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there is a research namded : ( Genetic Redundancy Eliminates the Dream of Beneficial Mutations ) : pdfs.semanticscholar.org/99ab/9f57dc2a76af45d04652a69b295344cc208a.pdf
the writer of this research claims it disproves the Theory of Evolution ! what do you think about this ?
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Hello Amr; Nicolo has it right! I'll address only the premise. Whether a gene is "beneficial" or not depends entirely on the conditions of the environment in which it occurs. If the bearer of the "responsible" gene produces more than the average number of offspring in the population, then the gene is beneficial. That's all. It has essentially no bearing on the validity of the theory. Best wishes, Jim Des Lauriers
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I am working on evolutionary theory of firm. I have read Richard Dawkins and Gene Carroll's work. Any other pointers please?
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Dear Sridhar,
many thanks for your clarification! So, are you attemtping to develop an evolutionary theory of companies / corporations / businesses ? This would certainly be a very interesting undertaking. But back to your question: In terms of looking for the "basic building block of a firm" (as you put it) - are you searching here for - in evolutionary terms - a unit of selection within and/or between companies? In terms of evolutionary dynamics, I'd say that individuals certainly are subject to evolutionary forces and also units of selection. On the level of competition between companies, market pressures (and other external processes) may well be interpreted as selection pressures acting upon companies. Note that group selection may be at work here! However, on all other levels between the individual employee and his or her company, I am not sure whether units of selection in the strict evolutionary sense of the term may be identified. Working groups or teams, e.g., are often quite fluid and company departments, to name another example, may not always share a common group identity or other common denominator. On these levels, social dynamics may take the upper hand over evolutionary dynamics in the narrower sense of the term. Just my two cents worth, though... But would be interesting to learn more about your project!
All the best,
Julius
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Who gives the last word about the evolutionary process, genetics or ecology?
In other words, are ecological interactions driven by any genetic phenomenon? Or is it genetics that has been molded by ecology?
[I’m a Brazilian biologist and writer. I write about science – I have just released a new book, O que é darwinismo (What is Darwinism, in Portuguese) – and would like to know the opinion of colleagues from other countries (from any field of scientific knowledge).]
See also What do you think about fitness, adaptation and natural selection? (https://www.researchgate.net/post/What_do_you_think_about_fitness_adaptation_and_natural_selection)
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Nobel Prize winner Niko Tinbergen observed in his now classic 1963 paper, "On the aims and methods of ethology" (Zeitschrift fur Tierpsychologie 20: 410-433) that in order to adequately analyze observed patterns of behavioural ecology in a species, it is necessary to distinguish between *ultimate* and *proximate* causative factors. Ultimate factors include: i) the *function* (or "adaptive value") of a behaviour, and ii) the "phylogeny" (or evolutionary history) of a behaviour; proximate factors include: i) *ontogeny* (or behavioural changes related tp growth and development), and ii)*proximate conditions* (i.e., that which has happened in the recent past and that which is going on under current ecological conditions). So, what is needed in trying to gain insight on biological evolution is an holistic perspective that incorporates *both* genetics and ecology. A perfect example of the value of this integrated approach is the need for up-to-date data in both the genetic and ecological realms in order to deal with conservation biology issues.
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I know that this topic is kinda controversial to some, but, thru discussion, i suppose we can achieve greater understanding of the topic.
So, I wanna know what are the aspects, process, evidence, etc about evolution that you think is problematic?
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Hi everyone,
There seems to be a fundamental misunderstanding here. Evolution is by no means problematic, unscientific or lacks sufficient evidence. Speaking of the fossil record and that organisms don’t change – they do indeed and they do so quite dramatically and over short and long time periods. As a paleontologist, I study exactly those changes over millions of years. I do not want to criticize your belief, for I do not see any problem whatsoever to combine religion and science, they are just very different views on the subject. But please do not mix up a scientific approach, which tries to objectively explain how life has evolved based on facts, and a religious interpretation. Of course many findings of science are not 100% certain and it also involves some interpretation, but the same is true for every field of science.
Best regards, Thomas
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Do you agree with evolutionary theory?
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We need to distinguish between the fact of evolution and Darwin and Wallace's nineteenth-century explanations of the underlying mechanism. Virtually no biologists today doubt the fact that biological evolution took place over the last billion years, since it is the whole basis of modern biology without which the science loses its coherence. Darwin and Wallace's theory, that natural selection is the main mechanism underlying biological evolution, has been fundamentally and extensively confirmed by a vast array of subsequent findings in different fields of geology, chemistry and biology. Of course Darwin and Wallace were not able to provide a full explanation, since in those times genetics as a field did not exist - which actually makes their insight more remarkable. This means that there is now open and legitimate discussion of the details of the mechanisms of natural selection, sexual selection, genetics, etc. None of this discussion, however, puts the fundamental correctness of the theory in doubt and the fact of evolution is as reliable as any other profound set of ideas in any field of science.
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Since Darwin's early work 'Origin of Species' evolution has been linked with random processes. In the early evolutionary theory evolution was considered driven by random changes and this came to mean a random mutation to the genetics of life. It seems at large cosmological scales including solar systems resonance is involved. As we go higher the relationship to resonance is still there. Does this imply a process driven by resonance rather than random mutations? And how is cosmology linked to evolution?
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"Rosalind Franklin who was forgotten in the process of the Nobel Prize"
    This is a classic example of an alternative fact.   She did not get the DNA Nobel since
  1. She had died.
  2. No more than 3 can get a Nobel for a specific work
  3. She had not seen the full implications of her photos.
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I am  working on a gene which thought to be increases stress tolerant in plant if up-regulated but evolutionary algorithms shows that gene is evolved by neutral evolution. Now i am confused, how neutral evolution leads to stress adaptation or it is by chance.
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Thanking you, sir. It will help me a lot . 
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Speciation involves the splitting of a single evolutionary lineage into two or more genetically independent lineages. Extinctions essentially happen over a long period of time but due to different human activities, extinction is becoming more and more frequent as compared to before. I was just wondering if it was possible for extinct species to once again speciate under favourable conditions through evolution
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Even if the environment were the same it would take some amazing luck.  A collage of traits making up an organism doesn't have to be optimal, it just has to be better than others in terms of selection of the fittest.  So I say, in all practicality, the answer is no.
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I am interested in the evolution of knowledge and I am grateful for any input! 
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Thank you Jetty for this! I will read this article carefully.
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Oxygen is the most important element for human being to survive. Due to the exploding world population, the world is gradually running short of resources on earth. 
 Aims for the project:
We aim to suggest a new idea that people can live on oxygen which is created though their body. In order to handle with an issue of insufficient oxygen on earth, we hope our project to introduce an innovative way that human being can survive under harsh environment in distant future.
Where and how can the project lead to innovation?
During research, we found other species which can photosynthesize.
One of them, spotted salamander, in order to be partially photosynthetic, maintains a symbiotic relationship with algae cells. While it has long been known that a relationship existed between the salamander and the algae, it was presumed to be a relationship in which both organisms worked separately.
However, when researcher Ryan Kerney was studying a batch of spotted salamander embryos, he found a bright green color coming from inside their cells.
The chloroplasts were found near the mitochondria within the salamander’s cells,meaning that the mitochondria were likely directly consuming the oxygen and carbohydrates that are created through photosynthesis.
Can we apply this symbiotic relationship into human body system?
As it is known, all vertebrates have strong immune systems that tend to destroy any foreign material found within their cells. However, in the case of salamander, its cells either turn their internal immune system off, or the algae somehow bypasses it.
Although the reason for this is unknown, this makes the spotted salamander the first vertebrates to be discovered to have the ability to photosynthesize.
If it is the first vertebrate to photosynthesize, why not human beings?
Can we suggest a new way to survive under a condition with deficient oxygen?
Is it possible to create oxygen by ourselves?
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The following also one alternative for your project started in China. 
China’s first vertical forest is rising in Nanjing.
Seems they produce around 60 Kgs Oxygen per day
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Since the dawn of time, humankind’s singular ability to make decisions has allowed human beings to face innumerable environmental challenges and complex evolutionary dynamics. Environmental pressures are not so urgent anymore, comparing to our ancestors. Nonetheless, the number of decisions that contem- porary humans are called to make is very high. During the last three centuries, the change from normative to descriptive theories, from formal to natural logic, from substantive to limited rationality has allowed us to explain how many of the decisional strategies are coherent with the functioning of the cognitive economy of our species, even if they are limited and fallible.
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Exactly, Mauro - as described by James Wretch in 'Voices of the Mind' or 'Mind as Action' or Max Bazerman's idea of 'predictable surprise' or the thought process described by Robert Burton in his book 'On Being Certain'... The classical idea or notion of rational decision making is not really what happens happen anyway.
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What do current evolutionary theory and genetic theories explain this?
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Rumiko:
Lamarckism and the Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics is relevant today. For insights and further reading you may kindly have a look at this link:
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None Atomic Independent Substances & None Genetic Life?
Basic forces at universe constituted atom as a stable independent building block via evolution, so for we know.
Here there are few questions…….
1)     Why current form of atom is selected due to any reason(s) for the purpose to get accumulation of basic forces and energy at an independent stable design for building blocks?
2)      Is it only the atom(s) as stable building blocks which formed or any other types of building block also got formed during constitution of universe (in any direction)?
3)     Is the current form of atom(s) still undergoing to evolution?
4)     What if such formation of basic forces/ particles got/get another form rather than atom (regardless of particle or wave nature)
5)     Any supposed / reported simulation module to test such arrangements under some new design(s)
6)     Is it suitable & well equipped time to play with universal constituent forces, currently?
7)     What can be best replacement of Atom? Any hypothetical structural, functional and property profile?
8)     None cellular life have examples at Earth, what about the life without DNA & RNA, mean none genetic life (not the computer simulating life)……….what can be environmental parameters needed for it? Any hypothetical model for its functional structural, functional and interactional profile, especially about its expected level of relative freedom and intelligence?
Answers of none atomic independent substances will help to understand the universal mechanism more in depth and the answers of none genetic life help to understand the different forms of life in & outside of known universe including Alien life.
Thanks                                                                                                           
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It is so good (sorry, it feels so good) to exploit the brain and feel the satisfaction being part of the tiny minority discussing these things. If the so called 'baddies' can have motorcycle gangs, why can't we ...and I am one of you trying to be someone amongst us ...
Love you 
Suresh
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sometimes, we can see ecological pressure effect in gradual evolution and sometimes, a kind of interaction gene-from-gene. Which of them is more important in gradual evolution?
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What do we understand as gradual evolution? Evolution occurs in all life forms from viruses to prokaryotes to diverse eukaryotes, such as invertebrates and vertebrates and plants. Prokaryotes evolve largely by means of horizontal gene transfer and natural selection, e.g. resistance to antibiotics. Vertebrates have many facilitators of evolution, such as whole genome duplications, point mutations, retroviral endogenisations, and  numerous others, together with natural selection. I take it that gradual evolution would mean adaptations rather than speciation or large innovations, such as the evolution of the placenta, for example . Intra-genomic potential* together with ecological pressure, both biotic and abiotic, and natural selection would be the main drivers of adaptation or gradual evolution in many eukaryotes. However, much evolution occurs in a punctuated equilibrium manner in eukaryotes. 
I hope this helps you,
Regards,
Keith
* Intra-genomic potential, as defined in the TE-Thrust hypothesis, is a continuum from realisable adaptive potential to realisable evolutionary potential.
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According to the Darwinian hypothesis, the animal and plant species diversity (innumerable number of organisms of no less than 300,000 plant species and about 3,000,000 animal species, including those deleted as a result of mass extinctions) results from one or several germs of simplest organisms that had appeared accidentally about 3.9 Gya.
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To me, the most convincing evidence that all life originated from one ancestor is that the basic biochemistry of all organisms uses a common set of  molecules--DNA for information storage, mRNA to translate DNA into proteins, ATP for energy transfer from metabolic pathways to many energy consuming cell functions, etc. Perhaps in the beginning, basic biochemistry was more diverse, but the ancestor using this metabolism out-competed them.  I suppose that diverse ancestor metabolisms converged on these common molecules because they are the most efficient ones for the role. But, given the astronomical number of carbon based chemicals possible it would be a bit surprising if multiple efficient metabolisms were not possible.
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See Hallam's obituary for Seilacher in the Geoscientist 24(7):28.
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Dear Mark,
I remember various discusions with Dolf Seilacher and his student Wolf Reif on the constraint topic. Seilacher was most interested in "principles" of construction, arguing like an architect rather than an evolutionist. He was influenced by engineers of Stuttgart university. Reif, on the other hand, was the one who emphasized the constraints aspect more, but I presume his influence on Gould was limited, as they lived in different worlds of thought. So, in sum, I believe it was Seilacher who had influence on Gould, albeit in a rather superficial, general way.
To be honest, I think Gould had a rather fuzzy view of constraints, his definitons changed over time, were sometimes contradictory. Gould was more focused on contingency, rather than physical laws constraining evolution and potentially constraining the power of selection. This is why he emphasized "historical constraints" so often, a concept that I find problematic. Nevertheless, the spandrels paper was very important, and as so often, gained more attention than the earlier papers by Seilacher (1970, 1972) and Reif (1975), especially because these were mostly written in German.
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Charles Robert Darwin (1809–1882) was a British naturalist and geologist, famous for his contributions to the theory of evolution. Darwin recognized that all living species have descended from common ancestors in a timely manner. Together with Alfred Russel Wallace, he released a joint publication in which he introduced his scientific theory that stipulates that such a branching pattern of evolution has been ensued from a process that he named “natural selection”.
In 1859, Darwin published his Theory of Evolution in his famous book “On the Origin of Species”, overcoming the scientific rejection pertaining to earlier concepts of transmutation of species. In the 1870s much of the scientific community and the majority of the general public had accepted evolution as a fact. However, it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis when a broad consensus developed, between the 1930s to the 1950s, and in which natural selection was accepted as the basic mechanism of evolution.
Charles Robert Darwin’s Theory of Evolution – How to reconcile religious teaching with evolution?
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If I may venture an answer Marcel - I don't quite understand why we should try to reconcile Darwinian evolution with religious 'teaching' in the first place. I don't understand the point. Science works through hypothesis/corroboration. Religion works through ukase affirmations. Why should we then in principle attempt to reconcile these ?
There is also no proof whatsoever that a godhead or spirituality or whatever is actually true at the heart of mankind's spiritual experience has anything to do with formalized, ritualized religions. The world has seen thousands of religions come and pass, each one affirming loud that they are the only true one. Why should we arbitrarily pick one or two and try to 'reconcile' it with science?
Why is it that some members of mankind feel the need to co-opt spirituality and spiritual experiences and formalize them into arbitrary strictures? Do we truly believe that a godhead is somehow in need of hymns sung by mortals, of mortals doing certain things or dressing or behaving in a certain way? It's all a bit odd. This would seem to detract from godhood. Why would not any putative infinite godhead have a laissez-faire attitude towards lesser realms? Just asking.
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Karl Popper found on the basis of Godel's Incompleteness theorems that All scientific theories must be falsifiable. Falsifiability is a basic requirement of a theory to be scientific. Falsifiability requires that a theory make testable predictions on the basis of which it can be refuted.
In order to be scientifically acceptable any theory must make testable predictions. I wonder whether evolution theory makes any? The timescales of thousands of years for evolutionary and adaptive changes that are postulated in Darwinism, which would result in marked changes in the species, certainly renders any such prediction untestable in the foreseeable near future.
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As Daniel said, accordingly to evolutionary theory, all life on earth is linked through a chain of ancestry-descent, and evolutionary theory can predict that if a new species is to arise, it will be though modification of another(s) previously existing now: or by anagenetic change inside a lineage, or by cladogenetic splitting originating 2 or more species, or by merging of 2 or more species (hybridization, polyploidy, symbiogenesis, etc.). Of course, the origin of life entailed a transition from inorganic materia to organic (probably very simple) materia. But, if a complex unicellular organism (e.g. eukaryotic cell) or any multicellular organisms arise from inorganic materia directly, this would falsify evolutionary theory as we know it.
Evolution also predicts the idea of change in frequencies of inherited characters through generations, and based on that prediction, there are experiments corroborating evolution. You can see here Lynch long-term evolution experiment: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E._coli_long-term_evolution_experiment
A static, fixist-like species, with no change whatsoever, would falsify evolutionary theory.
Moreover, those changes can be adaptive and is expected that when environmental (biotic or abiotic) variables changes, species will change non-randomly, adaptively, otherwise they will be extinct in a long run. Adaptation is also evidenced in Lynch’s works, on Grant's couple work with Darwin’s finches, and extinction by changes in climate is also well documented.
A falsifier to that proposition would be a plastic species that could, without any phylogenetic change, indefinitely adapts to any harsh environmental change and avoid extinction, without change though generations. Is important to observe that a change in behavior is a plastic response, but when the behavioral pattern is inherited socially, and responsible for change in frequencies of that behavior through generation, it is phylogenetic.
Adaptations are also expected to benefit the fitness of bearer, directly or indirectly (this will include group/kin-selection). Adaptations in a species that benefit exclusive the fitness of another species (note that this exclude by-products effects) is a potential falsifier for the adaptive theory of evolution.
These are few examples, and with a more robust search one can find more. Is necessary observe that modern evolutionary theory is more than just Darwin's theory, appreciate it’s growth, and the biological scientific advance since 1959.
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It is estimated that 80-90% of the genes in a typical eukaryotic genome are duplicates of more ancient genes. Many of these copies have diverged in sequence over time but few, if any, have become distinctly different in their basic functionality and, in the case of enzymes, catalytic chemistry. So how does gene duplication explain major innovations in biochemical function?
As an example, the integrin gene family is composed of two sub-groups, alpha and beta, where one ancestral gene in each group has undergone repeated duplication. However, this does not account for the origins of the proto-alpha and proto-beta integrins. Moreover, alpha and beta types are completely different in their sequence, size and organization, implying that they are not related but have independently evolved. One could also invoke the example of the bilaterian hox gene cluster ( 13-14 genes in number) which is believed to have been derived from 7 ancestral hox genes that also appear to be unrelated except for the fact that they share the homoebox motif/domain.
So, is gene duplication still relevant to the origins of new types of genes, rather than just slightly different variations on the same theme, and what prospect do alternatives like "de novo origination" (i.e the exonization of non-coding DNA) have in explaining this crucial question of evolutionary biology and theory?
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There are at least three possibilities for the emergence of completely new protein structures observed in a phylogeny.
However a study that compares them head-to-head in term of their evolutionary contribution is extremely difficult to assess. It'd be great to see it though.
1. The most addressed is that a gene duplicates and loses its selective pressure, and before it's lost as a pseudogene, it enters a phase of adaptive evolution, which forces it into unexplored portions of the sequence/funcional space. This possibility, however, has only a few recognized examples (like antifreeze proteins in cold resistant fishes).
2. The second one, which has gathered attentions over the last years is de novo from non coding regions. There are numerous examples for this, including protein and non protein coding genes in yeasts, mice, humans, arabidopsis, ants, drosophila and fishes.
3. The third one has been recognized in viruses for a long time, it's called overprinting of alternative reading frames, and implies the exaptation of a previously unused reading frame, different from the one that bears the current selective pressure. The extent to which this happens in large eukaryotes is still unknown, although the author of de novo paper on yeast says it's a high proportion of what seems de novo.
For introductory references i'd suggest the following literature:
More elaborate studies, similar to the ones highlighted above by Begun and Jones:
On overprinting:
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One of the recent paper concludes "epigenetics allows the peaceful co-existence of Darwinian and Lamarckian evolution." In addition, a number of recent articles, including this nature article (http://www.nature.com/nature/journal/v467/n7318/full/nature09491.html) concludes inheritance of acquired characters (of individual, through environmental effects) via epigenetic mechanisms.
Would this mean the reemergence of Lamarckism after 200 years of continuous criticism as "non-scientific"?
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It is matter of confusion. What really had Lamark himself (and “the lamarkists”) in mind? It was quite clear view. There is well-known biological phenomenon of phenotypic plasticity. Organisms may change their phenotypes in different environment or as a result of exercise. Lamark thought that these changed (acquired) traits can be transmitted to the progeny. If white man is sunbathed he will get brown or even black. (It is adaptation to radiation.). Lamark thought that that the children of that man may become brown without sun radiation. Essence of Lamarkism is as follows: environment creates organisms deliberately, purposefully, makes them adapted. This view is clearly nonscientific. Environment cannot behave purposefully.
The habitual term “acquired traits” may be misleading. It hints that traits are created by environment. I am white man. I may be also brown man. Why to think that “white” is inherited and “brown” is acquired”? The real trait is “from white to brown depending on environment”.
This ability to be different in different environment is inheritable property of organism. And this ability is adaptive. The resent resurrection of Lamarkism (because of Jablonka and Lamb) is just confusion. Lamarkism is inheritance of acquired traits. And nothing more.
All traits are acquired, and all are not inherited, or innate, because—strictly speaking—the fertilized ovum with its chromosomes, organelles, proteins and membranes is the only stuff inherited. All the rest is created de novo by the organism, not by the environment, in the course of ontogenesis.
The reductionist construal of DNA as the sole heredity substance is an oversimplification. The existence of genetic, epigenetic, behavioral, and symbolic inheritance (Jablonka and Lamb 2005) shows that the material transmitted from generation to generation is not only DNA; there is hierarchy of heredity substances. We really need a holistic comprehension of the phenomenon of life. In the case of unicellular organisms, daughter cells inherit not only the entire genome but also the entire equipment for reproduction of the mature cell, in fact, no less than the whole young cell. Without this equipment, the genome would be just a dead text with nothing to read it. By analogy, the “heredity substance” of a population of sexual organisms is not just a gene pool, but the generation as a whole, overlapping generations. There is no special substance whose sole function is heredity. Heredity is an integral property of living entities, their ability of accurate self-reproduction. Depending on what biological entity is considered, a given trait may be “acquired” or “inherited”. For me personally, my Russian language is an acquired trait; for Russia, it is inherited; whereas the corresponding trait of all mankind is “diversity of languages,” this trait being inherited.
DNA is a very important component of the entity; it is the basic memory of a cell, but there are other levels of memory. Most importantly, “heredity in action” is not just a memory; it is the process carried out by the whole living system. Ontogenesis is carried out in the environment, but the two participants of the process—the organism and its environment—are not isomorphic and cannot be regarded as equal partners. Even the simplest cell, a minimal quant of life, is an incredibly complex and high-organized system. The cell is a real thermodynamic miracle. What is the environment? For example, for Cyanobacteria, and all green plants, the minimum environment includes water, CO2, mineral salts, and light. In such a milieu, the cell builds itself and multiplies, producing thousands of different proteins and other macromolecules, and a lot of low molecular weight organics. It is the creation of its own world from nearly nothing! How can we justly equate such unequal counterparts?! The organism is organized while the environment is chaotic; the organism is creative while the environment is destructive; the organism reifies an ontogenetic program during its life, while the environment has no intention about the organism; the organism knows the environment, takes selectively what it needs and protects itself against what is harmful, while the environment knows nothing about the organism; the organism is alive while the environment is dead. The organism is infinitely higher than the environment in structural, thermodynamic and informational contexts. The organism is existence while the environment is the conditions in which the organism exists.
Not only lay people, but also scientists sometimes treat energy as a spiritual force; however energy in itself is an entropic, i.e. destructive, factor. It is also a component of the environment and, as such, not endowed with creative ability. The expression “the environment modifies the organism” is heuristically harmful. It ascribes creativity to the environment whereas the opposite is true: organisms adaptively modify their bodies to different environments. This capability, phenotypic plasticity, is a property of the organism, not of the environment. The Darwinian selection of random heritable changes saves organisms from erosion produced by the environment because the environment does not settle on the changes themselves.
Adaptive evolution in its extreme manifestation, at a high selective advantage, would
be indistinguishable from “Lamarckian evolution” by its evolutionary consequences. Undergoing rapid genetic change in a changing environment, species would lose their self-identity and turn into a derivative of the environment. Real species last in time, and therefore, demonstrate resistance to environmental challenges, both direct (Lamarckism) and those acting as selective factors (Darwinism). Were adaptive evolution not severely restricted by the necessity of maintaining an internal perfection of the organism, it would lead to the same final outcome as the imaginary Lamarckian evolution: degradation and chaos, Brownian motion of ephemeral forms bringing organisms down to the thermodynamic level of the dead environment. In other words, there is no Lamarckian evolution in reality. The notorious forming force of environment should be regarded as a metaphor, and a bad one. Of course, Lamarkism is not dead because it is believing, not scientific theory. I know that many very clever people believe in Lamarkism and during their entire life search for its evidence. Be kind and let them to believe.
I am far from the thought that environment plays no role in ontogeny and phylogeny. I am not even going to ignore the famous mantra “organism-environment unity”. I just state that the two parts of this unity are ontologically different and this difference has not been properly outlined. If there were no water, no SCUBA gear and waterproof coats would have ever appeared. But to say that these things result from interaction between human beings and water would be clumsy. When it is raining, I open an umbrella. Yet I do not like to think that environment rules my behavior. Any interaction of a living system with environment is of a similar sort: creativity, reason, will and mind, are on the side of living systems.
Nurture is not environment. It is a component of living systems that evolved along with organisms. Nurture is just a mechanism of ontogenesis aimed at proper maturation of the individual organisms. In case of sexual organisms, the Darwinian individual is the biological species evolving as a whole (Shcherbakov 2010, 2013). Parents are not the environment of their children. Rather they are continuation of the womb, the extended phenotype (Dawkins 1982). The same is true for teachers, tutors, mentors, preceptors, and for other population members. Their relation to the individual organism is the same as the relation of cell to chromosome. It may be interesting to analyze such an “environment” separately from the organism. But it is important not to forget to reunite the whole entity.
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A fundamental question to evolution theory is: why is sex so common? Specifically, in multicellular animals it is common to have equal sex ratios of females and males. Imagine in such a population a female that asexually produces only female offspring that again produce only female offspring: compared to the rest of the population they would have a doubled fitness (cf. Red-Queen-Hypothesis).
Thus one would ask: why is sex so common? But is it? Humans have about 10^14 cells, which requires at least 46 mitotic cell cycles to grow. Thus, when considering a multicellular animal as a colony of cells, sexual reproduction is still quite rare, in our case only once in at least 46 generations! I wouldn't call that often.
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Dear Marc de Lussanet:
If you think that “the concept of biological species is irrelevant here”, you are far from understanding the situation. Emergence of sexual reproduction and transition to biological species are just the same evolutionary event. Essence of the sexual reproduction is formation of progeny genome by tailoring it from two parental genomes, not by simple copying. The tailoring includes two steps: meiosis is cutting out, fertilization is sewing together. Individual genomes are not reproduced. Gene pool is reproduced instead. It is a qualitative evolutionary leap. Speaking in short, the matter is that large genomes cannot be reproduced with adequate accuracy. Your question was “is sex common?” My answer is yes, if you mean eukaryotes. I would even say that it is obligatory. There are some rare exceptions among most simple eukaryotes that need special explanation. And the relevant people persistently search (and find) such special explanations. Some species retain ability to reproduce asexually yet they obligatory include sexual reproduction in their life cycle. All prokaryotes are asexual. Numerically, they exceed far the eukaryotes, so you may say that sex is not common. I would like to state that sex and sexual reproduction ontologically quite different things. Prokaryotes have sex but not sexual reproduction. Biological meaning of the various genetic exchanges between asexual organisms is quite different from that of sexual reproduction.
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I'm specifically interested in analyzing whether sexual selection played a role in the diversification of a family of fishes, some of which exhibit pronounced sexual dimorphisms.
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Dear Max, quite simply (but laboriously) you could conduct mate-choice experiements on the one hand and artificial insemination experiments plus fitness/performance/ survival of off-spring (theoretically from zygote to reproductive adult) on the other. (In theory one would also test for break-down of fitness in consecutive generations.)
In all these experiments one would compare the interspecific crosses (both directions) with the intraspecific crosses of both species. There is a considerable body of publications on analysing reproductive barriers including discussions on the methodology of teasing apart the various barriers and neat examples from Drosophila and other organisms.
Having said all that, analysing a well resolved, species-rich phylogeny would be a first and perhaps easier way to address the question.Besides the question whether clades containing sexually ornamentated species are more species-rich, it will be interesting to see how often sexual ornamentation arises or gets lost - and under which condidtions.
Bear in mind that ecological factors favouring gain or loss of sexual ornamantation may directly affect speciation or may be correlated with factors affecting speciation rate.