2
$\begingroup$

I recently dived into the topic of instincts and now I have a question, where I haven't found anything about.

There's this thesis (I think mentioned here amongst others) that, through epigenetics, learned instincts can be passed along in genes and can over time be permanently integrated into the genome.

But...

Why is there no mentioning about how instincts can disappear over time, if they're simply not useful anymore? Or is it just not possible?

$\endgroup$
9
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ If its like any other genetic trait, there needs to be selective pressure for it to be counter-productive to be weeded out. Merely not being useful is not necessarily sufficient. though I suppose over extremely long periods of time it may get diluted out by mutation if it presents no beneficial or ill consequences. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Feb 3 at 16:13
  • $\begingroup$ @DKNguyen - That would make a good answer. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 3 at 16:25
  • $\begingroup$ OP: The Russian fox farm experiment would give you a lot of information on the loss of instinctive behavior through selective pressure. $\endgroup$ Commented Feb 3 at 16:31
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ @anongoodnurse That's super interesting. I had no idea there was an experiment being run like that and with such definitive results showing themselves so quickly. $\endgroup$
    – DKNguyen
    Commented Feb 5 at 0:58
  • 1
    $\begingroup$ Because behaviors are lost in the same way, it can take a long time to lose a an organ or tissue if it has no direct detriment. it is lost through drift. $\endgroup$
    – John
    Commented Feb 22 at 23:41

1 Answer 1

4
$\begingroup$

If it is like any other genetic trait, it will only be weeded out if there exists selective pressure that makes it counter-productive. Merely not being useful is not necessarily sufficient. Though I suppose over extremely long periods of time, it may get diluted out by mutation and propagation of those mutations if it persists in having no beneficial or detrimental effects.

$\endgroup$

You must log in to answer this question.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged .