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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Did spiders respond to light for building webs before artificial light was invented?

I have noticed that during summer, beautiful spider colonies grow wherever a strong light is: I'm wonder whether spiders evolved to seek naturally lighted areas where they build nests (before ...
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112 views

Which was the last significant event in human evolution? What's next?

At 10.000 BC (12 ka), we became the last of the Homo species on Earth. In evolutionary terms this is a very little time range to something happen, but I'm wondering anyway, in this meantime which are ...
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540 views

Why do different humans look different?

Although farmers appear to be able to tell their cows apart, cows look very much alike to me. And this similarity in appearance seems to be a general trail across the animal kingdom: one individual of ...
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142 views

Birds and Dinosaurs

This came up in an argument with some friends. I know that birds are direct descendants of dinosaurs, shown pretty clearly through the fossil record. However, is it proper to say that birds are ...
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117 views

Why are some fungi poisonous?

There are many poisonous fungi in nature. For example Amanita Phalloides. What reasons could a fungus need poison for? Some species, like venomous snakes, use poison to kill other species as prey. ...
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144 views

What's the Evolutionary Purpose of Religion? [closed]

I would imagine the answer to this question would be that religion tends to cause greater compliance of individuals within society, so it is pro-society. Plus these religions tend to incorporate some ...
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65 views

Evolution, What would the first plants have been like?

I am curious what the first plants are thought to have been like, what they may have evolved from, and how much earlier (or later) than animals they are thought to have moved to land, if they even ...
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102 views

Is greed an evolved trait?

Thanks for looking. I am not a biologist, but I am fascinated by evolution. I was watching the news this morning and, as so often is the case, there was a news story about a corrupt politician who ...
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179 views

What is the difference between these terms: clade, monophyletic group and taxon?

Wikipedia definitions for these terms are pretty similar: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Clade http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monophyletic_group http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Taxon They sound like the ...
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59 views

Book recommendations for evolutionary models

I was recently working on getting a statistical model of a DNA sequence. To do this I found that understanding evolution quantitatively seems to be quite important. I would really appreciate any book ...
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89 views

Effect on fitness of mutations

What is the distribution/probability density function (PDF) of impacts on fitness of new mutations? I very welcome any partial answer that does not give the whole PDF but just some information ...
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199 views

Why does ear wax taste sour?

Why does ear wax taste sour? I am interested in both the physiochemical mechanisms and the evolutionary reasons behind the sour taste of earwax.
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68 views

Aren't current explanations for the evolution of human cooperation a little too reductionist?

Lately, I've become a believer in the limits of reductionist explanations especially in areas like complex systems and biology. So, without wasting any more time, I'll get to my question.. Whenever ...
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100 views

Can we say that microevolution and macroevolution is fundamentally the same thing over different time scales?

This Wikipedia article states: Macroevolution is evolution on a scale of separated gene pools. Macroevolutionary studies focus on change that occurs at or above the level of species, in contrast ...
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172 views

Eusociality and Natural selection?

Eusociality, particularly focusing on the presence of certain altruistic sterile organisms within the social set-up creates questions as to why would the process of natural selection have favoured the ...
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225 views

Does evolution destroy functional sequences much faster than it creates them in any large-genome animal with low reproductive rates?

Recently I have found myself in a discussion with a guy that isn't a creationist, but denies evolution. He cites several studies that show problems like this one, but I do not have the knowledge to ...
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968 views

What are the differences between G+ and G- bacteria?

The distinction between Gram-positive and Gram-negative bacteria is based upon the Gram staining method, that reflects the bacterial wall physical properties. However, this classification involves ...
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30 views

Does documentation exist that shows the evolutionary connection between common horses and the okapi?

I'm trying to put together some documentation on the relation between the common (modern) horse and the okapi. I've found a tree that shows that connection but it has no references. I'm hoping that ...
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76 views

Has any creature ever devolved to be cold blooded? [closed]

Is this even possible? Because I have a non-scientific gut feeling that it is irreversible. Whales and dolphins are evolved from land mammals, and they've remained warm blooded while it doesn't give ...
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130 views

On evolution statistics [closed]

This basic evolution theory question has been haunting me since childhood and I'm kind of embarrassed that I can't explain it yet: Consider a butterfly. It's wings have evolved to look like the eyes ...
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73 views

Why are hens so different from other birds? [closed]

Hens lay many eggs during their lifetime (at least, I don't know of one which can lay more eggs) and they can't fly. Compared to other domestic animals it seems to me they are the least capable of ...
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78 views

What is the evolutionary reason behind human preference for salty foods?

It's been established that food palatability is related to it's caloric density. This hypothesis is used to explain why humans are partial to sugar and fat. But it is also said that humans are partial ...
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68 views

definition of tempo and mode in evolution

I am reading Punctuated Equilibria: The Tempo and Mode of Evolution Reconsidered, which mentions the "tempo" and "mode" of evolution. I'm not familiar with the related literature and when I google the ...
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38 views

Dominance/recessivity of new mutations

What is the distribution/probability density function (PDF) of recessivity/dominance of new mutations? I very welcome any partial answer that does not give the whole PDF but just some information ...
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103 views

Is Natural Selection like a Copy Editor?

I am stuck on a Homework Question. It says: Evaluate the following statement: “Natural selection works like a copy editor; it works only with what is already present in a population.” (Note: ...
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437 views

Evolution- Variations, adaptations and selective advantages

I am trying to understand Variations, adaptations and selective advantages and how they are all related. Feel free to add or correct me if I'm wrong- Variations are structural, functional, or ...
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193 views

Cats, Dogs and Bears - how are they related?

What is the ancestral relationship between cats, dogs and bears? I presume they are more closely related to one another than other paraphyletic clades of mammal. Which came first? What did their ...
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136 views

What is the most recent non-primate ancestors of humans?

If we go down the evolutionary tree of humans, (Homo sapiens, Homo erectus, ...), what will be the first non-primate ancestors?
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193 views

Does a fully-resolved phylogenetic tree have to be dichotomous?

I read that wherever there is polytomy there is an unresolved pattern of divergence. I don't understand why this is so. When divergence takes place, is it necessary that there will be division into ...
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198 views

Has medical progress stopped human evolution?

We can cure many diseases nowadays, and thus the natural selection is very limited. Plus, mankind spent the whole beginning of its existence in almost the same hostile environment, and that's where he ...
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112 views

Lineage selection in plasmid evolution

I've been reading through Paulsson (2002) and I am not sure what he means by "lineage selection" in the second to last section. The paper deals with plasmid replication, and mostly concentrates on the ...
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119 views

Plants without bacteria? is it theoretically possible?

I know from school, that all live on the Earth need bacteria as low-level "machines" that break down/extract/convert/produce chemical elements and combinations, other high-level organisms needed. But ...
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31 views

Definitions of robustness and canalization

The concepts of robustness and canalization are fashionable today in the biology literature. However, I am not sure of their definitions and I am not sure either that all authors actually use the same ...
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57 views

Can we influence evolution by teaching primates to control fire? Should we?

Most people with a strong interest in biology will have heard of Kanzi the Bonobo, the ape that has the wherewithal to collect fuel for a campfire and play pac-man. But is it conceivable to influence ...
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61 views

Is the mutation rate in organisms in general consistent over the genome?

Coming from computer science with an interest in genetic programming (a process emulating evolution) I'm curious about whether the rate of mutation is homogeneous across the whole genome, or if some ...
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52 views

Periodic Muscular Growth in Humans

If a healthy human is at a certain muscle state and then experiences muscular atrophy solely due to disuse/lack of exercise, is it easier to gain that muscle back than if the human had never reached ...
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47 views

Various Genetic Loads and their Definitions

In population genetics, we talk about several types of genetic loads (also called just loads). I am asking for a exhaustive list and a short definition. Here are for example some genetic loads that ...
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76 views

Coalescent theory - independence of coalescent times

Let $T_i$ be the time to coalesce from $n(t)=i+1$ to $n(t)=i$, where $n(t)$ is the number of sites that have not coalesced yet. In the below example the maximum $n(0)=6$. As I understand it, many ...
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52 views

How would a different solar day affect evolution?

Has anyone theorized how evolution would be affected by a different length of solar day, what were the conclusions? The thought came from thinking about life on other planets/moons, but I'm initially ...
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31 views

Coalescent Theory - Probability for $k$ alleles that of one coalescence event occured $t+1$ generations ago

From this textbook Under the wright-Fisher model of genetic drift and under the assumption that all alleles are neutral, the probability that $k$ alleles had $k$ distinct parent alleles the previous ...
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49 views

List of the biggest companies that work in selective breeding

Looking at this question, I've been wondering, What are the biggest private companies which work in both animal and non-animal selective breeding? Let me know if Biology.SE is not appropriate for ...
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94 views

building intelligent structure with random evolution requires series of non useful steps

In order to build an intelligent design such as a bridge or a mechanical watch, you need a series of non useful steps. As far as I understand, in random evolution theory, the "intelligence" involved ...
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69 views

Evolution, self organization and neuroscience

I have rudimentary knowledge of evolution, and biology in general, so bear with me if this question is a bit naive. Let's say we have a particular trait, like highly sensitive peripheral vision. ...
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90 views

Definition of “Regime of selection”

How would you define Regime of selection (or Selection regime)? In addition to a accurate definition, a developped example ...
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80 views

Rate of Evolution of population of long lived individuals

Is it necessary that rate of evolution of longer lived trees will be lesser than that of annuals ? I understand that new individuals will come up faster in annuals and it may adapt to varying ...
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50 views

Systematic difference of diversity between sister taxa?

When looking broadly at the tree of life, my feeling is that, after a divergence there is almost systematically one taxon that speciates way more than the other. (There will have some approximations ...
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82 views

Would it be possible/plausible for a type of spider to fly by weaving web between it's legs to create bat-like wings?

I've been thinking about this lately. Would it be possible for a type of spider to gain the ability to fly freely by weaving its web between it's legs and creating wings much like those of a bat? Is ...
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116 views

Which texts are good for beginners to understand evolution on the genetic scope?

Are there good texts to study the evolution, how it works, and how mutations and changes lead to evolution of the organism ? And how does the information increase through the long time using ...
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99 views

Agony, Hydrophobia and viruses in the light of evolutionary principles

I'm undergraduate physics student, but I've always been interested in biology. So I have a couple of questions about an application of the evolutionary principles to practice. Agony as the last ...
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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 ...