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Question Regarding Evolution

  1. Feb 28, 2009 #1
    I know random gene mutations determine which animals will survive and which will die out in their environment.

    I have some questions though,

    What usually causes the gene mutations?

    Is it possible for the genes to "learn", if you will, to program an animal so it is better off suited for its environment or is it all just random?

    Does evolution give any answers as to why we (animals) reproduce and then die instead of living on forever like bacteria and cells?
  2. jcsd
  3. Feb 28, 2009 #2


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    Most mutations are just mistakes that occur during cell division.

    http://www.sciencemuseum.org.uk/on-line/lifecycle/82.asp [Broken]

    It is pretty much just random.
    Most mutations die out, but some convey an advantage.
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
  4. Feb 28, 2009 #3
    Thank you.
  5. Mar 1, 2009 #4
    Actually, it is probably more likely that most mutations have no effect and survive.
  6. Mar 1, 2009 #5
    Mutation is random, selection is not. Mutations will induce variation in a particular organism. Depending on the environmental circumstances, certain variations will be preferentially selected for or against. These variations produce more or less offspring, and the corresponding genetic information will be amplified or restricted in that population.

    Not even bacteria or cells live on forever. Genes do. Genes build their host organisms to produce more copies of the genes, even to the detriment of the individual organism. Although individuals die, the original replicators have been around for billions of years.
  7. Mar 1, 2009 #6
    If the Bohmian interpretation of QM is correct, would this not lead one to suspect that mutation is not random? Or is this apples and oranges?
  8. Mar 2, 2009 #7


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    Pretty much apples and oranges. The random shunts and bumps of molecules (not least biological macromolecules) are so far removed from the quantum domain that the quantum variety of uncertainty doesn't play into it directly. It's essentially random anyway due to the sheer amount of molecules, collisions, and chaos.

    So whether or not it's 'truly' random boils down to the philosophical question of determinism.
  9. Mar 3, 2009 #8
    I just ran across this article http://www.bio-itworld.com/news/02/05/09/lander-advances-genome-sequencing-AGBT.html" [Broken] that I found quite interesting. The talk (at the AGBT conference), was mainly about advancements in sequencing technology, but he brushed over a few discoveries being made with the help of these advancements.

    These are the regions of the genome that were previously thought of as "junk" DNA (at least when I was going to high school).

    IMHO as we learn and discover more and more about the intricate details of epigenetics, gene regulation and expression patterns as it relates to development and the production of gametes, we may come to realize that the process is far more complex than previously thought.

    Who knows, maybe we will even revisit some Lamarckian principles?
    :uhh:shame on me! (<--slaps himself on the wrist)
    Last edited by a moderator: May 4, 2017
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