Changes in the heritable attributes of populations of organisms over time. The mechanisms of evolution are mutation, migration, drift, and selection.

learn more… | top users | synonyms

5
votes
1answer
379 views

Is greed an evolved trait?

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 was accepting ...
5
votes
1answer
92 views

Mathematical models of lineage selection

I'm interested in the concept of lineage selection (Aboitiz, 1991) as an explanation for why traits would be selected for that enhance the rate at which evolution can occur, rather than directly ...
3
votes
1answer
101 views

What color was the most recent common ancestor of all swans?

Was the most recent common ancestor of all swans black, or white, or some other color? How do we know, and how certain can we be?
16
votes
9answers
6k views

Why didn't the polar bear change its color from white to black during evolution to absorb heat?

Polar bears are white in color and white color is not a good absorbant of heat. Why then didn't they evolve a black color to absorb more heat?
18
votes
2answers
2k views

Is it known how the first viruses formed?

The oldest known virus is known to have infected prehistoric insects 300 million years ago. A virus is basically a parasitic strand if DNA or RNA encapsulated in a protein coat. It enters cells by ...
1
vote
1answer
29 views

What factors, other than its homochirality, make our “brand” of biology unique? [closed]

If humans were to discover organisms on another planet, it is supposed that (unless both we and they were seeded by the same source) we would have nothing to fear from alien pathogens, as they would ...
19
votes
2answers
1k views

Do plant-animal cross races exist?

Plants and animals have the following distinct properties: Plants live from solar energy by photosynthesis, they use solar energy to make sugar and oxygen out of carbon dioxide, which gives them ...
17
votes
2answers
6k views

How and why did mammals go back to the oceans?

If I understand evolutionary biology correctly, mammals first evolved on land as small, rodent-like creatures, in a time when reptiles were dominant on land. Eventually, they diversified into the ...
13
votes
2answers
430 views

Why, specifically, does each generation, on average, improve upon the design of the species rather than degrade it?

In every non-life example I can envision, a copy of a copy is always a degraded or less pure version of the original unless some outside influence acts to correct the copy back toward the ideal ...
2
votes
1answer
92 views

How did bullying arise evolutionarily?

By bullying, I mean individuals harassing others with name-calling or violence but not for the purpose of gaining resources such as with extortion or theft. The only explanation I've thought of is ...
4
votes
1answer
140 views

Fixation rate at neutral loci

It is a classical result that the expected time for a neutral mutation to occur and to get fixed is $2 N \mu \frac{1}{2N} = \mu$, where $N$ is the population size and $\mu$ is the neutral mutation ...
6
votes
4answers
519 views

What is the viability of Intelligent Design as a supplement to chemical abiogenesis and Darwinian Evolution?

First of all I am not endorsing Intelligent Design (Wikipedia link); I'm asking this because I (someone who does not have a background in biology, organic chemistry, or philosophy) got into a ...
1
vote
1answer
65 views

What is the minimum functional biological light sensor? [closed]

As a follow up to this question regarding the evolution of the eye, it was suggested that primitive eyes only needed to evolve a light sensor and could perhaps use the existing biochemical cascade ...
8
votes
2answers
556 views

Reasons why living fossils exist?

A living fossil is a living species (or clade) that appears to be similar to another species otherwise known only from fossils, typically with no close living relatives. A living fossil is ...
3
votes
2answers
210 views

What is the minimum eye?

What is the minimum eye which confers some evolutionary advantage? By minimum I mean anything less than this has no advantage whatsoever and therefore is not favored by natural selection. By eye, I ...
3
votes
2answers
200 views

What proves that speciation is a pairwise process? [duplicate]

I have been asked this questions by many biology students and even non-biologist without a pretty straightforward answer to give. We are quite accustomed to phylogenetic trees where a common ancestor ...
1
vote
1answer
69 views

Can life forms exist from simple structures not made of the four bases? [closed]

I understand that all life forms on the planet are made from adenine, gauatine, cytosine and thymine, which chemically joined together to form RNA or DNA (correct me if I'm wrong). This goes on to ...
1
vote
1answer
61 views

Examples of extant animals in a submature morphologically unstable evolutionary state?

I'm fascinated by evolutionary theory and the predictive aspect of it-the notion of an animal entering a strongly divergent state of evolution whereby it is evolving into a new form yet remains ...
2
votes
1answer
138 views

Why do Lapidaria margaretae look like stones?

Previous Research I stumbled across a trending reddit post "Lapidaria margaretae looks like stones" (as of 3rd Februrary 2015); but I could not find discussions as to reasons behind why. Question/s ...
33
votes
3answers
25k views

Why do eukaryotic organisms have introns in their DNA?

We touched on introns and exons in my bio class, but unfortunately we didn't really talk about why Eukaryotes have introns. It would seem they would have to have some purpose since prokaryotes do not ...
5
votes
3answers
298 views

Why do human ears have a lower boundary for the lowest energy perceivable signal than eyes?

I am currently hearing a lecture about human machine interaction. The lecturer is not a biologist (neither am I, we are both computer scientists), but he makes some statements about biology which I ...
4
votes
3answers
162 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 ...
3
votes
3answers
309 views

How is it possible for the absolute fitness to be more than 1?

The wikipedia definition of Absolute fitness is "the ratio between the number of individuals with that genotype after selection to those before selection. It is calculated for a single generation and ...
1
vote
0answers
150 views

Baby birds hair and mammal hair is a convergent evolution?

Chicks (baby of chickens) and ducklings seem to have fine hairs, at least something look like hairs to me. Most mammals have hairs, but reptiles, fish, or other animal groups do not have hairs as far ...
3
votes
1answer
38 views

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?
3
votes
1answer
2k views

Pros/cons: linear vs. circular DNA [duplicate]

Why did Eukaryotes evolve to have linear DNA and not circular like Prokaryotes? What are the pros and/or cons?
0
votes
1answer
59 views

Core architecture of the body encoding [closed]

First of all, I am not a biology guy; I am in Computer Science. But, I have a strong interest in all the mysteries of nature, from universe to human body. So, I want to ask a question related to ...
4
votes
7answers
817 views

Introductory books about evolution

This days I read some debates on evolution. That made me more interested to read something reliable on topic - I mean books. I'm christian - although I think it doesn't matter on that topic - and I ...
8
votes
1answer
533 views

Why aren't green eyes more prevalent?

Why aren't green eyes more prevalent, given that the green allele is dominant over the blue one? My understanding is that human eye colour is determined by two genes: 1) HERC2, with alleles Bx, BB ...
4
votes
1answer
125 views

Visualising a subset of the tree of life

I understand that many curated trees of life already exist (eg http://tolweb.org/tree/) but is there any website that allows one to input a list of organisms, and then produce the current best guess ...
2
votes
1answer
1k views

Female preference for males who are already in a relationship [closed]

A common saying is that women are generally more attracted towards men who are already in a relationship, and this phenomena does seem to have its own place in popular culture that is not matched by a ...
7
votes
4answers
721 views

If Evolution Is In Progress, Why Fight Extinction?

Natural selection is a central tenet of evolution. However, most biologists seem determined to prevent the extinction of the species that have been selected against. Why is this? Preservation of ...
1
vote
0answers
38 views

Why does death exist? [duplicate]

The biological purpose of an organism is to reproduce and as soon as reproductive age is passed, aging kicks in and eventually leads to death. (This is what I learned from a gerontologist.) But then, ...
4
votes
1answer
153 views

Why do the proportion of predators increase at mass extinction events?

Why does predation surge with mass extinction? It is caused by extreme selective pressures over resource competition that forces certain species to adapt to predatory niches?
7
votes
1answer
306 views

What evolutionary advantages are provided by ovoviviparity?

I read that some sharks are ovoviviparous. What advantages and disadvantages are provided by this type of reproduction as opposed to egg laying and live birth?
1
vote
0answers
145 views

First documented beneficial mutation?

I've been reading up on beneficial mutations, and am curious when we discovered and documented the first one. Can anyone point me to the first documented beneficial mutation? Per request, let me ...
10
votes
3answers
2k views

Why did humans become bipedal?

Somewhere in evolutionary history homo started walking upright and became bipedal. You hear these hypotheses that, by walking upright, they could see better across the grassy savannas to escape ...
2
votes
2answers
169 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 ...
1
vote
0answers
52 views

Do Parasaurolophus have hands with fingers to grab?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Parasaurolophus#mediaviewer/File:Parasaurolophus_cyrtocristatus.jpg I cannot tell if the hands have fingers strung together to form a hove, or fingers to grab. I have ...
2
votes
0answers
79 views

Why did animals evolve genders? [duplicate]

The majority of animals have two genders, and both are needed in reproduction. It seems like it would be more advantageous for creatures to be hermaphrodites, since they could mate with any member of ...
8
votes
0answers
100 views

How to define “Quasifixation” in continuous approximation of finite population?

Background Many models including the famous very first models derived by Sir Ronald Fisher in his early career, assume infinite population size. In an infinite population, an allele can rise in ...
1
vote
1answer
27 views

Relation between a compound's toxicity and it's concentration level

I know that ammonia is toxic for the body since it disturbs enzymes of mitochondria. I want to know that why the ammonotelic animals don't get affected by it? I mean that even if there is plenty of ...
7
votes
1answer
107 views

Gender and age-specific mutation rate in plants

Background General concept According to Cochran and Harpending (2013), mothers transmits on average a number $x$ of new mutations to their offspring. This number $x$ is independent of the age of the ...
6
votes
5answers
834 views

Relationship Between Evolution and the Increase of Entropy of Earth

I was confronted by this question: Biological evolution of life on Earth, from simple prokaryote-like cells to large, multicellar eukaryotic organisms, A) has occurred in accordance with the laws ...
3
votes
1answer
174 views

Which of the two mitochondorial membranes relate to bacteria according to the endosymbiotic theory?

I seached for endosymbiotic theory in Wiki and I found this about endosymbiotic theory: Symbiogenesis, or endosymbiotic theory, is an evolutionary theory which explains the origin of eukaryotic ...
1
vote
1answer
94 views

Which came first in hominid evolution: language or bipedalism? [closed]

I suspect both language-use and upright-posture have anatomical consequences. So does the fossil record show which came first? NOTE: To the folks who marked this question "homework": This is ...
0
votes
1answer
185 views

Why do humans have eyebrows? [closed]

Why do humans have eyebrows? It seems that it isn't necessary but only humans have them, correct? So what is the use of them for humans? I hear that they protect our eyes. However, isn't that what ...
4
votes
1answer
76 views

Statistics on energy consumption breakdown per biological functions across organisms?

Are there any statistics available on how much energy organisms use for each biological functions (i.e. something similar to the line of "Bacteria spend X% of energy on information processing, Y% for ...
2
votes
1answer
185 views

Gradualism vs. Punctuationalism

TLDR? Just read the bold bits! I started with Darwin's Origin of Species, and then read Dawkins's first three books The Selfish Gene, The Extended Phenotype, and The Blind watchmaker (I just started ...
8
votes
0answers
561 views

Evolutionary reasons why you cannot tickle yourself but masturbate

There are obviously good reasons that explain why you cannot tickle yourself (see e.g. here). This got me thinking why it is possible to masturbate... Wouldn't it make more sense to not being able to ...