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 don't rats have a gallbladder, unlike other rodents?

It has long been known that rats do not have a gallbladder, though other species including humans, monkeys, cows, reptiles, dogs and mice, all have a gallbladder. In this paper from almost 100 years ...
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540 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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99 views

How to define “Quasifixation” in continuous approximation of finite population?

Background Many models including the famous very first models derived by Sir Ronald Fisher in his early career, assume infinite population size. In an infinite population, an allele can rise in ...
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Variance in Fst in the infinite island model

The most famous result in the study of structured populations come from Sewall Wright. He showed that in an island model, where each subpopulation is of size $N$ and the migration rate is $m$, then ...
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39 views

How much of the genetic differences between humans and chimpanzees are due to genetic drift?

Both natural selection and genetic drift play a part in changing our DNA over time. Are there trustworthy estimates how much of the differences over the whole genome between us and chimpanzees are due ...
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45 views

Is high metabolism linked to high evolutionary turnover?

I recently read The Dinosaur Heresies by Robert T. Bakker, a 1986 popular science book presenting arguments for an active lifestyle and high metabolic rate in dinosaurs. One of the arguments that ...
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146 views

What traits make mountain goats so well adapted to mountain living?

I've never really understood how mountain goats manage to survive so well in mountainous regions. I've seen them scale almost sheer cliff faces with apparent ease, and they can almost sprint ...
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73 views

Understanding F-statistics in population genetics

I am reading a classical Weir and Cockerham 1984 paper about Fst estimation. At the beginning (first page, right column), they define 3 statistics. $F$ is the correlation of genes within individuals ...
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25 views

How were (many) dinosaurs' brains so small?

Brain size (or its proxy, encephalization quotient) usually varies allometrically with mass -- larger creatures need larger brains to control their larger bodies, apparently. Dinosaurs are popularly ...
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90 views

Escaping resource limitations during tumor evolution

In their discussion of the importance of r- and K-selection on tumors, Aktipis et al. (2013; figure 3) provide the following illustration of a hypothetical cancer growth curve: In it, you can see ...
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36 views

How “old” is a specific snake venom?

This is a World Building question, but it's biology specific (I think). I'm looking for an approximate answer on how long, evolutionary, a specific venom has been roughly the same. Is it pretty much ...
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57 views

Evolution of Wheat

In the evolution of wheat, there are two instances of chromosomal doubling, when Emmer wheat Triticum turgidum was formed from Einkorn wheat, and when Triticum aestivum was formed from Emmer wheat. ...
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50 views

Why do naked mole rats live in colonies with a queen?

What was the evolutionary advantage in having queens? Is it because the ones that had queen like tendencies in the new environment had kids that cooperated better giving higher chance of survival of ...
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448 views

Mutation-Selection-Drift Equilibrium

mutation-selection-drift equilibrium is one of the most important concept of population genetics. I could easily find the calculations for mutation-secltion equilibrium and for mutation-drift ...
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113 views

At what rate do chromosomal rearrangements occur?

How often does chromosomal rearrangements occur? i.e. what is the rate of chromosomal rearrangements? I am interested about these kind of chromosomal rearrangements that are passed on to the ...
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30 views

Is diarrhoea advantageous to the microbe?

Diarrhoea is a common side effect of many feco-orally transmitted bacterial infections. How does diarrhoea help the pathogen? Should it not have a selective evolutionary advantage? Do all symptoms of ...
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43 views

Is $F_{ST}$ a probability and a correlation coefficient?

$F_{ST}$ is one of the most famous and most important statistics of all of evolutionary biology. Yet, many people misunderstand it or misuse the classical results from the literature on $F_{ST}$ ...
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49 views

How did dolpins acquire the dorsal fin?

I had been thinking bout atavism when I saw a picture of a dolphin. I had seen it before, but suddenly the dorsal fin startled me. How did this dorsal fin evolve, especially, is it some atavism from ...
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32 views

Does the bending of a tree's trunk in the wind stimulate and strengthen root growth?

Recently Southern California experienced extreme wind velocities and afterwards the news reported over 300 trees had fallen in San Diego County. I had either heard or read somewhere that the action of ...
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55 views

Do animals demonstrate target practice (i.e., playful accuracy behavior)?

Do animals demonstrate any sort of accuracy-motivated play? (please provide examples!) Consider most human sports and related hobbies. Most share the common goal of hitting a target or being ...
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51 views

Diffusion approximation to genetic drift

I am reading from the classical textbook Principles of Population Genetics, Hartl and Clark (pdf here). Introduction Let $f(p,x,t)$ denote the distribution of allele frequency $x$ at time $t$ ...
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35 views

Games with non-uniform interaction rates

Background: Many models in evolutionary game theory assume uniform interaction rates. For instance, consider the $2\times 2$ game: \begin{array}{l c c} & A & B \\ A & a & b \\ ...
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79 views

What form of reproduction did the first land animals use?

What form of reproduction did the first animals on land use*? Were they hermaphrodites, or did they have male and female sexes? [Is there a proper term for sexual separation in a species?] Were any ...
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76 views

How to understand relatedness in an infinite island model?

My understanding is that the relatedness coefficient in kin selection models measures positive assortment. That is, altruism is more likely to evolve if altruists tend to interact with other ...
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Understanding the meaning of $s$ and $t$ in a population genetics equation

Sewall Wright in this article (1937) at the end of page 313 gives the equation: $$\Delta q = (s+tq)q(1-q) \space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space\space(1)$$ This equation is an ...
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20 views

Evolutionary motivation behind number of neurons in DCMMP

I'm studying neuro-anatomy right now and I was surprised to learn that there are only three neurons along the Dorsal Column Medial Lemniscal Pathway (DMLP) which relays mechanical sensations from the ...
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56 views

$F_{ST}$ and the genetic variance in metapopulations

From this video (21'15''), the speaker gives the following formulae in order to calculate the between and among populations genetic variance from the $F_{ST}$: $$V_{Among Pop} = 2 F_{ST}V_G$$ ...
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64 views

Inbreeding Coefficient and Coefficient of Relationship

Wikipedia gives the following formula to calculate a "path of coefficient of relationship" between an ancestor $A$ and an offspring $O$: $$\rho_{AO} = 2^{-n} \left( \frac{1+f_A}{1+f_O} \right)^{1/2} ...
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Population size and genetic drift - What are the evidences?

Wright-Fisher model From the Wright-Fisher model of genetic drift, the random sampling of allele from one generation to the next is taken from a binomial distribution with parameters $2N$ and $p$, ...
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40 views

Why were dinosaur skeletons so light compared to mammal skeletons?

I was watching a presentation by Dr. Jessica Theodor [1] who discusses (at 38:10), among other things, the skeletal structure of dinosaurs vs. mammals. "Dinosaurs have way lighter skeletons, which ...
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25 views

Replicator equation for mixed strategies?

The the replicator equation is usually defined for pure strategies. More specifically, the replicator eqn for $n$ strategies is given by: \begin{equation} \dot x_{i} = x_{i} \left( \sum_{j=1}^{n} ...
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47 views

Variance in reproductive success and effective population size

Background The effective population size $Ne$ is the size of the Wright-Fisher population that experience the same amount of drift than the population under consideration. The higher the variance in ...
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28 views

Wolbachia - cytoplasmic incompatibility

I read that cytoplasmic incompatibility in Wolbachia occurs when wolbachia-infected male insects mate with wolbachia-free female insects and produce non-viable offspring. By contrast, ...
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38 views

Why does bacillus thuringiensis produce bt toxin?

Background : B.thuringiensis produces an inactive crystalline toxin during sporulation which when ingested by an insect, gets activated and causes pore formation in gut , subsequently leading to death ...
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32 views

Analytical Methods for Estimating Probability of Fixation

The probability of fixation $P$ of an allele is an very important measure and there exists several solutions to estimate this probability. Each method has its own assumptions and it is often hard to ...
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55 views

What is the probability of fixation for a mutant under fluctuating selection?

Here is an answer which explain how one can model the frequency of an allele that is under fluctuating selection (selection that varies through time). Not, thinking about fluctuating selection, there ...
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77 views

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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78 views

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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74 views

Ancestral states of sex determination system

Most (maybe all?) species that reproduce sexually have either genders (anisogamy) or mating types (isogamy). There exist today many different type of sexual determination system. There is a whole ...
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128 views

Does the Jungian notion of collective unconsciousness have any legitimacy in the light of modern neurobiology and epigenetics?

Carl Jung has long ago proposed a rather controversial notion of collective unconsciousness [1, 2, 3], a form of the unconscious (that part of the mind containing memories and impulses of which ...
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80 views

How likely is it that through dog breeding, tail-wagging has been disassociated with happiness?

I am not a biologist, so sorry to anybody for misinformation in this post. If I understand correctly, dogs evolved the ability to show emotions through various sounds and tail-wagging in order to ...
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57 views

Odds of Fusion of Chromosome #2

There is strong evidence that chromosome 2 in humans is a fusion of two chimp chromosomes (i.e. common ancestor of chimps and humans) as explained at wikipedia here The question is what are the odds ...
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36 views

Source of information on the evolution of aging/senescence

Do you know a good review (published peer-reviewed or an online course or whatever) that offers a good overview of all hypothesis explaining the various patterns linked with aging? I'd like this ...
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70 views

How did the roar evolve from snort?

When Lions roar, or Dogs show aggression, they do that snort-roar thing. They're producing sound while inhaling. How did that come to be when all (?) other forms of sound involve exhaling? Humans do ...
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23 views

Identity By Descent vs Identity By State

Background The concepts of Identity By Descent (IBD) vs Identity By State (IBS) are central in population genetics, yet I fail to fully wrap my head around the definitions. You can find examples ...
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75 views

What were the Neanderthal innovations?

At some point the neanderthal and modern human lineages diverged. I'm not sure what exactly their most common recent ancestor was (I see some sources suggesting homo heidelbergensis), but in any case ...
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51 views

Why do fruits have to ripen?

It seems like most fruits that we consume undergo some sort of ripening process either before or after they are picked from the vine, tree, etc. I understand that sugars are released during the ...
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32 views

Why were the earliest humans hunter gatherers instead of fruit eaters living on trees?

How is it that the earliest humans who evolved from primates (who live on trees and mostly eat fruit) became hunter-gatherers (which seems like a harder, more stressful and more dangerous way to find ...
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47 views

Why are there different species of bacteria?

The usual (high school or intro to bio) explanation for diversification of species comes from multicellular, usually sexually reproducing organisms, and seems to be closely tied to the biological ...
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41 views

Was the frequency of mutations more during primitive earth due to radioactivity?

Primitive earth was more radioactive (or was it really?) according to radiometric analysis of C14 which suddenly appeared at 4250 million years in the Hadeon eon. Is it possible that ancient high ...