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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why is AUG the initiation codon?

Is there any reason why AUG is the initiation codon ? Why is there a need for an initiation codon ? Can't translation start with different codons?
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What do we know about LUCA?

All life on Earth (bacteria, archaea, eukarya) is thought to have evolved from a common ancestor, or last universal common ancestor (LUCA). What do we know about the characteristics of LUCA based upon ...
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246 views

The Origin of Mitochondria

For a long time I've just accepted, because it is just what everyone told me, that mitochondria became organelles in the cell when they were "engulfed" by another cell which acted like it's host. This ...
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374 views

Could humans and chimpanzees hybridize?

In some cases two species can hybridize. For example, Tigers and lions can hybridize to produce "Ligers". Would it also be possible for humans and chimpanzees (or any other species) to hybridize ? ...
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Did Darwin ever reach the conclusion that selection will remove variation?

According to simple models of selection the genetic variance in a population should be reduced by selection. (Fisher's fundamental theorem states that the rate at which a population can evolve is ...
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129 views

How can a three-base codon evolve from a two-base codon?

Inspired by this question among others. It's widely suggested that the current 3-base codon system of encoding protein sequences in DNA evolved from an earlier 2-base codon system. This makes sense ...
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Why does human facial and head hair continue to grow?

Many people can grow extremely long head hair and facial hair. Are there evolutionary theories as to why this is the case? It seems like having long hair could be a disadvantage, and extremely long ...
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Why do humans find baby animals cute?

Why do humans find baby animals like cats, dogs, ... so cute? As these are potential competitors or even natural enemies (like e.g. tigers, leopards, ..), the protection instinct (reasonable for the ...
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What does fitness really mean?

Fitness is certainly the most important concept in the theory of evolution. My question does not have to do with practical measures of fitness but with the theoretical definition of it. I am a bit ...
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Genetic Drift: Models, assumptions and empirical observations

There two main mathematical models to describe the process of genetic drift are Moran model and Wright-Fisher model. My questions concern the assumptions of these models, the existence of other ...
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60 views

What does the evidence suggest about how Neanderthals became extinct?

According to "Neanderthals: Facts About Our Extinct Human Relatives" (Szalay, 2013), Neanderthals dominated Europe during the last Ice Age, but may have died out before the arrival of Homo Sapiens ...
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91 views

Predators faking to be not hungry?

I believe that there are predator/prey combinations where the prey can easily spot that the predator is not hungry and will not try to flee from it. I’m thinking, for example, of gazelles who will ...
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945 views

Disadvantages of unihemispheric sleep

Is is well known fact that marine mammals and some birds can sleep with one brain hemisphere at a time, since it's essential for their survival. However, at least in my opinion, such mechanism would ...
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Is there a comprehensive database of fossils (with images) online?

Not sure if this is the best stackexchange to ask... I have not been able to find a decent database of fossils on the web, does one exist? Here are some of the links I have found through Wikipedia ...
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Why don't all ants have wings?

Since the new queens-to-be have wings, it means that ants either evolved from insects that can fly, or insects that can fly evolved from ants, or that we have a case of parallel evolution (which is ...
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Genetic Models for Natural Selection?

My question is simple: Given that evolution is described by random genetic mutations allowing certain members of a species to gain a reproductive advantage over others that coexist in the particular ...
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506 views

The evolution of dogs through domestication and artificial selection

I am currently reading Richard Dawkins's book 'The Greatest Show On Earth: The proof for evolution' and in the second chapter he talks very much about the evolution of dogs. He says centuries ago ...
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How should I put a large phylogeny into a scientific paper?

I've been trying to put a phylogeny tree into a scientific paper. This tree includes ~220 species, which is too too large for one page for journal articles (Letter or A4 size). But in my paper it is ...
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152 views

Why Did 6 Great Ape Species Survive But Only 1 Hominid Species?

My dad asked this question when I explained some circumstances surrounding Homo sapiens survival against all odds. We know there is only one hominid species left in the world, Homo sapiens. We also ...
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Why is the Kakapo more attracted to humans than its own kind?

The Kakapo can be seen in this video by BBC. It is said that the species is strongly sexually attracted to humans. Why could this be the case?
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Extinction of species

I barely know anything about biology and realize that this might be a stupid question, but I'll ask anyway! I know that species "transform" into other species through the process of evolution. Many ...
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Why do Mangoes have a single large seed, and not multiple small ones?

I was just thinking about this, wouldn't it make more sense for a mango to have multiple seeds, as it would allow more seed propagation?
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Which phylum appeared most recently

I'm aware that our earliest records of many major animal and plant phyla come from the Cambrian or Precambrian periods, and I'm also vaguely aware of some of the objections raised with general concept ...
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755 views

What is the difference between a circular and a cat's-eye pupil?

I've been to local zoo the other day and one lizard caught my attention: its pupils are circular, which, I thought, is not usual for reptiles. Turns out it is, but now I can't find any explanation on ...
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468 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 ...
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Did human hairs actually evolve from scales?

What is the evolution of hairs? Did they evolve from scales?
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What preceded ATP synthase?

ATP Synthase is ubiquitous throughout life on earth and so most probably evolved within the last universal common ancestor (LUCA) before that lineage diversified into the various kingdoms of life. ...
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Does becoming martyr have an evolutionary advantage?

This is related to How does "be altruist to those who are similar to you" evolve? Altruism that is Not reciprocal Not familiar has little explanation. One possible explanation is that ...
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Selection on linked loci in a diploid population

Let’s consider two linked loci $A$ and $B$ that are both bi-allelic. In consequence, we have four different possible haplotypes $A_1B_1$, $A_1B_2$, $A_2B_1$, $A_2B_2$, which frequencies are $X_1$, ...
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Help with the Price equation

The Price equation describes mathematically the evolution of a population of units from one generation to the next. $\bar{w}\Delta \bar{z}$ = $Cov (w_i,z_i) $+$ E(w_i\Delta z_i)$ I would like ...
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The Assumption of Weak Selection?

I was reading this question and I failed to fully understand the introductory part of it. The OP (@Artem Kaznatcheev) says: Most analytic models like to assume weak selection because it allows ...
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Difference in length of Okazaki fragments

The length of Okazaki fragments in the lagging strand is about 100-200 nucleotides in eukaryotes and about 1000-2000 nucleotides in prokaryotes. What (molecular mechanism, enzyme type ) ...
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161 views

What measures are commonly used for the complexity of an organism?

I'm aware of measures like number of distinct cell types being used as a measurement of complexity in biology, for example in the G-value paradox. But this doesn't really help for unicellular ...
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What are the costs associated with carrying lots of genetic material

What are the costs (if any) associated with carrying lots of genetic material? energy for copying? raw material for copying? space in the cell? Maintenance cost (matter and energy)? time to copy is ...
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Why would stablising selection ever happen?

If the aim of evolution is to allow an organism to better compete against rivals, why would stabilizing selection ever happen? If you're not selecting the most highly adapted competitors at either end ...
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How does “be altruist to those who are similar to you” evolve?

There are many cases when people commit altruism. One is relationship. I am willing to die for 2 of my children or 8 nieces, say an evolutionary psychologist. Another is reciprocal altruism, which is ...
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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 ...
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340 views

What exactly does adaptive mean?

This is a quote from Dey et al 2014: Hatching asynchrony is thought to be adaptive because... What exactly does adaptive mean here? Does it mean hatching asynchrony has fitness benefits? Or does ...
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Are there genes in humans from the common ancestor of all organisms?

How long ago can human genes be traced? Are there any genes that go back unchanged to the beginning of life on Earth? And if so, how many?
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Why can't humans drink sea water?

Why can't humans drink sea water? It would seem to be a huge evolutionary advantage for an animal to be able to drink sea water rather than have to rely on fresh water, and it's provably not ...
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Can any species be bred selectively/engineered to become as diverse looking as dogs?

I've done some research and it appears that dogs are the most diverse looking single species of mammals. The questions that interest me is - are dogs special in respect to genes/gene activation ...
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640 views

How exactly are game theoretical evolutionary models described during implementation for computer simulations?

When a biologist or a layman tries to reason the evolutionary explanation for something, they would simply use English with some math thrown in (for a random example, pick any explanation out of "The ...
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193 views

evolutionary reason behind sharing the same path for food and air?

What is the evolutionary reason behind sharing the same path for food and air? For example, we have a nose and lungs, yet they are linked by the pharynx, which is shared with the mouth and ...
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350 views

Why people like to see pornographic scenes, but do not feel the same about eating scenes?

This question may seem funny, but I think biology must have good answers. I think no more explanation is needed. I really thought about this and searched for an answer, but there is nothing yet. If ...
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Why are humans and almost every species on earth symmetrical?

I admit I'm not very learned on the subject of evolution, I just started researching it for myself about a week ago. One of the things that I don't understand is why humans and almost every other ...
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Why does sexual selection evolve beautiful features?

First question here. I have a very raw understanding of sexual selection: Say a group of females of a certain species "likes" some feature of a certain groups of males; by "like" I mean some ...
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Is it possible to increase lifespan through controlled evolution?

A few years back when I was reading The Selfish Gene by Richard Dawkins, there's this short passage where he theorizes about a way to achieve an increased lifespan through controlled evolution. The ...
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How do archaea relate to eukaryotes and bacteria?

I've read that they all share some genes, internal structure, and behaviour with each other, but with different degrees of overlap depending of what the function is. E.g., archaea have some eukaryotic ...
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Is there theory that connects longevity, time-scale of environmental disturbance, and adaptation?

I'm thinking here about environmental disturbance or like climate change-driven warming. It seems as if there are two macroevolutionary ways to deal with environmental change: 1) Have short ...
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Computational/mathematical models for predicting phenotype from genotype

Karr, Sanghvi, et al. (2012) propose a whole-cell computational model for predicting phenotype from genotype in Mycoplasma genitalium. Their model simulates myriad cell processes such as DNA ...