This Wikipedia article states:

Macroevolution is evolution on a scale of separated gene pools. Macroevolutionary studies focus on change that occurs at or above the level of species, in contrast with microevolution, which refers to smaller evolutionary changes (typically described as changes in allele frequencies) within a species or population. ... macro and microevolution describe fundamentally identical processes on different time scales.

My question is: Is this a valid claim? Can we say that creating the genetic information for a feather is not qualitatively different from changing the colour of that feather?


1 Answer 1


You are mixing up two different things in your question:

  1. the mechanisms (processes) that cause micro- and macroevolution, and
  2. the genetic basis for different types of traits.

The processes of evolution (selection & drift acting on genetic variation) are the same for both micro- and macroevolution, and this what the Wikipedia article is stating. The second question is dealing with the amount of cumulative genetic change that is needed for different types of traits. This naturally differs dramatically between traits (the accumulated genetic change that is), and is also reflected by the different scopes of micro- and macroevolution. Macroevolution is usually studying problems above the species level, and therefore often larger morphological changes, while microevolution is dealing with smaller changes within species and populations. The macro/micro division is also artificial and should be seen as a continuum.


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