Changes in the heritable attributes of populations of organisms over time. The mechanisms of evolution are mutation, migration, drift, and selection.

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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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3answers
142 views

Intuitive explanation for Kin- and Group- selection

It is known from theoretician in the field of kin selection that kin selection (inclusive fitness theory) and group selection are actually two sides of the same coin. In other words, these two ...
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760 views

Why does sexual selection evolve beautiful features?

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 behaviour that makes this ...
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247 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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Why is chlorophyll green? Isn't there a more energetically favorable color? [duplicate]

Chlorophyll being green means it absorbs light in the red and blue area of the spectrum. Isn't this the high and low energy light? Wouldn't plants get more energy if they absorbed light in the green ...
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547 views

Genetic Diversity and Adaptation

I am somewhat new to evolutionary biology, having studied it on my free time as a computer science student. There is one particular thing that has always bothered me for which I have not seen a good ...
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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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112 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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550 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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522 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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188 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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1k 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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352 views

Why do women live longer than men?

According to Wikipedia and many other sources, women live substancially longer than men (over 5 years in the U.S.). Men can reproduce for much longer than women. So longer living men would have the ...
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267 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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1answer
821 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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139 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 energy)...
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677 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 ...
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623 views

Evolutionary reasons why you cannot tickle yourself but masturbate

There are obviously good reasons that explain why you cannot tickle yourself (see e.g. here). This got me thinking why it is possible to masturbate... Wouldn't it make more sense to not being able to ...
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966 views

Why would lethal genes evolve?

I've been reading through 'The Selfish Gene' by Dawkins. At a few places in the book he states that incest is damaging because it would give a very high chance of lethal recessive genes becoming ...
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845 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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517 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 ...
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395 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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580 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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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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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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268 views

Is there a dominant gene for right-handedness?

Has there been any definitive research about handedness being genetic? Also, why is right-handedness clearly dominant in humans? I'm interested in evolutionary theories, as well as any molecular ...
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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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571 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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Why do rabbits often have white hindquarters?

There are several species of herbivores that have a very visible white hindquarters: several kinds of deer, rabbits, antelopes, etc. Does the white fur serve a functional purpose, or is it purely ...
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412 views

Why do squirrels have twitchy bushy tails?

Whenever I see a squirrel in the woods, it is always the big bushy tail flipping around that gets my attention first. A pray animal with a big bushy flag calling attention to it's self seems to be ...
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6k views

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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574 views

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

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 is it beneficial for trees to grow that tall?

Why is it beneficial for trees to grow that tall? This sounds like a kid's question Mom, Dad... why are trees so tall? Costs and Benefits There are some obvious ...
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386 views

Evolution: One big population vs. many small populations

Let's say I want to evolve a bacterium that is resistant to an antibiotic. I want to do this by growing initially clonal populations of bacteria in presence of this antibiotic for a long time. I have ...
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188 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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165 views

Model for fluctuating selection

Is there any mathematical model to predict the behaviour and long-term consequence of counter-acting selection at different time scale? For example, let's consider the bi-allelic gene A, with alleles ...
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Can we say the 'goal' of Mullerian mimicry is a 'decrease in the number of sacrificed indivials'?

Can we say that Mullerian mimicry allows two species to decrease their number of sacrifice individuals because: Originally, one species needs to sacrifice some individuals to allow predators to ...
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257 views

Why do we find some things disgusting and others delicious?

For example, why do I love paprika while my girlfriend hates it? Why do I find broccoli disgusting and she adores it? As humans, there are things we'd all agree on being awful, like rotten meat, for ...
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216 views

How was the resemblance between apes and humans explained in pre-Darwinian biology?

Humans and apes have somewhat obvious similarities, these must have been apparent to natural philosophers before the possibility of a common ancestry was first proposed in the mid-1800's. These ...
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504 views

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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264 views

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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702 views

Do butterflies pass over migration patterns to their offspring?

So, earlier, I read online (http://io9.com/butterflies-remember-a-mountain-that-hasnt-existed-for-509321799) that Monarch butterflies veer east during their southward migration to avoid a mountain ...
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127 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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181 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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102 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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101 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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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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97 views

Basic Modelling in Quantitative Genetics

I am pretty bad in thinking quantitative genetics models. I am trying to get some basic understanding of modelling the evolution of a quantitative trait. I am therefore asking for help to analyze a ...
8
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1answer
165 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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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 ...