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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Relationship Between Evolution and the Increase of Entropy of Earth

I was confronted by this question: Biological evolution of life on Earth, from simple prokaryote-like cells to large, multicellar eukaryotic organisms, A) has occurred in accordance with the laws ...
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825 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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555 views

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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403 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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344 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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59 views

Why are abiogenesis and evolution considered unrelated?

When a discussion about evolution comes across abiogenesis - the typical reaction is that they are unrelated (see the headline at http://www.factsnotfantasy.com/abiogenesis.php). It seems to be ...
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Why is dimethyltryptamine (DMT) being released during death?

I'm not very well informed about all the things related to biology and the current achievements of science in this field so if I'm wrong in anything I say, please let me know. Many times I've come ...
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378 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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213 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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893 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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83 views

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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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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Are there any known mutual symbiotic relationships that has more than two agents?

We are all familiar with the examples of symbiotic relationships in nature consisting of two agents, like lichen or the co-evolvement between certain birds and flowering plants. Do we know of any ...
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173 views

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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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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363 views

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 ...
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332 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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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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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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121 views

Are there any theories why such an imbalance in chirality of molluscs?

Most gastropods exhibit sinistral (right hand) winding of their shells. But very few species are anti sinistral. Have there been any theories as to why such a great difference?
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Queller's 1985 version of Hamilton's rule

Queller 1985 ("Kinship, reciprocity and synergism in the evolution of social behavior") provides a generalization of Hamilton's rule that allows for non-additivity. To accomplish that, Queller writes ...
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Hamilton's inclusive fitness approach

The underlying intuition of Hamilton's model of inclusive fitness is that we should study social behaviors from the point of view of actors -- rather than the recipients. To build his model, Hamilton ...
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123 views

Effects of selection on effective population size

Background The effective population size ($N_e$) is a central concept of evolutionary biology and is influenced by several parameters. For example: sex ratio bias affects $N_e$ $\left(N_e = ...
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89 views

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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122 views

Hill-Roberston effects and effective population size

From this article, first page, middle of the second column: Even if harmful alleles do not become fixed, they can still reduce the efficacy of selection on neighbouring loci through a process ...
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Reformulation of Hamilton's rule

Who (and in which article) was the first to reformulate Hamilton's rule using the letters $B$ and $C$?. See below comments on this reformulation. Hamilton, in his 1964's article gave a mathematical ...
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219 views

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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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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151 views

The origin of molecular machines

DNA holds genetic information and holds the key to the evolution of living organisms. Transcription and translation mechanisms enable living cells to process information encoded in DNA. To that end, ...
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81 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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99 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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81 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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How would constantly growing nails have aided early human?

Nails grow rapidly and constantly, such that without constant artificial trimming they would reach lengths difficult to manage. How did this benefit early humans, say 200kya? Were they used like ...
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112 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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151 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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80 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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226 views

What percentage of the (additive or not) 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 aren't we ambidextrous?

It seems so simple that if my brain can tell my right hand to do something, then it should be able to tell equally well to the left ? This seems like a pretty major evolutionary advantage. Why haven't ...
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120 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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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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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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166 views

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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Has it been enough time for evolution through simple natural selection?

Let first state that I understand natural selection. I am not asking if evolution happened. I see evolution as a fact, but I do not assume the current theory of natural selection as fact. I wonder if ...
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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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998 views

What has caused life to choose this unfathomably tiny subset of all possible proteins?

I wonder why life uses the particular proteins that it does, about 10^6 different proteins, I think? Evolution cannot explain it because the number of possible proteins is far far too large to ever ...
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781 views

Why is a slow worm not considered a snake?

Slow worms are considered lizards as opposed to snakes, both are reptiles. Now I get that there are traits that distinguish them (eye lids, ears ...). But snake species themselves vary already quite a ...
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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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249 views

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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What is the evidence that australopithecines were bipedal?

Before the discovery of Australopithecus afarensis in the 1970s, most anthropologists believed that an increase in brain capacity had preceded bipedal locomotion. However, this reconstruction of the ...
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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 ...