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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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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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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660 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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199 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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356 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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257 views

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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381 views

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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163 views

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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9k views

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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116 views

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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273 views

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 ...
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231 views

How Sex Evolved ? and when?

As I know evolution comes bit by bit mutation by mutation How sex evolved which requires a major change in at least two individuals one to become male and one to become female ? When that happened ...
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Why do most mammals have long snouts?

It seems like most mammals, e.g. dogs, have long snouts. My pet dog's snout would seem to me like an evolutionary disadvantage, since her canine teeth are way out at the end of her jaw, which acts as ...
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127 views

Same 185th million grandfather?

I was watching a lecture by Richard Dawkins earlier today and he mentioned that “Your 185th million grandfather was a fish.” I started wondering about the following question, Is it true that my 185th ...
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Probability of Extinction under Genetic Drift

Here is the Wright-Fisher model of genetic drift: $$\frac{(2N)!}{k!(2N-k)!}p^kq^{2N-k} \Leftrightarrow \binom{2N}{k}p^kq^{2N-k}$$ where $\binom{2N}{k}$ is the binomial coefficient. This formula ...
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209 views

Is local equilibrium a reasonable assumption for evolutionary processes?

Whenever I look at discussions of fitness landscapes (in particular, Kauffman's NK model) the questions tend to resemble: The population is at a local equilibrium, but another equilibrium of ...
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398 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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68 views

Visualisation of phylogeography

I am working on phylogeography on one model species and I am a beginner. You can imagine one species that came on locality more than 5 mya (million years ago). It was a good environment, so the ...
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107 views

If evolution is a gradual and continuous process, how can we say humans came about 200k years ago? What is so special about that point in time?

It just seems arbitrary to me to say "ok, now THIS is officially a human" when you could look at its parents and find no noticeable differences. At no point in the line of my ancestral history is ...
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135 views

A question about the intersection of evolution and thermodynamics

From this 2014 article in Quanta magazine by Natalie Wolchover there is a quote from a physicist with an intriguing idea about evolution: “You start with a random clump of atoms, and if you shine ...
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73 views

Evolution of Chromosome Numbers

Some species have different numbers of chromosomes, as we all know. Throughout evolution, how was a species able to survive with an extra chromosome? How was this organism able to breed successfully ...
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96 views

Disproportion in cranial nerve innervation?

The cranial nerve innervation is highly disproportionate, as far as humans are concerned. I am not sure of the advantage of being innervated by cranial nerve versus being innervated by a normal ...
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1answer
142 views

Alternatives to fittest-win and Moran processes as simple mathematical models of selection

When modeling selective sweeps as a micro-building block in models of macroevolution (not to be confused with misuses of this in creationist arguments), I use the fittest-win model of selection as a ...
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What does “Mutational Variance” mean?

Background The concept of mutational variance can be found in many articles including this one for example. The mutational variance of a trait number $i$ can be found in the M-matrix in position ...
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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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What percentage of the total genetic variance is explained by the $n$ most important loci?

Standard models in population genetics look up at the evolution of few loci which impact fitness. The variance in fitness is determined by the genetic variance and the environmental variance (and the ...
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552 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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How does Artificial Selection work?

As far as I know for evolution to work mutations are necessary. Mutations are the raw material on which natural selection works. But mutations are always completely random and human beings have no ...
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Why does so much variation exist within species?

My last phrasing of this question did not go down well, so I will try again. The genotype of species is not always the same. If you ask yourself why not all of these possible expressions except one ...
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523 views

Why did the urinary bladder evolve?

Sure it's convenient to decide when to urinate but not essential for survival or reproduction, as I understand. But just convenience is not a drive for evolution. Does the bladder serve any essential ...
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196 views

Why don't flies avoid the motorway?

Flies have a short lifespan, therefore evolution should technically happen over a shorter period of time (years). Flies die all the time from getting hit by cars on the motorway. Those flies that ...
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457 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 ...
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2k views

How did butterflies evolve to have eyes on their wings?

Some butterflies, such as the UK native Peacock butterfly (Google Image Search) have markings on their wings that look just like eyes, complete with a white fleck to imitate a convex, transparency ...
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118 views

What is the point of having evolved two nostrils?

How would having two nostrils be advantageous to your sense of smell or your ability to breath? I already hypothesized that either one of the nostrils could act as a back up for when another gets ...
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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 ...
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Evolution: How could all useful traits evolve simultaneously?

I have a basic question about evolution, for which I never found an answer. I understand how evolution works if we focus on one specific organ or trait. With each generation, some organism is more ...
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174 views

Are there other mechanisms for mutation besides imperfect DNA replication?

I was reading http://www.askamathematician.com/2012/05/q-is-quantum-randomness-ever-large-enough-to-be-noticed/ and saw: [...] the evolution of entire species can be changed by a single mistake ...
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139 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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132 views

Theoretically, is domestication of (virtually) any animal possible?

Looking at ones that manage well alongside us human animals, such as dogs and cats, we see that this is possible for evolved, distant animals to have heritable, preferable traits around people. ...
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Variations in Genome Sizes

Why is there wide variation in genome size amongst groups of protists, insects, amphibians and plants, but less variation within groups of mammals and reptiles?
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126 views

Is (Brain Mass)/(Total Mass) still considered a valid indicator of intelligence?

I was reading this(1) and it led me back to ask a very basic question (I'm not a neuroscientist). All the way back to undergrad anthropology and neuroscience courses I remember being taught the ...
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218 views

Experimental evidence for the selfish gene vs. the selfish individual

In the Selfish Gene, Dawkins makes the argument that a better view of evolution (i.e. more in accordance with experiment) is obtained if you view the basic unit of evolution to be the gene rather ...
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193 views

What evolutionary pressures pushed Galápagos tortoises to mature so slowly and live so long?

I read that they take up to 40 years (in the wild) to reach the age of reproduction and are thought to live over 100 years, with one in captivity reaching over 170 years. Can someone explain in ...
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217 views

Evolution of umbilical cord and reason of its elongation

To answer a question myself, recently I've read that Years and years ago, a long umbilical cord enabled a woman to grasp her baby after birth and run away from predators" Update: $Question:$ ...
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503 views

Smallest unit on which selection can act

Traditionally, the individual was considered to be the smallest unit on which Natural Selection (NS) acts. Today, we usually consider the gene as being the unit of NS. Of course, we should also ...
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214 views

Ecomorphs as evolutionary definitions

There have been demonstrations of ecomorphs in different taxa, where each morphology type is associated to a single environment. I know that it happens because special morphological characters ...
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1answer
697 views

How and why did mouth and nasal cavity evolve separate?

My initial objection is that nose filters air, mouth is for eating but is used for breathing also, plus they both are used to create sounds. What is the cause and reason in this case, why do we need ...
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1answer
166 views

What evolutionary mechanism caused felines to develop purring?

And why can some felines roar while others meow?
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63 views

What is the “Spandrels” debate about?

In a former question, as a side question, I asked a clarification about the "Spandrels" paper. Being not a biologist, it was the first time I encoutered it. Subsequently I tried to collect some ...
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Empirical evidence for species selection

Do we have any empirical evidence in favor of species (or lineage) selection? Do we know some cases that can only be explained (or seem to be only explained) by lineage selection? What are today the ...