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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Homology ratio comparison between different species

I found the following homology ratio: protein coding genes of the organism with an homolog in mouse / all protein coding genes in the organism I have done this for all protein coding genes between ...
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1answer
68 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 ...
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1answer
56 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?
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1answer
97 views

Examples of Vestigial Genes

I consider the existence of a broken GULO gene in humans to be the clearest evidence for human evolution - just what else is it doing there otherwise? Are there any other examples of vestigial genes ...
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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 ...
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1answer
28 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 ...
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1answer
118 views

What is the relationship between radiation and evolution?

There is always a certain amount of background radiation present, for example due to ionizing radiation from the sun and other stars. Also certain materials like granite may emit relatively large ...
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2answers
58 views

How can (or did) Deinococcus radiodurans continue to evolve after developing resistance to mutation?

Deinococcus radiodurans has a remarkable ability to resist damage to its DNA due to radiation, dehydration or (to my knowledge) any other source. It keeps multiple copies of its genome and has a ...
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1answer
60 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 ...
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1answer
57 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 ...
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1answer
90 views

Genotype to phenotype map and the G-matrix

Suppose I have a genotype-phenotype map defined by the matrix $\mathbf{Z}$:         The scalars $G,P$ represent the number of genotypes and traits, respectively. ...
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1answer
48 views

Why is an increase in the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere favorable for life?

I have followed the David Attenborough series on 'First life' and heard, that an increase in the amount of oxygen in the atmosphere, as it took place just before the Cambrium, is generally favorable ...
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2answers
152 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 ...
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2answers
191 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 ...
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2answers
192 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 ...
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1answer
42 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 ...
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1answer
63 views

How does the value of K determine number of local optima in NK model?

BACKGROUND The NK model of fitness landscape considers N states which can interact with K other states. For example N is the total number of genes in a haploid genome and K is the number of other ...
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1answer
80 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 ...
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1answer
54 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 ...
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1answer
60 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 ...
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64 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 ...
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1answer
181 views

Why have whales and dolphins not evolved to have gills?

It seems at first glance that it would be an evolutionary disadvantage for a sea creature to have to come up to the surface on a regular basis in order to breathe, so why are there animals (e.g. ...
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3answers
121 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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3answers
150 views

Is there a fundamental reason that plants cannot fix their own nitrogen?

Plants must have nitrogen to grow. According to the answer to this question, there are no plants can fix their own nitrogen (without the help of bacteria). Plants get their nitrogen in the form of ...
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1answer
36 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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1answer
453 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?
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1answer
49 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 ...
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18 views

Why didn't animals evolve wheels for locomotion on land? [duplicate]

It seems that our technology heavily favors wheels for the locomotion of machines over land, but evolution came up with legs instead. The following assumptions might be wrong, I'm merely speculating, ...
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1answer
70 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 ...
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2answers
103 views

Why is iodine used for metabolic hormones?

Iodine and related biological iodine-carrying hormones are phylogenetically very old, at least according to Wikipedia. Humans use iodine as a metabolic indicator, as do axolotls and apparently most ...
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1answer
224 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 ...
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0answers
33 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, ...
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1answer
120 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?
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3answers
153 views

Why are the fertility rates of large predators kept low?

Predators at the top of a food chain, like lions, seem to have a relatively low fertility rate, which fits well to the ecosystem and avoids overpredation. But what is the mechanism that keeps the ...
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111 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 ...
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38 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 ...
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0answers
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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1answer
78 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?
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5answers
599 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
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1answer
122 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 ...
3
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0answers
71 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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1answer
23 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 ...
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1answer
108 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 ...
2
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1answer
83 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 ...
5
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0answers
54 views

What were the first neural systems like?

I'm curious about the origin of the neural network. I'm thinking perhaps once life evolved beyond the single cell organism, it needed a simple neural network to coordinate those cells, and cell ...
2
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1answer
486 views

Cell evolution: immortality vs reproduction

Many sci fi movies produce interesting ideas and technologies that we seem to be able to realize in real life at some point. "Lucy" was not one of those movies. But Morgan Freeman's speech in the ...
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1answer
61 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 ...
2
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2answers
100 views

Why asexual reproduction?

When I took a course on genetics and evolution, I learned that recombination and sexual reproduction is advantageous compared to asexual reproduction. Sexual reproduction allows more combinations of ...
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2answers
107 views

What does to “evolve” exactly mean? [closed]

In this article, the author says: Evolution isn’t “leading up” to anything, it just drunkenly limps along using the same set of tricks in slightly different orders. On other occasions, however, ...
4
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1answer
187 views

A colony of humans are sent to an alien world, at what point would the descendants evolve to be genetically incompatible with Earth humans? [closed]

I recently heard about the evolution of the London Underground mosquitoes, and how they have changed genetically enough that they almost can no longer reproduce with above ground mosquitos. Since this ...