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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In which order did the cells of the immune system evolve?

Thinking about how complex the interactions between different types of immune system cells (T-helpers, T-Killers, Phagocytes, B-Cells etc.) are, it's fascinating how they all combine to get the ...
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3answers
178 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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873 views

Do babies resemble their father?

An often heard theory is that newborns and babies resemble the father more than the mother, a theory apparently ignited by a Nature paper by Christenfeld and Hill (1995). Figure 1 shows one of the ...
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242 views

Beginning of the urogenital system

Are any invertebrate nephridia (proto/meta) homologous with vertebrate kidneys in the sense that embryologically they also begin together with the genital system? When did the embryologic association ...
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971 views

Is there an evolutionary advantage to crying when sad?

It seems as though the act of crying when sad does nothing to relieve that sadness. Is there an advantage to crying from an evolutionary perspective, or is it the end result of a different process? ...
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299 views

Can we make a rough estimate of the number of generations since the origin of life?

According to what we've learnt : we can approximate the number of generations since the first human pretty much like us (depending what / who we talk about). we have an idea of the series of life ...
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261 views

When did CRISPR/Cas9 evolve and what is the likelihood that a superior system for live cell genome editing has already evolved on earth since then?

I've read that CRISPR/Cas9 is currently being implemented and tested for its ability to edit genomes in live cells, and that it is supplanting other genome editing tools in labs, such as TALENs and ...
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4k views

What is the evolutionary reason behind the fragility of teeth?

Almost all organs in the human body have a rather large threshold within which the organ or tissue is capable of repairing itself using materials supplied by the body, whether it's made from organic ...
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899 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 ...
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8k views

Did animals evolve from plants?

Did animals evolve from plants? Did animals' ancestors have chloroplasts in their cells?
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11k views

Why do we assume that the first humans were dark-skinned?

According to the article Dark skin and blue eyes: How Europeans once looked: It is widely accepted that Man's oldest common forefather was dark skinned, and that people became more pale as they ...
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2k views

Why does the butterfly have a cocoon stage in its life cycle?

Why does the butterfly have a cocoon stage in its life cycle? It could have simply grown up within the egg/cocoon, and emerged as a butterfly. Instead it is first an egg, then a worm, then a ...
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6k views

Why are the Galápagos islands so special?

Why did Darwin formulate his theory of evolution just after his visit to the Galápagos islands? Why were they so special from an evolutionary point of view?
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735 views

Are fishes evolving?

As far as I know, Fishing has been one of the important occupation since early ages, and infinite number of fishes have already been captured. As the time passes, they must've developed some sort of ...
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195 views

Is there an “evolutionary species similarity calculator”?

Is there a website where I can input pairs of species and get an "evolutionary similarity score"? E.g. (numbers are completely made up) Input: Chimp and Human, Output: 97% Input: Cat and Human, ...
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3k views

Why are some berries poisonous?

In my understanding, the evolutional function of berries is to be eaten and pood out somewhere else, so that the seeds of the plant spread. Is this so? Then why are some berries poisonous?
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513 views

What is the modern state of the theory of evolution?

When I studied biology at my medical school we used to learn things about a century old: the famous Darwin's voyage on "Beagle" to the Galapagos Islands, the classical triad of his Theory of ...
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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 ...
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236 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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674 views

How does the genetic code evolve?

After looking at this question, some other questions poped in my mind. The DNA code is redundant, there are 20 amino acids for 64 possible nucleotide combinations. Therefore some amino acid are coded ...
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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 ...
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310 views

Why is venom more common in fish and snakes than other vertebrates?

Reading this question, I wondered why is it that we associate vertebrate venoms so often with snakes and fish, and more rarely with lizards, amphibians, mammals, and birds (apparently never, in ...
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201 views

Formation of Life

Originally, life evolved from non-living matter. Why is life only generated from other life nowadays, and why doesn't it evolve from inanimate matter, like it did originally billions of years ago, ...
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Does pheomelanin have a useful biological function?

Melanin is a natural pigment that is categorized into two main forms, eumelanin and pheomelanin. It's well documented in the science literature that increased eumelanin levels reduces the risk of ...
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421 views

Is there any evidence that a virus can modify human evolution

I was just reading Evolution of lactose tolerance, and in it one line says "But there was a time in human history when our diet and environment conspired to create conditions that mimicked those of a ...
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181 views

What is the Edward O. Wilson fuss about?

I have just read this article on E. O. Wilson and I don't understand what the difference is between what he is arguing and "standard" natural selection. I read "the extended phenotype" some years ago ...
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228 views

What advantage would the initial 'donor' in horizontal gene transfer by conjugation have received?

I am struggling to think why horizontal gene transfer between bacteria would have persisted during the course of evolution as surely it puts the 'donor' at a disadvantage? For example, consider a ...
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692 views

Is there are evolutionary explanation for why humans and primates are ticklish? How might it have evolved?

Tickling is a rather interesting phenomenon: When humans or apes are touched in certain areas like the armpits or sides, we respond with laughter AND frantic attempts to stop the assault. Obviously ...
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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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5k views

What is the closest species to humans in animal kingdom?

I presumed chimpanzees were the closest relatives of us. However, after watching this TED Talk, it seems bonobos are closer to us both in skeleton and behavioral similarity than chimpanzees. I once ...
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270 views

Could cancer be in itself a evolutionary process?

Could cancer be in itself a evolutionary process? Maybe in some way could it be a process of variation? Or would this idea be completely without support, if so, why? I don't mean that each case ...
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878 views

What is the evolutionary explanation for bat's echolocation [closed]

The bat's ability for echolocation is amazing (so are other the abilities of other animals). I was wondering how all of it came to be.
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3k 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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857 views

Why are there nail growth differences between humans and other mammals?

When a cat is growing, his nails are growing with him to some extent. A grown cat has a fixed nail length that is not extending. By contrast, human finger nails just keep on growing, so we have to ...
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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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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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175 views

Why is selfishness the 'obvious' strategy?

Thinking of behaviours an organism can adapt, at the very base an action can always be either selfish or altruistic (cooperative). Usually, selfish behaviour is assumed to be the preferred choice and ...
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920 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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197 views

What do we know about the Last Universal Common Ancestor (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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2k views

Why do some plant species have lobed leaves, while similar species in the same habitat don't?

Some plants have lobed leaves, like the English oak (Quercus robur), while other plants growing the same deciduous woodland habitats, and very often growing alongside oaks, such as the European beech ...
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103 views

Evolution of the Redundancy of the Genetic Code

In short Looking at the genetic code, it appears that most redundancy is on the third letter rather than on the first or the second letter of the codon. Why has it evolved this way? Longer version ...
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459 views

Structure of fitness landscapes in the NK model

The NK model of rugged fitness landscapes consists of $N$ sites where fitness contribution of each site depends on its state $\{0,1\}$ and is epistatically affected by $K$ other sites. When defining ...
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492 views

Is there any recent evidence for the aquatic ape theory of human evolution?

The aquatic ape theory suggests that many features that distinguish humans from their nearest evolutionary relatives emerged because the ancestors of humans underwent a period when they were adapting ...
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183 views

Are there any structures in mammals that are used only by males?

There are examples of structures which only serve a purpose in females, but it seems like the opposite could also be true. Are there any structures which exist in both mammalian sexes and only serve a ...
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992 views

How does population stability evolve?

The number of individuals constituting a population is called population size. Over time population size does not remain constant, it fluctuates to different extent over generations because of ...
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236 views

Are there specific features of birds that cats/small predators are attracted to?

I've recently heard a podcast, in which a professor describes one of the theories as to why we like abstract art. In his talk, he mentions an experiment with seagull chicks, in which the seagull ...
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725 views

How and when did a dedicated immune system evolve?

I have recently been doing a lot of research into the interplay between the innate and adaptive immune systems in humans, and mammalian laboratory models. This has led to my reading some interesting ...
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1answer
132 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 ...
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196 views

Expected time for a neutral allele to reach a frequency of $p_1$ when starting at frequency $p_0$

Kimura and Ohta (1968) showed that the expected time for a neutral allele to reach fixation (given that it will reach fixation) is $$\bar t(p_0)=-4N\left(\frac{1-p_0}{p_0}\right)\ln(1-p_0),$$ where ...
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539 views

When does weak selection produce qualitatively different results from strong selection?

In evolutionary game theory, it is typical to model organisms as having a base fitness that is modified slightly by the game interaction. The ratio of the game effect versus the base fitness ...