphorylation (in animals) both contain 5 complexes including ATP synthase, as shown below. ...
2
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1answer
51 views

Preserved alpha complementation over evolutionary time?

Has the result of alpha-complementation ever happened via mutation through evolutionary time, and been preserved in modern day organisms? In other words, has a functional gene product ever been split ...
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1answer
163 views

Is it possible to increase lifespan through controlled evolution?

A few years back when I was reading The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, there's this short passage where he theorizes about a way to achieve an increased lifespan through controlled evolution. The ...
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1answer
136 views

Why was polyploidy not lethal in certain octodontid rodents?

As discussed in Why is polyploidy lethal for some organisms while for others is not?, polyploidy is normally lethal in mammals. However, two species of Octodontidae (South American rodents), are ...
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1answer
355 views

Why did mammals evolve to have two testes?

What makes mammals tend to evolve to have two testes?
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2answers
93 views

Have proteins been observed to come into existence through mutations and natural selection?

What is an example of a functional protein that has been observed (in real time) to have come into existence through mutations and natural selection (not through an existing one being made defective). ...
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1answer
1k views

Why are some berries poisonous?

In my understanding, the evolutional function of berries is to be eaten and pood out somewhere else, so that the seeds of the plant spread. Is this so? Then why are some berries poisonous?