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 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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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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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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215 views

Fecundity per woman in early humans

The average fecundity per woman varies a lot from country to country. I call average fecundity per woman the average number of born children per woman. In Homo sapiens, what was the average fecundity ...
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How does the population fitness changes after a change in mutation rate

The mean population fitness as given by mutation load theory depends only on the genome-wide mutation rate ($U$). My question is: how many generations is needed to reach a new mutation load ...
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Are there known examples where an evolved mechanism “echoes” one originally provided by the environment?

Short summary I am a researcher in origins of life, a field that deals with hypotheses about evolutionary processes that took place before LUCA (the last universal common ancestor), and with the ...
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249 views

Phylogenetics and the Tree of Life

As far as I understand, evolution is nowadays pretty much analyzed through phylogenetic trees, that is cladograms. These are constructed using the available records and taking some key structures and ...
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Why didn't the polar bear change its color from white to black during evolution to absorb heat?

Polar bears are white in color and white color is not a good absorbant of heat. Why then didn't they evolve a black color to absorb more heat?
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168 views

The skin color of bonobos

Why is that bonobos skin color on the areas not covered by hair are dark throughout life unlike the chimpanzee?
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177 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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How much difference in genome is enough to prevent interbreeding? [closed]

I am not a biologist. I am a software developer interested in genetic algorithms therefore i am probably talking to biologists who also have a knowledge of genetic algorithms. I need to "breed" ...
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110 views

How does the body “know” how to metabolize foreign substances

As a freshman biochemistry major, I find myself befuddled by our body's ability to perform complex chemical reactions to break down foreign substances. I can see how we would evolve explicit pathways ...
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144 views

Can someone help me analyze this article? [closed]

I need to read this article — "Beyond the rainbow" by Marie-Claire Koschowitz et al., for an exam. Following are some questions for which I could not figure the answer out after reading. 1) Why ...
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Evolutionary chronology - if any, which species have evolved in the last 100 years

I heared somewhere, I cannot remember where, that there has not been an evolution observed in our lifetime. In life science class, right at the start, we was doing the usual MRSGREN (how to tell if ...
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463 views

Are domesticated animals really “more intelligent,” or is that a myth/misunderstanding?

Often do I hear people speaking of how the domestic house cats are more friendly, less ferocious, less savage-like, and smarter and/or than their distinct but equivalent feline-species friends, like ...
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1answer
45 views

Coniferous trees in temperare rain forests

In temperate rainforest, the dominant plant form is often coniferous trees (source). However, coniferous trees are also the dominant plant form in a very different climate and form a different biome ...
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892 views

Deciduous trees in tropical rainforest

Some books says the dominant plant form in tropical rainforest biome is broad leaved evergreen trees. Other books say it is broad leaved evergreen trees and deciduous trees. What is the most accepted ...
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346 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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Is there any evolutionary advantage of selection of L-amino acid over D-amino acid?

After listening to a scientific talk, I had this question that why in the natural selection process, are the L-amino acids selected over the D- form. However, we still we produce D-amino acids; ...
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What is the evolutionary purpose of white spots in nails and how can they be characterised due to Leukonychia? [closed]

Suppose you haven't hit your nails so the white spots are due to Leukonychia. Are the discoloration i.e. the white spots due to lower porosity (less minerals absorbing) or some other factor? I ...
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78 views

Would humans eventually evolve to fight off fatal diseases if we didn't treat/vaccinate for them? [duplicate]

I am definitely pro vaccination, and the question is a bit morbid because people would die, but assuming that we didn't treat or vaccinate people for fatal diseases such as Ebola or the black death, ...
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183 views

What is Environmental Robustness? Is it different from plasticity?

Hansen (2006) in his review uses the concept of environmental robustness independently of the other concepts of robustness (at pages 139 and 140) without defining ...
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1answer
364 views

Speciation of humans? [duplicate]

Since we homo sapiens (and all other species) are continuously evolving, are humans undergoing speciation based on our environment? OR has there been any difference across people that could say ...
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666 views

Why do we have to exhale (or inhale) in order to speak?

Every time we speak, sing, or make any other kind of advanced noise with our throats, we exhale, or to put it that way, blow air through our throats. Why is this required? After all, speakers do not ...
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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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1answer
391 views

Is sexual selection evolutionarily advantageous?

Our biology teacher says that peacocks will soon become extinct because of bigger and bigger (and heavier and heavier) tails. Why natural selection did not eliminate sexual selection?
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General time reversible model of evolution and Felsenstein model

I would like to get suggestions for the books related to General time reversible model of evolution and Felsenstein model etc. Specifically the mathematical treatment of these topics and concepts ...
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Duration of selection and survival of the fittest

I feel there is a part of the theory of evolution I'm not understanding correctly or maybe I'm missing it, but would like cleared up. From what I understand, over time random mutations occur which in ...
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What are the common methods to estimate additive genetic variance?

Additive genetic variance can be estimated in a number of ways, and is a key concept in evolutionary biology and quantitative genetics. What are the typical methods (experimental designs) used to ...
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881 views

Viral Mutation Mechanism

I think I have a wrong concept about viral mutation process. First of all what is mutation actually? I mean, I know it's a sudden change in DNA, happening when subjected to mutagenic agents. But can ...
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1answer
78 views

What is different between the pigment of giraffes and the pigment of flowers?

I saw this video created by Derek Muller and he says there that it is very unusual to evolutionary develop the colour of the skin without the pigment. That sounds reasonable but if so, what nutrients ...
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291 views

Why do human ears have a lower boundary for the lowest energy perceivable signal than eyes?

I am currently hearing a lecture about human machine interaction. The lecturer is not a biologist (neither am I, we are both computer scientists), but he makes some statements about biology which I ...
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838 views

How can natural selection occur at species level whilst not occuring at the individual level?

The chapter by Douglas Futuyma in 'Evolution' (Losos et al 2013, Princeton) states that natural selection can occur at the species level. Futuyma states that if natural selection occurs at the species ...
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Like other animals, why humans don't have species & breeds?

Like other animals, why don't humans have species & breeds ? Even my pet dog is one type of breed, but we (humans) lack breeds & species? What is the main reason?
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Testing monophyly from per site log-likelihoods without optimising branch lengths

How can I obtain per site log-likelihoods for a topology against an alignment without optimising branch lengths? (which software can I use to do this) Per site log-likelihoods can be used for various ...
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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 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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179 views

How does rate of evolution/innovation scale with population size?

I understand that there will be many other factors that affect rate of evolution/innovation. However, other things being equal, how will the rate of evolution vary between two populations of different ...
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336 views

Do wolves bury food like dogs?

Many breeds of domestic dogs seem to like burying food, presumably in preparation for leaner times. Assuming that dogs evolved from animals similar to the modern wolves through a mix of natural and ...
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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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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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Is eating cooked food an evolved behavior or rather an intelligent one, passed down via culture?

I was just eating a rather rare steak when I started wondering whether eating foods cooked was something I would instinctively want to do if the practice hadn't been taught to me. So, is cooking food ...
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Why do we have five fingers?

Humans (and other humanoid mammals) have five fingers in each hand. Curious to know, why five? Wouldn't more fingers be more useful? Is there any evidence that it used to be different and natural ...
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Is genetic drift necessarily deleterious?

I read that genetic drift is random variation in the relative allele frequencies of a population. This question however seems to pin genetic drift down to increasing deleterious allele ...
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57 views

Comparative leg sizes

When I was a child, my father showed me the classic essay "On Being the Right Size", J. B. S. Haldane. It talks (among other things) about how large animals need stockier legs to support their ...
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Confusion regarding niches in evolution theory

This is the definition of a niche from Crash Course: An area of the environment that requires a special set of skills or traits to extract food and reproduce. Obviously, this version of the ...
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Why don't fish groom each other?

Fish are often plagued by external parasites, which are presumably difficult for them to remove. There are well known cases where large fish come to coral reefs and allow smaller fish to pick off ...
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Drake's Law. What is the genome-wide mutation rate and what are the estimates?

Drake's rule Drake's rule states that the genome-wide mutation rate is more or less constant across all species — from E.coli to the house sparrow. Data From what I think being Drake's original ...
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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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Why are the genomes of some trees so large?

For example, the current longest known genome belongs to a tree: http://motherboard.vice.com/read/the-largest-genome-ever-sequenced-belongs-to-a-tree I have heard that this could potentially be ...