Instinct encoded in DNA?

  • #26
Pythagorean
Gold Member
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How about instincts such as an antelope fleeing if it senses a predator nearby.
There won't be a specific gene for that, but every antelope will do it, so it must be 'hardwired' in some sense.
There's lots of genes involved in organizational outcomes. Untangling learned vs. Innate behavior can be difficult. I think detecting and fleeing a predator is a learned trait, but it's likely made up of many inherited traits (like the startle reflex to get adrenaline going, and innate motor generation patterns that have been honed for running) that easily enabled the learned behavior.

Just to demonstrate how "dumb" the system is as a result of random genes working together, the detection system for doing this does so for a deer (and other "skittish" animals) by being "overly sensitive" (letting a lot of false positives through when identifying threat) If your intention was to feed a deer and pet it, it would still run away from you because its better to be safe when you dont have sharp teeth and claws and giant muscles ... whereas animals like wolves, who have a little more threat tolerance, where able to form an evolutionary relationship with man (in which dogs emerged).
 

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