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

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“selective pressure” or “selection pressure”?

Editing a manuscript of mine, a co-author changes "selection pressure" to "selective pressure". Are those two terms interchangeable? Or are there subtle differences that I'm not aware of? The ...
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110 views

Why do hummingbirds build nests with live ferns instead of dead materials?

Hummingbirds prefer to build their nests with spore-bearing ferns, and mosses. This is helpful for the reproduction of the ferns, which are then better able to spread their seeds. But how is this ...
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97 views

What's the use of RNA editing in kinetoplast?

The genes of the mitochondrion (kinetoplast) of some Kinetoplastida - e.g. Trypanosoma brucei, the parasite which causes African sleeping sickness - are "encoded" in a way that the pre mRNA requiries ...
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65 views

Evolutionary conservativeness

List the following proteins in the order of decreasing evolutionary conservativeness of their primary structure: Somatotropin. Catalytic subunit of a DNA – polymerase. Histone H1. ...
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189 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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598 views

Are there any 6 limbed reptile fossils?

Were any 6 armed "tetrapod" fossils ever found? I've seen some lobe finned fish with two sets of shoulders in an evolutionary bio book... I'm curious because I'd like 4 limbed and 2 winged dragons to ...
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329 views

Why did Fair Meiosis evolve?

How and why did Fair Meiosis evolve? I can hardly think that it provided a fitness advantage to the individual carrying the mutation. Why would it? Or did it evolve through lineage selection? Or was ...
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487 views

Is a “Fact” any theory for which there is overwhelming evidence in any field other than biology?

Evolution is often described as a fact, and a theory. Evolution is a heavily overloaded term, with one definition being the fact that, "changes in the frequency of alleles in populations of organisms ...
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127 views

Would non-human carnivores be able to survive on farmed foods?

Certain creatures that are considered carnivores are non-obligate carnivores and are technically omnivores (such as wolves/dogs). How different is the potential digestive ability of these species ...
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108 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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81 views

Why does the gc content deviate from 50% in prokaryotes

I have read quite some articles but I can't figure out the main reason for gc content deviation in prokaryotes. In eukaryotes I can understand it, because the genome isn't composed at random, like ...
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67 views

Development and function of spindle neurons

In his book How to Create a Mind author Ray Kurzweil makes some claims about spindle neurons that he provides no source for. Concretely he states that spindle cells: Are Involved in handling ...
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40 views

What is the distribution of the number of heterozygotes in finite populations?

Consider a bi-allelic locus with alleles A and a. We denote the frequency of the A allele by ...
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88 views

Evolution of protein and protein efficiency

Suppose we have a bacterial protein that performs a function and let's say we can measure the efficiency of the protein. Let's say we have two species, species A and B, both of which have this protein....
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79 views

why do marine organisms orient with their bellies facing downwards?

why do marine organisms orient with their bellies facing downwards (like most creatures) given that they have relatively fewer constraints on their orientations than land or air organisms?
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500 views

How did the endoplasmic reticulum come to be?

Organelles are sub-cellular compartments in cells. However prokaryotes don't use organelles to organise their intracellular space. Evolutionarily, there is evidence that mitochondria and ...
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62 views

Terminology for inefficacy of selection on recessive alleles

I am wondering is there some proper terminology which is used to say that deleterious recessive alleles might be able to hide, reducing the the efficacy of selection, in diploid organisms/chromosomes. ...
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44 views

Richard Goldschmidt's “systemic mutations”?

[TLDR] I dont understand the fault people had/have with Richard Goldscmidt's concept of systemic mutations [/TLDR] As a preface, I am a undergrad biology student, so sorry if this is a "Stupid ...
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323 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 ...
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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?
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88 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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229 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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304 views

What's the purpose of colorful mushrooms' caps?

What's the purpose for many mushrooms to have colorful caps? Is not it is in their interest to hide as well as possible? Or there are mushrooms that propagate by being eaten, like fruits? Why not all ...
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1k 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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173 views

Senescence, immortality and evolution?

Many have heard about the fabled "immortal" jellyfish, Turritopsis dohrnii, which doesn't die from aging (senescence) and can revert the aging process indefinitely. It is rather remarkable that only ...
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183 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: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KJ9Ad6s8g7I&...
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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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115 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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562 views

Why do genetic drift generates negative linkage disequilibrium?

The very first sentence of the abstract of this article is: "In finite populations subject to selection, genetic drift generates negative linkage disequilibrium, on average, even if selection acts ...
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414 views

Opposite results between Blomberg's K and phylogenetic signal in Phylocom (AOT)

I've been trying to test for significant phylogenetic conservatism in some plant traits. So far I used R-package picante (Blomberg's K) and AOT in Phylocom. So far these two methods yield completely ...
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199 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 material?...
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78 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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84 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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123 views

Why is the manchineel tree so poisonous?

The machineel tree is incredibly toxic to humans. What advantage could Hippomane mancinella have for being so poisonous? It's name even apparently translates to “little apple that makes horses mad”. ...
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Current scientific theories for evolution of Cucurbita

I'm attempting to find research on scientific theories surrounding the evolution of certain plants, and am unable to find any footing with respect to a certain genus. In this case, I am researching ...
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150 views

Why does Citric Acid occur in Citrus fruits?

Why is there so much citric acid in citrus fruits? And how did it evolve i.e. what did it come from? Is it a by-product of the ripening process? Why have citrus fruit evolved a particularly high ...
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191 views

Are there examples of animals that adapt to their environment very quickly? The phenomenon is called Phenoptic Plasticity [closed]

Evolution and speciation may take millions of years. This made me wonder if there is an animal that adapts itself relatively rapidly to its environment? I don't mean a simple adaptation like a change ...
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106 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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191 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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2k 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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70 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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213 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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63 views

How are new chromosomes replicated into the next generation via sexual reproduction?

If an individual has a new chromosome, which is very unlikely to happen, he will not have any luck in finding a sexual partner with this same trait. How will the offspring inherit this trait. And ...
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795 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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146 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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103 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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85 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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55 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 offspring,...
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41 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 ...