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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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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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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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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Term for trait that is advantageous to a population only as long as it is rare

I remember reading about a concept—in evolutionary biology or natural selection, I think—whereby a particular trait is advantageous to the population or species but only so long as that trait is only ...
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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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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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Why do plants fruit?

This is a two-part question: What is the point of fruit if not to be eaten? It’s is my understanding that organisms will adapt to survive and thrive. I understand that being eaten can spread seeds, ...
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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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How does Darwinian Evolution work?

Let me explain... A friend and I read some articles, part of a Biology book, and watched a video on evolution. We then tried to explain what Evolution is to each other. My friend said that Natural ...
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Why are lions the only social cats?

We know that almost all cats are solitary. How did the Lions (Panthera leo) end up social animals? Do we have an explanatory evolutionary path describing how the Lions became social while the rest of ...
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How is genetic speciation defined?

What determines speciation at a molecular level? At what point does a scientist determine two lineages are different enough to be considered separate species? Does it have a margin of error?
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384 views

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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476 views

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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How does Natural Selection shape Genetic Variation?

Background Importance of the additive genetic variance As stated here, the fundamental theorem of Natural Selection (NS) by Fisher says: The rate of increase in the mean fitness of any organism ...
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606 views

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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659 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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Is there a name for the evolutionary loss of vestigial structures?

Consider a biological structure which no longer benefits an organism, such as the eyes of an organism whose population now lives in total darkness. I can think of three reasons why such a structure ...
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603 views

Why are eggs “egg” shaped?

Is there a reason as to why chickens lay "egg" shaped eggs, as opposed to spherically shaped eggs (or a random shape)? <--- Main Question For extra points (actually just to add more words in ...
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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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249 views

Why does botulinum toxin seem to be more dangerous to humans than to other mammals?

Various mammals seem to get away with eating parts of carcasses that we would prefer to not even touch, and that we assume will make us sick. Because of that, I assume botulinum toxin is more ...
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What evolutionary adaptations cause trees to grow tall?

I think there are some obvious costs for trees to grow tall. Carbon and other nutrients costs, maintenance cost, energy cost (for growing, to bring water (and nutrients) up to the higher leaves, ...
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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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378 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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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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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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What are the atmospheric requirements for large dinosaurs?

What are the atmospheric requirements for large dinosaurs? and are the atmospheric constituents for supporting large dinosaurs any different from the atmosphere today?
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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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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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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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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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107 views

Why do fetuses have membranes between fingers and toes?

Are the membranes present between the fetal fingers and toes a remainder of the phylogenetic evolution, or just a way organs do grow most easily?
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Gender and age-specific mutation rate in plants

Background General concept According to Cochran and Harpending (2013), mothers transmits on average a number $x$ of new mutations to their offspring. This number $x$ is independent of the age of the ...
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114 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 ...
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925 views

Fisher's Geometric Model for Dummies

Fisher's geometric model is still today one of the most important and fundamental model in evolutionary biology but it seems to me that most student in evolutionary biology don't really understand it ...
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148 views

Why are recombination rates increasing in mammals?

I have recently become fascinated with an awesome topic in biology and evolution that I feel is rarely covered in biology courses. That is, rates of meiotic recombination, or the the amount that an ...
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Why does the proportion of transposable elements vary so much across species?

Intuitively, transposable elements (TEs) are harmful as they may cause genome instability. However, some people argue that TEs are also sources of variations, especially regulatory sequences[1]. If ...
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Hamilton's derivation of direct fitness from his 1970 paper

In his 1970 paper "Selfish and Spiteful Behaviour in an Evolutionary Model", Hamilton uses Price's equation to derive his well-known rule $rb -c >0$. My question is about one of the steps in his ...
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203 views

What is most ancestral: isogamy or anisogamy?

Sexual reproduction can be feasible with anisogamy (gametes of different sizes i.e. genders) or isogamy (gametes of same size i.e. mating types) or with undifferentiated gametes (i.e. true random ...
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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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510 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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How does chromosome fusion get fixed in the population?

It's well known that one of human chromosomes is the result of fusion between two chromosomes in a primate ancestor. If we put anthropocentrism aside, it becomes clear that fusion events happened a ...
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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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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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137 views

What are parental antagonism & parental conflict?

I've been reading the chapter by Haig et al in The Genetics and Biology of Sexual Conflict. I think this chapter has them quite unclearly defined. Could anyone describe these two phenomenon more ...
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Are there any multicellular forms of life which exist without consuming other forms of life in some manner?

The title is the question. If additional specificity is needed I will add clarification here. Are there any multicellular forms of life which exist without requiring the consumption (destruction) of ...
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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 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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How did zootoxins evolve?

I've always wondered how toxins in certain organisms have evolved. Particularly, organisms that produce toxins as a deterrent to predators as opposed to organisms that use it to paralyze their prey. ...
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What is the viability of Intelligent Design as a supplement to chemical abiogenesis and Darwinian Evolution?

First of all I am not endorsing Intelligent Design (Wikipedia link); I'm asking this because I (someone who does not have a background in biology, organic chemistry, or philosophy) got into a ...