40
votes
5answers
4k views

Why do some bad traits evolve, and good ones don't?

If a trait would be advantageous to an organism then why hasn't it evolved yet? Conversely, if a trait is not advantageous or mildly disadvantageous, why does it exist? In other words why does ...
38
votes
7answers
6k views

Why does evolution not make our life longer?

Why does evolution not make life longer for humans or any other species? Wouldn't evolution favour a long life?
32
votes
3answers
3k views

How could humans have interbred with Neanderthals if we're a different species?

To be clear, I'm not doubting that homo sapiens and homo neanderthalensis did interbreed: of that much I'm convinced. Within the past few years I've seen an upcropping of pop-sci articles discussing ...
30
votes
6answers
4k views

Why isn't a virus “alive”?

The recent news about a new supermassive virus being discovered got me thinking about how we define viruses as non-living organisms whilst they are bigger than bacteria, and much more complex than we ...
14
votes
4answers
2k views

Book recommendation on population/evolutionary genetics?

I have recently been involved in collaborations that require me to model the population genetics of eukaryotic populations. I fear I may either be "re-inventing the wheel" or making conceptual ...
7
votes
2answers
279 views

Why is a heritability coefficient not an index of “how genetic” something is?

On his blog, Eric Turkheimer writes: [T]aken as a number, a unit of analysis, heritability coefficients are funny things to aggregate on such a massive level. What exactly are we supposed to ...
22
votes
5answers
11k views

Do humans have enough biological differences to be grouped into races or subspecies?

After my online research on the subject, I learnt that, biologically speaking, many scientists believe that there is no such thing as a race. Homo sapiens as a species is only 200,000 years old, which ...
20
votes
6answers
1k views

How is evolution possible in contemporary humans?

I would like to know if evolution is continuing to happen in modern humans, assuming things like existence of the nuclear family structure, fidelity to one partner, etc. It seems to me the answer ...
10
votes
2answers
404 views

Transitivity of Species Definitions

There are many definitions of "species" which usually take the form Two individuals are of the same species if ... An implied (rarely made explicit) property of any sensible species definition ...
4
votes
2answers
607 views

Why is the strength of genetic drift inversely proportional to the population size?

I saw a concept on the Internet that says "the strength of genetic drift is inversely proportional to the population size". I don't know why they are inversely proportional? Can somebody explain? ...
19
votes
5answers
2k views

How can homosexuality evolve despite natural selection?

I would imagine that the answer to this question would be population control, especially since even if one sibling is homosexual this does not necessarily mean that the other siblings will be too.
70
votes
6answers
7k views

Why do plants have green leaves and not red?

I know plants are green due to chlorophyll. Surely it would be more beneficial for plants to be red than green as by being green they reflect green light and do not absorb it even though green light ...
33
votes
6answers
1k views

Why do we age? or Do we have a theory of senescence?

There seem to be a number of ideas about why we age. Hypotheses include the gradual accumulation of cell metabolic products affecting organism function and the reduction of telomere length during cell ...
13
votes
5answers
3k views

Why are some genes dominant over others? What is the mechanism behind it?

If I have a brown eye gene which encodes the protein that is responsible for the brown color and have a blue eye gene as well, what is the reason that my eye color is brown? How does one gene maintain ...
3
votes
1answer
250 views

Do genes play a role in the athleticism and shape of a person?

I am an Indian with a small thin stature with some deposition of fat around my belly.I was wondering if genes play a role in fat deposition in the body for Indian, Chinese, European or African people. ...
34
votes
5answers
10k views

Why don't mammals have more than 4 limbs?

Arthropods have 6 or more limbs and arthropods with 6 limbs appear to move faster than arthropods with 8 limbs so I wonder whether this might have something to do with fast and efficient locomotion. ...
18
votes
6answers
2k views

Human evolution: Where *exactly* did the first human come from, whose parents were not?

Layman here. So I have never really quite understood this facet of human evolution, (or any other for that matter), in that, I understand the evolutionary process, but I get lost on the 'border' ...
21
votes
1answer
853 views

Do trees age on a microscopic level?

Most animals age via at least two mechinisms: at a "macroscopic" level, basically wear and tear to the point where (on evolutionary time scales) it's more genetically advantageous to optimize for ...
3
votes
1answer
461 views

How does temperature influence the rate of protein degradation?

For computer modeling purposes, I am looking for some referenced quantitative measurements of the effect(s) of temperature on biochemical reactions. Question In particular, my question is: How does ...
12
votes
3answers
2k views

Does a man contain all the genes needed to make a woman?

This question is brought on by a Sci Fi novel I am thinking about writing. The plot device involves a colonist in charge of building a population on a new planet who loses his supply of embryos and so ...
66
votes
3answers
4k views

Why did the process of sleep evolve in many animals? What is its evolutionary advantage?

The process of sleep seems to be very disadvantageous to an organism as it is extremely vulnerable to predation for several hours at a time. Why is sleep necessary in so many animals? What advantage ...
50
votes
4answers
4k views

Why are there no wheeled animals?

In physics, "almost everything is already discovered, and all that remains is to fill a few unimportant holes." (See Jolly.) Therefore, on Physics SE, people are veering off into different directions: ...
26
votes
3answers
3k views

Why Is Most Life Symmetrical Externally But Not Internally?

Mammals, reptiles, arachnids, insects, etc are all as far as I am aware symmetrical in appearance. Take a human for instance, make a line from the top of our head right down the middle. However, ...
5
votes
4answers
4k views

Bad Eyesight and Evolution

Why do many humans have bad eyesight, such as near-sightedness, which hampers performance in a wide variety of tasks? Shouldn't there be evolutionary pressure towards better eyesight?
3
votes
2answers
222 views

Human Evolution in Modern Times

I understand that evolution occurred to form the current hominids from a common ancestor millions of years ago. As evolutionary processes take a long time, is there proof of evolution occurring with ...
4
votes
3answers
369 views

Could a sperm be altered to contain a female's genetics?

while discussing with a friend a while back on the likelihood a Funtari (a woman with both fully developed and functioning sets of genitalia) existing in real life we got into a discussion of weather ...
77
votes
4answers
59k views

Why is uracil used in RNA rather than thymine?

What is the advantage gained by the substitution of thymine with uracil? I have read previously that it is due to thymine being "better protected" and therefore more suited to the storage role of ...
64
votes
4answers
10k views

Why 22 amino acids instead of 64?

This question got me thinking about amino acids and the ambiguity in the genetic code. With 4 nucleotides in RNA and 3 per codon, there are 64 codons. However, these 64 codons only code for 22 ...
30
votes
4answers
8k views

If evolution is not about increased complexity, why does so much complexity evolve?

In my last question I asked why we don't see increased complexity in artificial life simulations of evolution. It seems I had fallen for a common misconception, that evolution was about improvement by ...
18
votes
4answers
4k views

Why is the Hydra Biologically Immortal?

I have heard that the Hydra organism is biologically immortal (later I found that there are more immortal organisms). Now I know that its immortality is related to its telomerase. The thing is that we ...
25
votes
4answers
3k views

How do trees manage to grow equally in all directions?

I was walking down a road with these beautifully huge trees when this question occurred to me. Large trees with many thick branches have to grow equally in all directions, or they would tip over. Is ...
33
votes
1answer
5k views

What causes morning wood?

Sometimes men wake up with an erection in the morning. Why does this happen?
24
votes
5answers
2k views

Why are there species instead of a continuum of various animals?

As I understand it, various animal traits have to evolve gradually, but what happens to the species that are "neither here nor there"? To put it differently, if a species evolved from another, it did ...
16
votes
3answers
4k views

What causes a 'stuffy' or 'runny' nose when you have a cold?

When humans get the common cold, a common symptom is a stuffy or runny nose. Is that the body's immune response or is that the virus's doing?
9
votes
4answers
1k views

What prevents predator overpopulation?

I've often heard that a population, human or otherwise, will continue to grow as long as there is food available (assuming nothing else is killing them off). It makes sense: if you have food you can ...
31
votes
2answers
6k views

What actually happens when my leg 'falls asleep'?

Most people have experienced the temporary loss of feeling and tingling in their leg resulting from sitting in an abnormal position for a short while. Usually you get a loss of feeling in your leg ...
15
votes
3answers
1k views

What evolutionary explanations are there for death?

I know death and cancer doesn't hurt humans' reproductive success. It's not helping either. Why do we die? Why dying humans (all of us) are common? What's the point of dying?
9
votes
4answers
772 views

Are there any scientifically based predictions or theories of future human evolution?

Reading this question of the stack exchange got me thinking. I believe human evolution is an ongoing process and will not stop. Are there any predictions/theories about the phenotypes and genotypes of ...
4
votes
3answers
4k views

What if rB=C in hamilton's rule?

Hamilton's rule states that if rB>C then a gene giving altruistic behaviour will increase in frequency in the population. What would happen if rB=C? Will an individual perform the altruistic act?
9
votes
2answers
7k views

Why is saltatory conduction faster than continuous conduction?

How does spacing apart sodium and potassium channels allow the action potential to travel faster down the axon? This is the reason always cited for saltatory conduction and myelination, but my mental ...
8
votes
2answers
2k views

How to find miRNA binding sites on a specific gene?

I am trying to find miRNAs that bind to the 3'UTR of a specific gene. What is the best way of doing that (that is, with a good scoring analysis that is most commonly used by researchers in this area)? ...
8
votes
4answers
1k views

Does darker skin color make it easier to live under sun?

I have always thought darker colors absorb more heat from the sun, so if you are wearing a white T-shirt you will be cooler under sun than wearing a darker T-shirt, or a black piece of steel will be ...
3
votes
1answer
176 views

Are people genetically predisposed to being interested in specific fields/ideas? How does specialization occur?

I'm not sure if I formulated my question well, but I'm curious about a couple statements made by Steven Pinker and and James Heckman. In this interview: ...
23
votes
3answers
63k views

What is the difference between orthologs, paralogs and homologs?

These three terms are often misused in the literature. Many researchers seem to treat them as synonyms. So, what is the definition of each of these terms and how do they differ from one another?
23
votes
4answers
15k views

How many genes do we share with our mother?

Somewhere I have read we share more than 99% of our genes with every other other person and 98% of our genes with chimpanzees. What does this mean? Don't we share 50% of our genes with our mother and ...
38
votes
4answers
5k views

Why is polyploidy lethal for some organisms while for others is not?

Polyploidy is the multiplication of number of chromosomal sets from 2n to 3n (triploidy), 4n (tetraploidy) and so on. It is quite common in plants, for example many crops like wheat or Brassica forms. ...
12
votes
4answers
4k views

How do trees lift water higher than 10 meters?

The atmosphere pressure is 10 meters of water (approx). This means that it is impossible to lift water higher than 10 meters with vacuum or сapillary action (on Earth, under normal conditions). There ...
24
votes
1answer
905 views

Extremely rare occurence of Heart cancer?

The occurrence of Heart cancer (similar, but not the same as Rhabdomyosarcoma) is extremely rare, about 1 per year according to MayoClinic. The reason for this rarity is explained to be the ...
13
votes
3answers
4k views

Why does hair grow after trimming but remains at a constant length after a while?

Some hair especially body hair regrows after trimming but stops growing after a while. What is the mechanism behind control of hair growth and how is the length limit determined?
15
votes
4answers
3k views

Why do only two sexes exist for animals?

Why, from the natural selection point of view, do only two sexes exist for animals?

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