Changes in the heritable attributes of populations of organisms over time. Major mechanisms include drift, natural selection, mutation, and gene flow (migration).

learn more… | top users | synonyms

12
votes
6answers
1k views

Human evolution: Where *exactly* did the first human come from, whose parents were not?

Layman here. So I have never really quite understood this facet of human evolution, (or any other for that matter), in that, I understand the evolutionary process, but I get lost on the 'border' ...
2
votes
1answer
55 views

Viral Mutation Mechanism

I think I have a wrong concept about viral mutation process. First of all what is mutation actually? I mean, I know it's a sudden change in DNA, happening when subjected to mutagenic agents. But can ...
2
votes
1answer
46 views

What can myelination tell you about the evolution of sensory receptors?

I am reading Avi Chaudhuri's Fundamentals of Sensory Perception and wondering if the information given about the somatosensory system could tell us anything about the way it evolved. It seems (at ...
1
vote
1answer
29 views

What is different between the pigment of giraffes and the pigment of flowers?

I saw this video created by Derek Muller and he says there that it is very unusual to evolutionary develop the colour of the skin without the pigment. That sounds reasonable but if so, what nutrients ...
5
votes
4answers
186 views

Has it been enough time for evolution through simple natural selection?

Let first state that I understand natural selection. I am not asking if evolution happened. I see evolution as a fact, but I do not assume the current theory of natural selection as fact. I wonder if ...
1
vote
2answers
66 views

How can natural selection occur at species level whilst not occuring at the individual level?

The chapter by Douglas Futuyma in 'Evolution' (Losos et al 2013, Princeton) states that natural selection can occur at the species level. Futuyma states that if natural selection occurs at the species ...
1
vote
1answer
80 views

Interpretation of graph from evolutionary biology

I am studying evolutionary biology, and been presented with this graph: I am having some difficulties understand its meaning. For a start, why is time measured as a fraction of the population size? ...
2
votes
1answer
159 views

Like other animals, why humans don't have species & breeds?

Like other animals, why don't humans have species & breeds ? Even my pet dog is one type of breed, but we (humans) lack breeds & species? What is the main reason?
4
votes
1answer
46 views

Is there an association between environmental and mutational robustness?

The robustness of a genotype is the ability of this genotype to resist (always produce the same phenotype) to various parameters such as mutations and environment. The ability of a genotype to resist ...
5
votes
2answers
70 views

Linkage disequilibrium with multiple alleles and loci

Linkage disequilibrium $\left(D\right)$ for two bi-allelic loci is defined as: $$D=X_{11}X_{22} - X_{12}X_{21}$$ where $X_{11},\ X_{12},\ X_{21},\ X_{22}$ are the frequencies of the haplotypes ...
5
votes
3answers
192 views

Why are there no tree-like plants that grow in lakes?

Looking at aerial photos of boreal forests, with dense woods clear-cut by quiet lakes, I wondered why exactly are the woods so clear-cut at the edge of water? Why won't trees develop adaptations that ...
1
vote
1answer
27 views

Testing monophyly from per site log-likelihoods without optimising branch lengths

How can I obtain per site log-likelihoods for a topology against an alignment without optimising branch lengths? (which software can I use to do this) Per site log-likelihoods can be used for various ...
4
votes
0answers
37 views

What are parental antagonism & parental conflict?

I've been reading the chapter by Haig et al in The Genetics and Biology of Sexual Conflict. I think this chapter has them quite unclearly defined. Could anyone describe these two phenomenon more ...
7
votes
2answers
692 views

Why do plants fruit?

This is a two-part question: What is the point of fruit if not to be eaten? It’s is my understanding that organisms will adapt to survive and thrive. I understand that being eaten can spread seeds, ...
6
votes
2answers
228 views

Why does sex last so long?

I wonder why (especially human) sex lasts longer than just a few seconds? My thought is that the shorter it takes a man to ejaculate, the lesser is the risk that he gets interrupted by a rival or a ...
6
votes
3answers
115 views

Are there any known mutual symbiotic relationships that has more than two agents?

We are all familiar with the examples of symbiotic relationships in nature consisting of two agents, like lichen or the co-evolvement between certain birds and flowering plants. Do we know of any ...
3
votes
1answer
74 views

How does rate of evolution/innovation scale with population size?

I understand that there will be many other factors that affect rate of evolution/innovation. However, other things being equal, how will the rate of evolution vary between two populations of different ...
3
votes
1answer
139 views

Do wolves bury food like dogs?

Many breeds of domestic dogs seem to like burying food, presumably in preparation for leaner times. Assuming that dogs evolved from animals similar to the modern wolves through a mix of natural and ...
9
votes
2answers
673 views

Which sex has higher variance of reproductive rate in modern societies - male or females?

Who has a more varied reproduction rate in modern western societies - men or women? The average rate is the same of course, but I wonder which sex have higher variance - higher variance means that ...
4
votes
1answer
29 views

Is genetic drift necessarily deleterious?

I read that genetic drift is random variation in the relative allele frequencies of a population. This question however seems to pin genetic drift down to increasing deleterious allele ...
4
votes
1answer
52 views

Comparative leg sizes

When I was a child, my father showed me the classic essay "On Being the Right Size", J. B. S. Haldane. It talks (among other things) about how large animals need stockier legs to support their ...
2
votes
1answer
42 views

Confusion regarding niches in evolution theory

This is the definition of a niche from Crash Course: An area of the environment that requires a special set of skills or traits to extract food and reproduce. Obviously, this version of the ...
5
votes
3answers
66 views

Why don't fish groom each other?

Fish are often plagued by external parasites, which are presumably difficult for them to remove. There are well known cases where large fish come to coral reefs and allow smaller fish to pick off ...
6
votes
0answers
49 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
49 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 ...
9
votes
1answer
116 views

What are the costs associated with carrying lots of genetic material

What are the costs (if any) associated with carrying lots of genetic material (Big genome size)? energy for copying? raw material for copying? space in the cell? Maintenance cost (matter and ...
4
votes
1answer
48 views

Drake's Law. What is the genome-wide mutation rate and what are the estimates?

Drake's rule Drake's rule states that the genome-wide mutation rate is more or less constant across all species — from E.coli to the house sparrow. Data From what I think being Drake's original ...
6
votes
1answer
176 views

Why did humans lose their fur?

The little amount of body hair humans have don't seem to be of much use for keeping warm. Our Simian cousins on the other hand sport thick furs. At which point during the species evolution and why ...
5
votes
1answer
78 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 ...
3
votes
1answer
38 views

Why are the genomes of some trees so large?

For example, the current longest known genome belongs to a tree: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-largest-genome-ever-sequenced-belongs-to-a-tree I have heard that this could potentially be ...
4
votes
1answer
593 views

How do I calculate the change in allele frequency in a haploid population under selection?

From this book For simplicity, let us consider a haploid organism and assume that the frequencies of alleles $A_1$ and $A_2$ are given by $x$ and $y=1-x$, respectively. We also assume that the ...
6
votes
1answer
99 views

Hill-Roberston effects and effective population size

From this article, first page, middle of the second column: Even if harmful alleles do not become fixed, they can still reduce the efficacy of selection on neighbouring loci through a process ...
4
votes
2answers
332 views

Why is the strength of genetic drift inversely proportional to the population size?

I saw a concept on the Internet that says "the strength of genetic drift is inversely proportional to the population size". I don't know why they are inversely proportional? Can somebody explain? ...
2
votes
1answer
39 views

Does sociality evolved before or after the ability of motility?

According to book Life Ascending: The Ten Great Inventions o Evolution. (Lane, N.;2010), Motility has indeed transformed life on earth in ways that are not immediately apparent, from the ...
36
votes
3answers
2k views

Why are there no wheeled animals?

In physics, "almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few unimportant holes." (See Jolly.) Therefore, on Physics SE, people are veering off into different directions: ...
3
votes
4answers
731 views

Which came first: The Chicken or the Egg? [closed]

Has there been any serious scientific inquiries into answering this age old question?
47
votes
4answers
6k views

Why 22 amino acids instead of 64?

This question got me thinking about amino acids and the ambiguity in the genetic code. With 4 nucleotides in RNA and 3 per codon, there are 64 codons. However, these 64 codons only code for 22 ...
5
votes
2answers
258 views

Why haven't land animals evolved beyond urination?

It occurred to me (while urinating) that this would seem to be selected against because water is a scarce resource. Why are we constantly losing water we don't need to through urination? What is ...
0
votes
1answer
46 views

What is the progressive evolutionary advantage that leads to flying?

As far as I understand, all life started as non-flying and flying came about by natural selection. What is the evolutionary advantageous "path" to flying? Or is there something else to explain this?
6
votes
4answers
518 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 ...
21
votes
5answers
2k views

Why are there species instead of a continuum of various animals?

As I understand it, various animal traits have to evolve gradually, but what happens to the species that are "neither here nor there"? To put it differently, if a species evolved from another, it did ...
5
votes
1answer
109 views

Are fish and reptilian scales homologous?

Wikipedia: Fish scales are dermally derived, specifically in the mesoderm. This fact distinguishes them from reptile scales paleontologically. So aren't reptilia scales also dermally derived?
1
vote
1answer
69 views

How prominent is the gene-centric view of evolution among professional researchers?

Richard Dawkins famously advocated a gene-centric (as opposed to organism-centric) viewpoint on natural selection, most notably in The Extended Phenotype. However, I have also heard "on the grapevine" ...
3
votes
2answers
2k 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.
3
votes
3answers
418 views

What is the difference between eugenics and evolution by natural selection?

So with the working definition of Eugenics: "the aim to improve the human gene pool". What are key features that distinguish Eugenics from evolution by natural selection? I mean, besides that natural ...
6
votes
4answers
519 views

Are there any scientifically based predictions or theories of future human evolution?

Reading this question of the stack exchange got me thinking. I believe human evolution is an ongoing process and will not stop. Are there any predictions/theories about the phenotypes and genotypes of ...
1
vote
1answer
28 views

Are there multicellular isogamous species?

Are there multicellular isogamous species? Seeking through the examples of wikipedia I would tend to think that there are no multicellular isogamous species.
5
votes
2answers
107 views

Simulating substitution rate of neutral mutations

I am trying to computationally simulate a population based on the Wright-Fisher model I would like to get to the classic result of the neutral theory of molecular evolution that the rate of neutral ...
9
votes
3answers
682 views

The evolutionary process in bird wings, especially with regard to winglets

In this answer on aviation.SE a comparison is made between the shapes of airplanes wings and the shapes of birds wings. It concludes with the following remark: After all, no bird has winglets. Not ...
2
votes
1answer
613 views

Why do humans bury their dead?

As far as we know Ape Men or the Neanderthal Man was the first to bury its dead. My question is why. I don't think they practiced religion or believed in spirits or faith or stuff like that. ...