This notion derived from the typical relationship between structure and function: that an organism's structures seem suitable ("adapted") for their tasks. Until Darwin, the cause for adaptation was commonly ascribed to intelligent (divine) guidance. Darwinians replaced this view by proposing that an adaptation is any trait that replaces other variants because of selection for greater reproductive success (See Fitness). An adaptation is a trait whose presence enhances survival or fertility. It is selection rather than intelligent design that produces and/or maintains the correlation between structure and function. The complexities of evolution, however, shroud the Darwinian concept with many qualifications. For example, should selection cease or reverse its direction, as occurs for traits that become vestigial, then the trait is no longer an adaptation, although it may have been in the past. Traits that are not maintained by selection (that is, not related to reproductive success) are generally considered "nonadaptive." Such traits may be introduced or persist in a population through mutation, random genetic drift, the accidental extinction of adaptive varieties, developmental constraints that now impede their elimination, close linkage with genes selected for other functions (See Hitchhiking), or as one of the multiple phenotypic effects of a selected gene (See Pleiotropy). Also, not all selected traits are necessarily beneficial to a population, since some may increase the reproductive success of genes or individuals but not benefit (or even decrease) populationfitness (See Segregation distortion, Sexual selection). Even when selected traits are unquestionably adaptive, they often involve "trade-offs" in other traits that can lose adaptive advantages. (For example, trees that grow competitively taller put more resources into wood production than seed production.) In addition, earlier selected stages of an adaptation may have been for a function different from that of a later stage (See Preadaptation). In general, since it is quite difficult to examine historical circumstances leading to a particular trait, it can be difficult to determine how or to what extent it is an adaptation. Mostly, such determinations depend on evaluating functional utility ("optimality") for reproductive success, based on the reasonable assumption that a useful trait generally replaces or has replaced less useful variants. Unfortunately, since it can also be challenging to establish functional utility—to uncover a trait's many possible variations, and to compare their relative reproductive success—identifying adaptations can be controversial. Although selection may not be obvious, it is difficult to accept that any prominent nonadaptive trait can long persist without being affected by selection in some way and to some degree. The term is also frequently used for the process that produces adaptations (natural selection). However adaptations are defined, it is the genetic transmission of traits whose structure and function let their carriers interact successfully with the environment that drives evolution and makes biology unique and historical.
A model originally devised by Sewall Wright that describes a topography in which high fitnesses correspond to peaks and low fitnesses to valleys; each position potentially occupied by a population bearing a unique and frequent genotype.
The diversification of a single species or group of related species into new ecological or geographical zones to produce a large variety of species and groups. Such events may include the following: 1. Survivors of a catastrophe (for example, mammals) invade the adaptive zones that were abandoned by extinct species (for example, dinosaurs). 2. One or a few colonizers enter a new habitat in which competing species are absent (for example, the Hawaiian Drosophilidae). 3. One group of species (for example, pollinating insects) evolves in step with the adaptive radiation of another group (for example, angiosperms), or parasites (for example, viruses and bacteria) evolve new strains in concert with proliferation of their hosts (for example, humans). 4. A preadaptive feature (for example, the shelled reptilian amniotic egg) allows invasion into a previously inaccessible ecological zone (for example, terrestrialhabitats). 5. A new morphological or physiological character (for example, pharyngeal jaw innovations in cichlid fishes) causes divergent evolution by partitioning the environment into different niches. These various historical contingencies promote genetic diversity by letting selection—the primary biological force changing organisms through time—channel evolution in new directions.
Differential growth rates of different body parts; during development one feature may change at a rate different from that of another feature, resulting in achange of shape. (For a change in developmental timing, see Heterochrony.)
The particular form (amino acid sequence) of an enzyme produced by a particular allele at a gene locus when there are different possible forms of the enzyme (different possible amino acid sequences), each produced by a different allele.
Organic molecules of the general formula R-CH(NH,)COOH, possessing both basic (NH2) and acidic (COOH) groups, as well as a side group (R) specific for each type of amino acid. Normally 20 different types of amino acids are used in cellularly synthesized proteins.
The possession of a similar character by two or more quite different species or groups that arises from a developmental pathway unique to each group; that is, the similarity is caused by factors other than their distant common genetic ancestry. (See also Convergence.)
Conspicuous warning coloration in potential prey species that advertises their toxicity or distastefulness to predators. Aposematic patterns usually contain bright colors or shades such as those found among wasps, monarch butterflies, coral snakes, skunks, and poisonous salamanders.
Prokaryotes that, unlike eubacteria, do not incorporate muramic acid into their cell walls and possess other distinguishing characteristics. They are considered to represent one of the early cell forms.
Mating among individuals on the basis of their phenotypic or genotypic similarities (positive assortative) or differences (negative assortative) rather than mating among all individuals on a random basis.
The similarity in appearance of a harmless species (the mimic) to a species that is harmful or distasteful to predators (the model), maintained because of selective advantage to the relatively rare mimic.
Holy book of Christianity. Its canon has been fixed for over 1700 years, although the rise of Protestantism and the Protestant Bible has led to minor variations. Comprised of two smaller books called the Old Testament and the New Testament.
A term used mostly to describe terrestrialtetrapod locomotion that is restricted to the hind limbs when these two limbs move alternately (for example, human walking) rather than together (for example, kangaroo jumping).
The opening formed by the invagination of cells in the embryonic gastrula, connecting its cavity (archenteron) to the outside. In protostome phyla the blastopore is the site of the future mouth, whereas in deuterostomes the blastopore becomes the anus and the mouth is formed elsewhere.
The interval between about 545 and 505 million years before the present, marking the plentiful appearance of fossilized organisms with hardened skeletons. It is considered the beginning of the Phanerozoic time scale (eon) and is the first period in the Paleozoicera.
The eighteenth- and nineteenth-century concept that fossilized organisms and changes in geological strata were produced by periodic, violent, and widespread catastrophic events (presumably caused by capricious supernatural forces) rather than by naturally explainable events based on laws that act uniformly through time. (See also Uniformitarianism.)
The period from 65 million years ago to the present, marked by the absence of dinosaurs and the radiation of mammals. This is the third and most recent era of the Phanerozoic eon and is divided into two major periods, the Tertiary and Quaternary.
Divergence in the appearance or measurement of a character between two species when their distributions overlap in the same geographical zone, compared to the similarity of the character in the two species when they are geographically separated. When common resources are limited, it is presumed that competition between overlapping species leads to divergent specializations and therefore to divergence in characters that were formerly similar.
Linkage between a chemical process (electron transport chain) and a proton pump that causes protons (H+) to be transferred across a membrane. This creates a proton gradient that drives a membrane-bound enzyme, ATP synthetase, to catalyze the reaction ADP + Pi->ATP.
One of the two sister products of a eukaryotic chromosome replication, marked by an attachment between the sister chromatids at the centromere region. When this attachment is broken during the mitotic anaphase stage, each sister chromatid becomes an independent chromosome.
A length of nucleic acid comprising a linear sequence of genes that is unconnected to other chromosomes. In eukaryotes, histone proteins are bound to nuclear chromosomes, and this protein-nucleic acid complex can be made microscopically visible as deeply staining filaments.
A gradient of phenotypic or genotypic change in a population or species correlated with the direction or orientation of some environmental feature, such as a river, mountain range, north-south transect, or altitude.
A statistical term used to describe relationships among different gene sequences that are all descended from a common ancestral sequence (the "coalescent"). Instead of a genealogical tree expanding each generation from its apex toward its base, the tree is conceived as collapsing (coalescing) by proceeding in reverse, from base to apex.
Nonprotein enzyme-associated organic molecules (for example, NAD, FAD, and coenzyme A), that participate in enzymatic reactions by acting as intermediate carriers of electrons, atoms, or groups of atoms.
Relationship between organismic units (for example, individuals, groups, species) attempting to exploit a limited common resource in which each unit inhibits, to varying degrees, the survival or proliferation of another unit by means other than predation.
A state of intricate organization caused by arrangement or interaction among different component parts or processes: presumably, the greater the number of interacting parts, the greater the complexity. The term levels of complexity describes gradations in which complex organizations are included (nested) within others. (See also Hierarchy.) Attempts to compare the degrees of complexity among organisms have used numbers of their different kinds of structures, organs, tissues, cells, genes, and proteins. However, such numbers do not always change in a consistent fashion, and MeShea points out, "Something maybe increasing [in evolution]. But is it complexity?"
Constraint has been used in biology to describe factors that limit charactervariation or evolutionary direction. According to some authors, the term applies to traits molded primarily by physical agents and laws, such as crystallization, friction, gravity, and surface tension, but unaffected by historical contingencies, such as selection. Others argue that excluding biological factors does not help explain distinctions among phenotypic variants, nor the causes for differences among lineages. A biological concept of constraint therefore seems more useful to evolutionists - phenotypic channeling and evolutionary trends caused mostly by processes involving adaptation. That is, because adaptation depends on the availability of appropriate genes, adaptive constraints are mostly tied to organismic histories: constraints are affected by genes that evolved and were selected previously. Among such constraining forces are directional selection, stabilizing selection, canalization, and factors that may limit or direct genetic mutability, as well as developmental innovation. Some constraints may focus phenotypic trends in adaptive directions, but others (limited genetic variation and restricted developmental ability) may also limit response to new environmental challenges, leading even to extinction. Although constraints can provide reasonable explanations for trends and attributes, postulating which particular constraints were in force seems highly conjectural in the absence of detailed historical-phylogenetic information. For a term that can apply to so many different phiiiomena, constraint's usage in specific instances needs to be defined.
Creationist term for the beginning when God created the earth and the universe. For YECs creation was only some thousands of years ago and is literally described in Genesis. For OECs creation was billions of years ago and Genesis is interpreted allegorically.
Photosynthetic prokaryotes possessing chlorophyll a but not chlorophyll b. Many are photosynthetic aerobes (oxygen producing) and some are anaerobes (not oxygen producing). Formerly called blue- green algae, their color caused by a bluish pigment masking the chlorophyll.
A nucleic acid that serves as the genetic material of all cells and many viruses; composed of nucleotides that are usually polymerized into long chains, each nucleotide characterized by the presence of a deoxyribose sugar.
Instances in which the phenotypic effect of a particular allele (for example, A, the dominant) is expressed in both the heterozygote (Aa) and hornozygote (AA), but the phenotypic effect of the other allele (for example, a, the recessive) is not expressed in heterozygotes but only in homozygotes (aa).
The shift in wavelength of light or sound that is perceived as the emitting body moves toward us (shorter wavelengths, for example, blue-shifted) or away from us (longer wavelengths, for example, red-shifted).
A mechanism that compensates for the difference in number of X chromosomes (or Z chromosomes) between males and females so the metabolic activities (gene expression) of their X-linked genes are equalized. Although dosage compensation is widespread among animals, the mechanism by which it is accomplished varies. In species with XY males and XX females such as Drosophila, male X-linked genes show increased gene expression, whereas in mammals only one X chromosome in each sex is metabolically active and any additional X chromosomes are inactivated.
A distinctive feature of angiosperm plants in which two nuclei from a male pollen tube fertilize the female gametophyte, one producing a diploid embryo and the other producing polyploid (usually triploid) nutritional endosperm.
The environmental habitat of a population or species, including the resources it uses and its interactions with other organisms. Since resources and interactions are rarely constant, populations remain continually subject to selective pressures for adaptational change. A particular organism's ecological niche is commonly reflected in its adaptations when these can be specified. (See Adaptation.)
A technique that separates dissolved particles subjected to an electrical field according to their mobility. Given a particular medium through which a particle moves, electrophoretic mobility depends on the size of the particle, its geometry, and electrical charge.
The layer of cells that lines the primitive gut (archenteron) during the early stages of development in animals, and later forms the epithelial lining of the intestinal tract and internal organs such as the liver, lung, and urinary bladder.
A relationship between two different organisms in which one (the endosymbiont) lives within the tissues or cell of the other, benefiting one or both. It is now generally thought that some eukaryotic organelles, such as mitochondria and chloroplasts, had an endosymbiotic prokaryotic origin.
The measure of disorder of a physical system. In a closed system, to which energy is not added, the second law of thermodynamics essentially states that entropy, or energy unavailable for work, will remain constant or increase but never decrease. Living systems, however, are open systems, to which energy is added from sunlight and other sources, and order can therefore arise from disorder in such systems, that is, energy available for work can increase and entropy can decrease.
A major division of the geological time scale, often divided into two eons beginning from the origin of the earth 4.5 billion years ago: the Precambrian or Cryptozoic (rarity of life forms) and the Phanerozoic (abundance of life forms).
The concept that tissues and organs are formed by interaction between cells and substances that appear during development, rather than being initially present in the zygote (preformed). (See also Preformationism. )
Interactions between two or more gene loci that produce phenotypes different from those expected if each locus were considered individually. In statistical population studies that evaluate the causes for phenotypic differences, the term epistasis is commonly used for all phenotypic variation caused by interaction between nonallelic genes.
One of the categories into which geological time is divided; a subdivision of a geological period. For periods divided into three epochs, they are often named Early, Middle, and Late; for example, Early Cambrian period, . . .
A nucleotide sequence in a gene that is transcribed into messenger RNA and spliced together with the transcribed sequences of other exons from the same gene. The continuous RNA molecule formed is then transferred to the ribosome and forms the template used in polypeptide synthesis. Exons ("expressed sequences") are separated from other exons in the same gene by intervening nontranslated sequences (See Intron) that are removed from the rnRNA. Such intron-exon split genes are commonly found in eukaryotes but are almost entirely absent in prokaryotes,
The effect caused by a sampling accident in which only a few "founders" derived from a large population begin a new colony. Since these founders carry only a small fraction of the parental population's genetic variability, radically different gene frequencies can become established in the new colony. (See also Bottleneck effect.)
The concept that an accidental event in the distant past was responsible for the presence of a universal feature in living organisms. Such events may include an accident in which the present genetic code was used by a group of early organisms that managed to survive some populational bottleneck, thereby conferring this particular code on later organisms.
A system of numerous stars such as the Milky Way (150 billion stars, 100,000 light-years across) held together by mutual gravitational effects. Galaxies, in turn, are grouped into clusters and superclusters. Our own supercluster, centered on Virgo, contains many thousands of galaxies and is more than 100 million light-years across.
Two or more gene loci in an organism whose similarities in nucleotide sequences indicate they have been derived by duplication from a common ancestral gene (for example, the p-globin gene family, which includes beta, gamma, delta and epsilon genes).
Human-directed repair or replacement of genes that cause inherited diseases. When confined to somatic (body) cells rather than to sex cells (sperm or eggs), such gene repairs are not passed on to future generations.
A taxonomic category that stands between family and species: a family may comprise a number of genera, each of which contains a number of species that are presumably related to each other by descent from a common ancestor. In taxonomic binomial nomenclature, the genus is used as the first of two words in naming a species; for example. Homo (genus) sapiens (species).
Cells or tissues in a multicellular organism that are exclusively devoted to transmitting hereditary information to offspring, either asexually or by means of gametes (sex cells). These "germ-line" cells are in contrast to the somatic cells that produce the nongerm-line body tissues.
The supercontinent in the Southern Hemisphere formed from the breakup of the larger Pangaea landmass about 180 million years ago. Gondwana was composed of what is now South America, Africa, Antarctica, Australia, and India.
The eighteenth-century concept that instead of a static universe, there is a continuous progression of stages leading to a superior supernatural being; the transformation of the "Ladder of Nature" into a succession of moving platforms.
Selection acting on the attributes of a group of related individuals in competition with other groups rather than only on the attributes of an individual in competition with other individuals. For example, altruism may not be beneficial to the individual altruist but can be quite beneficial to a group containing altruists. The fitness of an individual in such a group is thus, at least partially, associated with the properties of the group.
The concept that metazoans developed from swimming hollow-balled colonies of flagellated protozoans that evolved an anterior-posterior orientation in searching for food. The anterior cells, specialized for digestion, invaginated through a circular blastopore to form a digestive archenteron, and this bilayered cup, called a gastrula or gastraea, was, according to Haeckel, the progenitor of the gastrula developmental stage found in some present-day metazoans.
The time required for the decay of one-half the original amount of a radioactive isotope: a period of one half-life reduces the isotope amount by one half so that a length of two half-lives leaves a remainder of one-quarter, three half-lives, a remainder of one-eighth, and so on. Each radioactive isotope has a distinctive half-life period, which remains constant over time.
A sequence of nucleotides, restriction sites, or marker genes inherited as a linked unit from one parent. Since more than a single genetic locus may be involved, a haplotype may be composed of a string of alleles.
In a general sense, the degree to which — - variations in the phenotype of a character are caused by genetic differences; traits with high heritabilities can be more easily modified by selection than traits with low heritabilities. (One measure of the heritability of a trait is the ratio of its genetic variance to its phenotypic variance—"broad sense heritability.") Obtaining a trustworthy heritability estimate demands considerable experimental control and is often valid for extremely limited conditions; that is, for specific genotypes in specific environments.
A region of the eukaryotic chromosome that stains differently from normal-staining "euchromatin" because of its tightly compacted structure. Compared to euchromatin, it is also characterized by possessing very few active genes and many more repetitive DNA sequences. It constitutes about 15 percent of the human genome and about 30 percent of the Drosophila genome, much of it located on either side of chromosomecentromeres. In Drosophila, it also constitutes almost the entire Y chromosome.
A term Haeckel originally proposed to describe changes in timing of an organ's development during evolution. Such changes were used to explain departures from the "recapitulation" of phylogeny expected during ontogeny of descendant species. (See Biogenetic law.) Its present usage varies but still hinges on a phylogenetic change in developmental timing, whether of one organ relative to other organs, or of one organ relative to the same ancestral organ. (For organs whose growth rate changes relative to other organs, see Allometry.) Among the consequences of heterochrony are shifts in relative development of reproductive and nonreproductive tissue. (See also Paedomorphosis.) Such changes can cause an organism: (a) to appear more juvenile because its nonreproductive tissues develop more slowly (neoteny), or (b) reach sexual maturity earlier because its reproductive tissues develop more rapidly (progenesis). Some authors add other terms to describe degrees of developmental contraction or extension.
The sex that produces two kinds of gametes for sex determination in offspring, one kind for males and the other for females. The heterogametic sex is the male in mammals and the female in birds. (See also Sex chromosomes.)
The increase in vigor and performance that can result when two different, often inbred strains are crossed. Since each inbred parental strain may be homozygous for different deleterious recessive alleles (for example, a1a1×a2a2), the cause for has been ascribed by some authors to thesuperiority of heterozygotes (for example, a1a2). (See Heterozygote advantage.)
An organism that cannot use inorganic materials to synthesize the organic compounds needed for growth but obtains them by feeding on other organisms or their products, such as a carnivore, herbivore, parasite, scavenger, or saprophyte.
The term was classically defined by W. B. Cannon to denote the tendency of a (physiological) system to react to an external disturbance so that the system is not displaced from normal values. Probably its most common use applies to traits that measure or perform at constant values in the face of disturbing forces. An example is the persistence of a specific phenotype although confronted with genetic or environmental differences (for example, canalization, p. 358).
Homeosis was originally defined by William Bateson as "something [that] has been changed into the likeness of something else." In modern genetic usage, homeotic mutations cause the development of tissue in an inappropriate position; for example, the bithorax mutations in Drosophila that produce an extra set of wings. In Drosophila, homeotic genes are clustered into two chromosomally separate groups, the antennapedia and bithorax complexes, in which each cluster contains several independently functioning homeotic genes. Each of these homeotic genes contains a nucleotide sequence (homeobox) coding for a DNA-binding polypeptide (homeodomain) involved in embryonic development along the animal's anterior-posterior axis. Homologous homeobox sequences are found throughout rnetazoan phyla, and the chromosomal organization of their horneobox-containing genes often follows the linkage order noted in Drosophila. The overall conservation of homeobox sequences, of the genes containing them, and of their linkage orders, indicate common developmental functions in different phyla preserved for many hundreds of millions of years, extending back to Precambrian times.
A member of the family Hominidae, which includes humans, whose earliest fossils can now be dated to about 4 million years ago (genus Australopithecus). Only a single hominid species (Homo sapiens) presently exists.
The sex that produces only one kind of gamete for sex determination in offspring, thus causing sex differences among offspring to depend on the kind of gamete contributed by the heterogametic sex. The homogametic sex is the female in mammals and the male in birds. (See also Sex chromosomes.)
A common use of this term is to characterize the similarity of biological features in different species or groups because of their descent from a common ancestor. Homologous features may include those found in development, structure, and morphology, although similarity on the genetic level probably provides a more reliable estimate of common descent. Since such conservative features can sometimes be quantified, especially for amino acid sequences in protein or base sequences in nucleic acids, homology has also been defined as the extent to which two species share an ancestral character (that is, homology = degree of ancestral similarity), and the value obtained can then be used to help establish phylogenetic relationships among species. (See also Coalescence.) Thus, if species A and B are homologous for 70 percent of a particular ancestral protein whereas they share only 40 percent homology with species C, the assumption can be made that species A and B are more closely related to each other for this protein (have a more recent common ancestor) than to species C. We should keep in mind that homologous genes do not necessarily produce the same features, since an ancestral gene may be recruited for different functions in different lineages. Also, as is obvious from convergence phenomena, functional, morphological, and developmental similarities can be produced by nonhomologous genetic elements of independent evolutionary origin. Emphasis on genetic homology can lead to a different, yet more realistic, phylogeny than the use of other features. Among other definitions are those that consider homology strictly qualitatively—for example, two structures in different species are or are not homologous (derived from a common ancestor)—and omit any quantitative comparative considerations as to the degree of homology.
A ratio [(speed of galactic recession)/(distance from earth)] that indicates the rate at which the universe is expanding. Although many astronomers agree on the speed of galactic recession as determined by the red shift (See Doppler effect), they still debate galactic distance from earth, which is based on the brightnesses of celestial bodies. Estimates of the Hubble constant have ranged from about 50, signifying an age for the universe of about 15 billion years, to as much as 100, indicating a more rapid expansion, and therefore a younger age of about 7 or 8 billion years. Some newer distance measurements, using the brightnesses of supernovae, indicate a Hubble constant of 55 to 65, or a universe about 12 billion-years old—a value more in accord with age estimates of the oldest stars.
The pressure exerted by a liquid. When the liquid is in an elastic, muscularly controlled container (for example, the coelom of a worm), changes in shape of the container can be effected by muscularly generated hydrostatic pressure.
The effect of soot and pollution in industrial areas in increasing the frequency of darkly pigmented (melanic) forms perhaps because of selection by predators against nonpigmented or lightly pigmented forms.
The concept used by Lamarck to explain evolutionary adaptations—that phenotypic characters acquired by interaction with the environment during the lifetime of an individual are transmitted to its offspring.
An aberration in which a section of DNA or chromosome has been inverted 180 degrees, so that the sequence of nucleotides or genes within the inversion is now reversed with respect to its original order in the DNA or chromosome.
Biological mechanisms that act as barriers to gene exchange between populations. These are generally divided into two groups: premating isolating mechanisms that inhibit cross-fertilization (for example, behavioral differences in courtship) and postmating isolating mechanisms that interfere with the success of the gamete or zygote even when cross-fertilization has occurred (for example, hybrid inviability or sterility).
One of several forms of an element, with a distinctive mass based on the number of neutrons in the atomic nucleus. (The number of protons and electrons is the same in different isotopes of an element.) Radioactive isotopes decay at a rate that is constant for each isotope and release ionizing radiation as they decay. (See Half-life, Radioactive dating.)
The highest inclusive category of taxonomic classification. Each kingdom includes phyla or subkingdoms. The most common presently used classification system proposes five kingdoms: Monera (prokaryotes). Protista, Fungi, Animalia, and Plantae, although some authors emphasize a tripartite division of organisms—Archaea, Bacteria, Eucarya (See Domain).
Quadrupedal gait of chimpanzees and gorillas, performed by curling the fingers toward the palm of the hand and using the backs (dorsal surfaces) of the knuckles to support the weight of the front part of the body.
The cyclic series of reactions in the mitochondrion in which pyruvate is degraded to carbon dioxide and hydrogen protons and electrons. The latter are then passed into the oxidative phosphorylation pathway to generate ATP.
A concept based on Aristotle's view (the Scale of Nature) that nature can be represented as a succession of stages or ranks that leads from inanimate matter through plants, lower animals, higher animals, and finally to the level of humans. (See also Great Chain of Being.)
A structured system of communication among individuals using vocal, visual, or tactile signs to describe thoughts, feelings, concepts, and observations. Rather than communication, some writers emphasize the representational nature of language, defining it as a symbolic system used to store and retrieve information about experiences and concepts.
An allele whose effect prevents its carrier from reaching sexual maturity when present in homozygous condition for a recessive lethal or in either heterozygous or homozygous condition for a dominant lethal.
The series of stages that takes place between the formation of zygotes in one generation of a species and the formation of zygotes in the next generation. (Also life history: the series of stages experienced by an individual of a species, from birth to death.)
The attainment of genotypic frequencies in a population that indicates that recombination between two or more gene loci has reached the point at which their alleles are now found in random genotypic combinations. For example, when an allele at one locus (for example, A1) and an allele at another locus (for example, B1) are found in combination at a frequency (fA1B1) equal to the product of their individual frequencies (fA1 X fB1).
A concept that attempts to explain the origin of a new species or an even higher taxonomic category by a single large mutation rather than by selection acting on many mutations. Although most geneticists agree that mutations can produce major as well as minor developmental changes, no single mutation is yet known that can cause an instantaneous speciation event, probably because such a sudden large radical change would dislocate normal genetic and developmental processes.
The eukaryotic cell division process used in producing haploidgametes (animals) or spores (plants) from a diploid cell. Meiosis is characterized by a reduction division that ensures that each gamete or spore contains one representative of each pair of chromosomes in the parental cell.
The middle era of the Phanerozoic eon, covering the approximately 180-million-year interval between the Paleozoic (ending about 245 million years ago) and Cenozoic (beginning about 65 million years ago). It is marked by the origin of mammals in the earliest period of the era (Triassic), the dominance of dinosaurs throughout the last two periods of the era (Jurassic and Cretaceous), and the origin of angiosperms.
Evolutionary changes of the kinds usually responsible for causing differences between populations of a species (for example, gene frequency changes and chromosornal variations). Many evolutionists suggest that accumulations of such changes over time are sufficient to explain the origin of most or all taxa.
Tandem repeats of short di-, tri-, and tetra- nucleotide sequences such as cytosine-adenine-cytosine-adenine-cytosine-adenine, and so on. Such loci are abundant (humans are estimated to possess at least 35,000 loci for repeats of the C-A sequence) and mutate (change in sequence number) at a relatively high rate.
Microscopic membrane-bound spheres formed when proteinoids are boiled in water and allowed to cool. Some cell-like properties, such as osmosis, growth in size, and selective absorption of chemicals, have been ascribed to them.
The transfer of genes from one population into another by interbreeding (gene flow). (Also used to indicate movement of a population to a different geographical area or its periodic passage from one region to another.)
The failure of homologous chromosomes (or sister chromatids) to separate ("disjoin") from each other during one of the two meiotic anaphase stages and go to opposite poles. Because of nondisjunction, one daughter cell will receive both homologues (or sister chromatids) and the other daughter cell will receive none, leading to an increase or decrease, respectively, in chromosome number.
A statistical method for classifying organisms by comparing them on the basis of measurable phenotypic characters and giving each character equal weight. The degree of overall similarity between individuals or groups is then calculated, and a decision is made as to their classification. (See Phenetic.)
A cluster of coordinately regulated structural genes. In prokaryotes and in a few eukaryotes, this cluster is transcribed as a unit into a single long ("polycistronic") messenger RNA molecule which is then translated into a sequence of individual gene products that often function together.
The concept that evolution of a group of related species proceeds in a particular direction (for example, an increase in size) because of unknown internal or vitalistic causes rather than because of nonmystical factors such as selection.
Instances when the phenotypic expression of a heterozygote (for example, A1A2) is more extreme than that of either hornozygote (for example, A1A1 or A2A2) Overdominance has been considered a cause for hybrid vigor. (See Heterosis.)
Reactions in which electrons are transferred from one atom or molecule (the reducing agent that is oxidized by the loss of electrons) to another (the oxidizing agent that is reduced by the gain of electrons). For example, we can diagram an atom or molecule as A or B, each carrying a proton (p+) and an electron (e-), as follows:
The incorporation of adult sexual features into immature developmental stages. Causes for such effects are changes in developmental speed of sexual tissues relative to nonsexual tissues (See Heterochrony), In progenesis, sexual development is so rapid that the sexually mature form may remain quite small in size. In neoteny, sexual maturation proceeds normally but somatic development slows down, producing a full-sized sexual adult with juvenile appearance. A classic neotenous form is the Mexican axoloti, an amphibian salamander that can retain its gills in tadpole form even when sexually mature.
The magnetic fields of ferrous (iron- containing) materials in ancient rocks. Among other applications, paleomagnetism provides information on the position oflandmasses and continents relative to the earth's magnetic poles at the time that the rocks were formed and thus can be used to describe the historical movement of continents relative to each other (continental drift).
The concept of heredity, held by Darwin and others, that small, particulate "gemmules," or "pangenes," are produced by each of the various tissues of an organism and sent to the gonads where they are incorporated into gametes. The increase or decrease of specific gemmules during the use or disuse of organs was proposed in order to explain the Lamarckian concept of inheritance of acquired characters.
An association between species in which individuals of one species (the parasite) obtain their nutrients by living on or in the tissues of another species (the host), often with harmful effects to the host.
Development of an individual from an egg that has not been fertilized by a male gamete. Diploid eggs may arise during the meiotic process— called by some, automictic parthenogenesis—when the number of chromosomes in the maternal oocyte doubles, or when two of the four haploid meiotic products unite. By combining identical homologous chromosomes in a single egg nucleus, automixis can produce homozygotes for all chromosomal loci. Parthenogenesis may also occur in the absence of meiosis, when eggs are produced rnitotically—called by some, apomictic parthenogenesis. In apomixis, a parent—whether homozygous or heterozygous—transmits its own genotype to its offspring.
Instances where two different alleles of a gene in a heterozygote (for example, A1A2) produce a phenotypic effect intermediate between the effects produced by the two homozygotes (for example, A1A1, A2A2).
An organic molecule composed of a sequence of amino acidscovalently linked by peptide bonds (a bond formed between the amino group of one amino acid and the carboxyl group of another through the elimination of a water molecule).
A major subdivision of an era of geological time distinguished by a particular system of rocks and associated fossils. The Cretaceous period is named after the abundance of chalk (Latin, creta), and the Carboniferous period for the abundance of coal (Latin, carbo), in their component rock systems.
The characters that constitute the structural and functional properties of an organism. Phenotypic features result from interaction between the genotype, which provides developmental information, and the environment, which provides developmental facilities.
[The negative logarithm of the hydrogen ion (H+) concentration in an aqueous solution.] A scale used for measuring acidity (pH less than 7) and alkalinity (pH greater than 7), given that pure water has a neutral pH of 7.
Evolutionary changes within a single nonbranching lineage. Although new species are produced by this lineage over time (chronospecies) there is no increase in the number of species existing at any one time. (See also Anagenesis.)
The evolutionary history of a species or group of species in terms of their derivations and connections. A phylogenetic tree is a schematic diagram designed to represent that evolution—ideally, a portrait of genetic relationships.
A proposed stage in embryonic development that characterizes some basic features in the body plan of a phylum (for example, see Fig. 3-10). Further evolved taxa in a lineage can then use this stage as a foundation for developing their own unique derived features.
A mammalian organ formed by union between the female uterine lining and embryonic membranes that provides nutrition to the embryo, allows exchange of gases, and aids elimination of embryonic waste products.
Mammals of the infraclass Eutheria, possessing, among other features, a reproductive process that uses a placenta to nourish their young until a relatively advanced stage of development compared to other mammalian groups (monotremes and marsupials).
The concept that the earth's crust is divided into a number of fairly rigid plates, whose movements (tectonics) relative to each other are responsible for continental drift and many crustal features. (See also Tectonic plates.)
A major division of the geological time scale that includes all eras from the origin of the earth about 4.5 billion years ago to the beginning of the Phanerozoic eon, about 545 million years ago. The Precambrian (also known as the Cryptozoic) is marked biologically by the appearance of prokaryotes about 3.5 billion years ago and small, nonskeletonized multicellular organisms in the Ediacarian period about 50 or 60 million years before the Phanerozoic.
A population or group of populations in a species that share a geographically and/or ecologically identifiable origin and have unique gene frequencies and phenotypic characters that distinguish them from other races. Because of the large amount of genetic and phenotypic variability in most species, the number of racial distinctions that can be made is often arbitrary. (See also Subspecies.)
A mixture of two kinds of molecules whose structures are similar but differ in that they are mirror images of each other (one kind cannot be superimposed on the other). Each of the two molecular forms rotates the plane of polarized light in a particular direction, but the racemic mixture is optically inactive.
The dating of rocks by measuring the proportions of a radioactive element in an igneous intrusion and the isotopes produced by its radioactive decay. Since the rate at which a particular radioactive element decays is constant, these proportions provide an estimate of the age of the rock, which can often be confirmed by dating with other radioactive elements.
A chromosomal exchange process (See Crossovers) that produces offspring that have gene combinations different from those of their parents. (Also used by some authors to describe the results of independent assortment.)
The view that adaptive evolution in one species of a community causes a deterioration of the environment of other species. As a consequence, each species must evolve as fast as it can in order "to stay in the same place" (to survive).
The concept that explanations for events at one level of complexity can or should be reduced to explanations at a more basic level. For example, that all biological events should be explained in the form of chemical reactions.
Differences between individuals in the size of DNA fragments for a particular DNA section cut by restriction enzymes. These are inherited in mendelian fashion, and furnish a basis for estimating genetic variation. They also provide linkage markers used to track mutant genes between generations.
A composite of all the forces that cause differential survival and differential reproduction among genetic variants. When the selective agencies are primarily those of human choice, the process is called artificial selection; when the selective agencies are not those of human choice, it is called natural selection. (See also Adaptive value, Fitness.) Although evolutionary biologists recognize other factors that contribute to genetic change, and therefore to evolution (for example, Mutation, Random genetic drift), selection remains the most commonly accepted cause to account for organismic adaptive features. However, selection does not have the foresight nor can development supply the means to enable a single population to face every eventuality. That is, although selection is a cause for evolutionary change, the amount and direction of change is limited by an organism's past history. The regularity of extinction, embracing many lineages and practically all fossil species, indicates such limitations. That evolution proceeds continuously in the face of successive environmental contingencies is because selection is exercised in different populations, some of which possess adaptations that replace other populations which lack them. Among other "adaptive" hypotheses that have generally been rejected are unknown or mystical causes believed to guide evolutionary changes in non-selective yet adaptive directions, such as directed mutation, directed responses to environmental needs (Lamarckianism), orthogenesis, and saltation.
The concept that the persistence of DNA sequences with no discernible cellular function (for example, various DNA sequences) arises from the likelihood that, once present in the genome, they are impossible to remove without the death of the organism—that is, they act as "selfish," or "junk" DNA, which the cell has no choice but to replicate along with functional DNA.
Similarities between parts of the same organism, such as the vertebrae of a vertebrate or the different kinds of hemoglobin molecules produced by a mammal. The genetic basis for such homology can often be ascribed to geneduplications that have diverged over time but still produce somewhat similar effects. (See Gene family, Paralogous genes.)
Selection that acts directly on mating success through direct competition between members of one sex for mates (intrasexual selection), or through choices made between them by the opposite sex (epigamic selection), or through a combination of both selective modes. In any of these cases, sexual selection may cause exaggerated phenotypes to appear in the sex on which it is acting (large antlers, striking colors, and so on).
A term used commonly in cladistic systematics to designate the most closely related group to a particular taxon. It derives from the concept that each significant evolutionary step marks a dichotomous split that produces two sister taxa equal to each other in rank.
The concept that social and cultural differences in human societies (political, economic, military, religious, and so on) arise through processes of natural selection, similar to those that account for biological differences among populations and species.
A basic taxonomic category for which there are various definitions. Among these are an interbreeding or potentially interbreeding group of populations reproductively isolated from other groups (the biological species concept) and a lineage evolving separately from others with its own unitary evolutionary role and tendencies (Simpson's evolutionary species concept). Employing the terms of population genetics, some definitions can be combined into the concept that a species is a population of individuals bearing distinctive genes and gene frequencies, separated from other species by biological barriers preventing gene exchange.
A taxonomic subdivision of a species often distinguished by special phenotypic characters and by its origin or localization in a given geographical region. Like other species subdivisions (See Race), a subspecies can still interbreed successfully with the remainder of the species. However, in some cases, interbreeding capabilities are unknown, and subspecies designations (for example, Homo sapiens neanderthalensis and Homo sapiens sapiens) are based entirely on phenotype.
Although defined by Simpson as the study of the diversity of organisms and all their comparative and evolutionary relationships, it is often used interchangeably with the terms classification and taxonomy.
The fairly rigid plates composing the earth's crust whose boundaries are marked by earthquake belts and volcanic chains. In oceanic regions, accretions to these plates occur at midoceanic ridges (sea floor spreading), and they are subducted under other plates at the deep oceanic trenches. Continental masses ride on some of these plates, accounting for continental drift and such processes as the mountain building that occurs when these plates collide.
The concept that natural processes such as development or evolution are guided by their final stage (telos) or for some particular purpose. Various philosophers separate "external" from "internal" (or "immanent") teleology. The former term is used to indicate guidance of a process toward some specified end decided by an external mystical or sagacious source; for example, "the ultimate purpose why the world was created [by God] was for the benefit of man." Thus, in contrast to science, which proposes that cause precedes effect, external teleological cause (for example, supernatural "design") arises after an effect's function or purpose has been foreseen or visualized. In contrast, internal teleology is generally used to indicate the end point of a process that has an understandable materialistic basis that develops from the process itself; for example, "the reason plants engage in photosynthesis and animals seek food is for survival, and the ultimate purpose of survival is for reproductive success." Among other factors, the absence of external teleology in biological evolution differentiates it from cultural evolution, into which humans have introduced external teleology by consciously designing many of its features.
An order of synapsid mammal-like reptiles, composed mainly of fairly large herbivorous and carnivorous forms, which were dominant reptilian stocks during the Permian and Triassic periods. During the Triassic, some or many of these stocks were probably already endothermal, and one or more groups (cynodonts - "dog teeth") made the transition to smaller mammalian forms such as the morganucodontids.
Electromagnetic radiation at wavelengths between about 4 and 400 nanometers, shorter than visible light but longer than X-rays. It is absorbed by purine and pyrimidine ring structures and is therefore quite damaging to nucleic acid genetic material.
A concept used by Lamarck to explain evolution as resulting from the transmission of characters that became enhanced or diminished because of their use or disuse, respectively, during the life experience of individuals. (See also Lamarckian inheritance.)
The belief that the earth is only some thousands of years old and that the geology and geography of the modern earth can be explained in terms of a world-wide flood. The belief is based upon a literal interpretation of Genesis. (See also Creationism.)