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 is the purpose of narwals' tusks?

I've heard that narwals can grow their tusks up to 16 ft long. What do they need the tusk for? Hunting? Comunication?
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67 views

Mutation Rate in Multicellular Eukaryotes

I always hear people saying that the mutation rate is around $10^{-6}$ or $10^{-7}$. I don't even know if this number is the mutation rate of genes or of a single nucleotides and I actually (almost) ...
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111 views

Fecundity per woman in early humans

The average fecundity per woman varies a lot from country to country. I call average fecundity per woman the average number of born children per woman. In Homo sapiens, what was the average fecundity ...
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99 views

Main mechanism of the evolution of sexual dimorphism

Sexual dimorphism is very common and (normally) requires the evolution of sex-specific genetic variation/regulation so the genetic correlation between the sexes can be <1. Is there consensus as to ...
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465 views

Soft and Hard selection

Seems to me that these two sources (M. Whitlock, B. Wallace) use different definitions of soft and hard selection. M. Whitlock: Soft selection occurs when the relative fitness of an individual is ...
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140 views

Are people genetically predisposed to being interested in specific fields/ideas? How does specialization occur?

I'm not sure if I formulated my question well, but I'm curious about a couple statements made by Steven Pinker and and James Heckman. In this interview: ...
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95 views

Heterozygosity under genetic drift

The wright-Fisher model of genetic drift is: $$p_{ij} = \binom{2N}{j}\left(\frac{i}{2N}\right)^j \left(1- \frac{i}{2N}\right)^{2N-j} $$ ,where $\binom{2N}{j}$ is a binomial coefficient. From this ...
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84 views

Evolution from Mating types to different sexes

Imagine a lineage of multicellular organisms that had mating types and evolved their mating types into sexes. What are the possible mechanisms that might have brought this lineage to evolve sexes from ...
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350 views

Why ducklings are yellow?

Why ducklings are yellow, what the evolutionary background for this? How could it help to survive? UPDATE I agree with comment below, I did remember then that ducks are wild animals too (when I ...
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150 views

How did the activities of protocells become inheritable?

I have learned that first a protocell came to exist and its characteristics came to be passed on by genetic material. So how come genes for all the activities come to incorporate into genetic ...
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293 views

Is there an “Adam and Eve” for each new trait during (not just human) evolution? [duplicate]

Do new beneficial mutation evolve simultaneously and independently with several individuals of the same specie or only with one specimen who then transfers it to all of the specie? In other words, ...
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74 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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78 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 ...
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487 views

Can parents' learned traits be transmitted genetically?

I am wondering whether a behavioral trait (e.g. fear or stress experienced in the lifetime of the parent) can be transmitted genetically to its offspring? I understand that a behavioral tendency for ...
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66 views

Is there a schema for how human behavior is genetically determined?

It seem one can distinguish three different kinds of genetic determinism of common patterns of human behavior: behavior that is directly wired into our nervous system, e.g. face-related mirror ...
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83 views

Why do cows (and other hooved animals) need a hierarchy?

Clearly numerous animals have a hierarchy - hereditary one. For example, I understand zebras have a pecking order, and must map this hierarchy from highest to first in line and lowest to last in line ...
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56 views

Why do spiders make their web near the ceiling and near a light source?

Why do spiders make their webs near the ceiling and near light sources ? Is their an advantage for spiders in doing that? For example do they catch more insects when their web is near a light source ...
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189 views

Differences between Gradualism and Uniformitarianism

From what I understand, gradualism is the idea that small changes affect species over time. Uniformitarianism argues that the same processes that occurred in the past are the same as those in the ...
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59 views

What is the most recent well-attested common ancestor of chimpanzees and humans?

Humans and chimpanzees are related and thus have a most recent common ancestor. Of course pinning down this precise point is essentially impossible, so I'm interested in close ancestors of this most ...
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103 views

Horizontal gene transfer versus convergent evolution

There are several often noted examples of convergent evolution (eyes, bat/bird wing evolution etc.) How do we rule out horizontal gene transfer in these cases?
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355 views

How does GC-content evolve?

Background GC-content refers to the frequency of base pairs that are either C or G in the genome, or in other words the number of GC base pairs divided by the addition of the number of GC base pairs ...
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97 views

Book recommendation on selective breeding?

I am looking for a good book that gives a nice overview of the science and technics of selective breeding. I am particularly interested in the use of population genetics to support decision in this ...
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89 views

Chromosome 2 alternate explanation - apes gaining a set of chromosomes?

I'm preparing for a debate (just between friends) on evolution (I'm in support), and one of the points I plan to bring up is the Chromosome 2 evidence. I'm now trying to predict their potential ...
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82 views

Chemoautotrophy in large organisms?

The major nutritional mechanisms include chemoautotrophy, heterotrophy (including parasitism and saprotrophy) and photoautotrophy. All of these modes of nutrition developed first in prokaryotic ...
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158 views

Empirical evidence for Group Selection?

A controversial concept in Biology "Group Selection", has caused confusion and conflict amongst scientists since the since the mid 1990s. The more general realm of study is termed the "unit of ...
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53 views

Are there cannibalistic k-selectors?

My understanding of r- and k-selectors does not go deeper than the wikipedia article. I understand k-selectors to be creatures that put tendentially more effort and energy into rearing their ...
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40 views

Estimation of number of species at an earlier time

The estimated number of species on Earth, as reported in this article is around 8.7 million. I am fascinated by how nature produces such a wide variety of species. As per my understanding, many ...
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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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239 views

Short-term Lamarckism in asexual single cell organisms

I was reading through the Karr et al. (2012) whole-cell computational model. One of the things they did was to induce single-gene disruptions in their model. They observed several to be fatal, but: ...
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26 views

Wolbachia - cytoplasmic incompatibility

I read that cytoplasmic incompatibility in Wolbachia occurs when wolbachia-infected male insects mate with wolbachia-free female insects and produce non-viable offspring. By contrast, ...
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44 views

How to understand relatedness in an infinite island model?

My understanding is that the relatedness coefficient in kin selection models measures positive assortment. That is, altruism is more likely to evolve if altruists tend to interact with other ...
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31 views

Why do naked mole rats live in colonies with a queen?

What was the evolutionary advantage in having queens? Is it because the ones that had queen like tendencies in the new environment had kids that cooperated better giving higher chance of survival of ...
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79 views

Up to date, extensive documentary about dinosaurs?

I just finished reading the Wikipedia page about dinosaurs, and I very much enjoyed it. I knew that much of what I learned in the 80's as a child is (and was) incorrect, and now that I am a parent, I ...
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72 views

Largest direct ancestor of humans

Going back the genealogical lineage from present humans to the beginning of life, what was the biggest - in terms of body size or mass - animal in this sequence? More generally, what would a time vs. ...
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60 views

How many traits can a multivariate breeders equation handle?

The multivariate breeders equation (MBE) by Lande predicts the change in a trait $\Delta \bar z$ (response) as $\Delta \bar z = G \beta$ where $G$ is a genetic variance-covariance matrix and ...
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Understanding the meaning of $s$ and $t$ in a population genetics equation

Sewall Wright in this article (1937) at the end of page 313 gives the equation: $$\Delta q = (s+tq)q(1-q) \space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space(1)$$ This equation is an ...
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84 views

At what rate do chromosomal rearrangements occur?

How often does chromosomal rearrangements occur? i.e. what is the rate of chromosomal rearrangements? I am interested about these kind of chromosomal rearrangements that are passed on to the ...
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18 views

Evolutionary motivation behind number of neurons in DCMMP

I'm studying neuro-anatomy right now and I was surprised to learn that there are only three neurons along the Dorsal Column Medial Lemniscal Pathway (DMLP) which relays mechanical sensations from the ...
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98 views

Why do baby mammals tend to play? [closed]

Why do babies of any mammal tend to play ? From humans to small dog pups, cubs of a lion, baby bears, etc. *I am not sure if the tag I chose is correct or not. Please correct me if I'm wrong.
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51 views

Inbreeding Coefficient and Coefficient of Relationship

Wikipedia gives the following formula to calculate a "path of coefficient of relationship" between an ancestor $A$ and an offspring $O$: $$\rho_{AO} = 2^{-n} \left( \frac{1+f_A}{1+f_O} \right)^{1/2} ...
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27 views

What is the origin of viruses? How could they get both living and non-living characteristics? [duplicate]

I read that viruses are called intermediate between living and non-living particles. Well, if so, then where did they originate from? From living or non-living? If they originated from either living ...
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496 views

What is needed for a G-matrix?

I have been doing a lot of reading on quantitative genetics and the G- (and B-) matrix lately. I get the principle behind performing the analysis now but I am still not sure how to do it. I'd like to ...
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311 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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77 views

The selective pressure of contraceptives

Does it seem probable that the existence of contraceptives (which has reduced human reproduction to below survival-level in many populations) will be a completely new selective pressure on human ...
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167 views

Evolution (Reductionism)

My recent post was tagged as unclear so I wanted to re frame my question. Though I am a layman, I would love to read books and find the stuff, if I get an overall picture of intelligence factor. My ...
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310 views

Are we inevitable in the evolution?

Suppose we wind time back to the instance when life emerged on Earth and let evolution start over again, will human beings or any other kind of self-conscious animals evolve ultimately, inevitably? ...
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427 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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91 views

Before Evolution was proposed by Charles Darwin, what were the leading secular theories to explain how life developed? [closed]

Outside of evolution, what were the leading scientific schools of thought that Charles Darwin contented with when he published his evolution theory as way of natural selection in 1859?
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Is there an evolutionary purpose to armpit perspiration?

Given that most Americans seem to do fine using anti-perspirant, it got me wondering: is there an evolutionary purpose to underarm perspiration? I can't imagine it acts to attract the opposite sex. ...
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271 views

Where are the evolutionary “inbetweeners”? [closed]

The problem I've always had with evolution is the actual lack of variation between animals. More specifically, the lack of observable gradual change between species. Take for example the hammerhead ...