In biology, an atavism is a modification of a biological structure whereby an ancestral genetic trait reappears after having been lost through evolutionary change in previous generations.Atavisms can occur in several ways; one of which is when genes for previously existing phenotypic features are preserved in DNA, and these become expressed through a mutation that either knocks out the overriding genes for the new traits or makes the old traits override the new one. A number of traits can vary as a result of shortening of the fetal development of a trait (neoteny) or by prolongation of the same. In such a case, a shift in the time a trait is allowed to develop before it is fixed can bring forth an ancestral phenotype. Atavisms are often seen as evidence of evolution.
In social sciences, atavism is the tendency of reversion. For example, people in the modern era reverting to the ways of thinking and acting of a former time. The word atavism is derived from the Latin atavus—a great-great-great-grandfather or, more generally, an ancestor.
Evolutionarily traits that have disappeared phenotypically do not necessarily disappear from an organism's DNA. The gene sequence often remains, but is inactive. Such an unused gene may remain in the genome for many generations.As long as the gene remains intact, a fault in the genetic control suppressing the gene can lead to it being expressed again. Sometimes, the expression of dormant genes can be induced by artificial stimulation.
Atavisms have been observed in humans, such as with infants born with vestigial tails (called a "coccygeal process", "coccygeal projection", or "caudal appendage").Atavism can also be seen in humans who possess large teeth, like those of other primates. In addition, a case of "snake heart", the presence of "coronary circulation and myocardial architecture [which resemble] those of the reptilian heart", has also been reported in medical literature. Atavism has also recently been induced in modern avian dinosaur (bird) foetuses to express dormant ancestral non-avian dinosaur features, including teeth.
Other examples of observed atavisms include:
Atavism is a term in Joseph Schumpeter's explanation of World War I in twentieth-century liberal Europe. He defends the liberal international relations theory that an international society built on commerce will avoid war because of war's destructiveness and comparative cost. His reason for World War I is termed "atavism", in which he asserts that senescent governments in Europe (those of the German Empire, Russian Empire, Ottoman Empire, and Austro-Hungarian Empire) pulled the liberal Europe into war, and that the liberal regimes of the other continental powers did not cause it. He used this idea to say that liberalism and commerce would continue to have a soothing effect in international relations, and that war would not arise between nations which are connected by commercial ties.
University of London professor Guy Standing has identified three distinct sub-groups of the precariat, one of which he refers to as "atavists", who long for what they see as a lost past.
During the interval between the acceptance of evolution in the mid-1800s and the rise of the modern understanding of genetics in the early 1900s, atavism was used to account for the reappearance in an individual of a trait after several generations of absence — often called a "throw-back".[ citation needed ] The idea that atavisms could be made to accumulate by selective breeding, or breeding back, led to breeds such as the Heck cattle.[ citation needed ] This had been bred from ancient landraces with selected primitive traits, in an attempt of "reviving" the aurochs, an extinct species of wild cattle.[ citation needed ] The same notions of atavisms were used by social Darwinists, who claimed that inferior races displayed atavistic traits, and represented more primitive traits than other races.[ citation needed ] Both atavism's and Ernst Haeckel's recapitulation theory are related to evolutionary progress, as development towards a greater complexity and a superior ability.[ citation needed ]
In addition, the concept of atavism as part of an individualistic explanation of the causes of criminal deviance was popularised by the Italian criminologist Cesare Lombroso in the 1870s.He attempted to identify physical characteristics common to criminals and labeled those he found as atavistic, 'throw-back' traits that determined 'primitive' criminal behavior. His statistical evidence and the closely related idea of eugenics have long since been abandoned by the scientific community, but the concept that physical traits may affect the likelihood of criminal or unethical behavior in a person still has some scientific support.
Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the expressions of genes that are passed on from parent to offspring during reproduction. Different characteristics tend to exist within any given population as a result of mutation, genetic recombination and other sources of genetic variation. Evolution occurs when evolutionary processes such as natural selection and genetic drift act on this variation, resulting in certain characteristics becoming more common or rare within a population. It is this process of evolution that has given rise to biodiversity at every level of biological organisation, including the levels of species, individual organisms and molecules.
Heredity, also called inheritance or biological inheritance, is the passing on of traits from parents to their offspring; either through asexual reproduction or sexual reproduction, the offspring cells or organisms acquire the genetic information of their parents. Through heredity, variations between individuals can accumulate and cause species to evolve by natural selection. The study of heredity in biology is genetics.
Microevolution is the change in allele frequencies that occurs over time within a population. This change is due to four different processes: mutation, selection, gene flow and genetic drift. This change happens over a relatively short amount of time compared to the changes termed macroevolution.
Convergent evolution is the independent evolution of similar features in species of different periods or epochs in time. Convergent evolution creates analogous structures that have similar form or function but were not present in the last common ancestor of those groups. The cladistic term for the same phenomenon is homoplasy. The recurrent evolution of flight is a classic example, as flying insects, birds, pterosaurs, and bats have independently evolved the useful capacity of flight. Functionally similar features that have arisen through convergent evolution are analogous, whereas homologous structures or traits have a common origin but can have dissimilar functions. Bird, bat, and pterosaur wings are analogous structures, but their forelimbs are homologous, sharing an ancestral state despite serving different functions.
Population genetics is a subfield of genetics that deals with genetic differences within and between populations, and is a part of evolutionary biology. Studies in this branch of biology examine such phenomena as adaptation, speciation, and population structure.
Phenylthiocarbamide (PTC), also known as phenylthiourea (PTU), is an organosulfur thiourea containing a phenyl ring.
Dollo's law of irreversibility, proposed in 1893 by Belgian paleontologist Louis Dollo states that, "an organism never returns exactly to a former state, even if it finds itself placed in conditions of existence identical to those in which it has previously lived ... it always keeps some trace of the intermediate stages through which it has passed."
In evolutionary biology, the Baldwin effect describes the effect of learned behavior on evolution. James Mark Baldwin and others suggested during the eclipse of Darwinism in the late 19th century that an organism's ability to learn new behaviours will affect its reproductive success and will therefore have an effect on the genetic makeup of its species through natural selection. Though this process appears similar to Lamarckism, that view proposes that living things inherited their parents' acquired characteristics. The Baldwin effect has been independently proposed several times, and today it is generally recognized as part of the modern synthesis.
The domestication of animals is the mutual relationship between animals and the humans who have influence on their care and reproduction. Charles Darwin recognized a small number of traits that made domesticated species different from their wild ancestors. He was also the first to recognize the difference between conscious selective breeding in which humans directly select for desirable traits, and unconscious selection where traits evolve as a by-product of natural selection or from selection on other traits. There is a genetic difference between domestic and wild populations. There is also a genetic difference between the domestication traits that researchers believe to have been essential at the early stages of domestication, and the improvement traits that have appeared since the split between wild and domestic populations. Domestication traits are generally fixed within all domesticates, and were selected during the initial episode of domestication of that animal or plant, whereas improvement traits are present only in a proportion of domesticates, though they may be fixed in individual breeds or regional populations.
Evidence of common descent of living organisms has been discovered by scientists researching in a variety of disciplines over many decades, demonstrating that all life on Earth comes from a single ancestor. This forms an important part of the evidence on which evolutionary theory rests, demonstrates that evolution does occur, and illustrates the processes that created Earth's biodiversity. It supports the modern evolutionary synthesis—the current scientific theory that explains how and why life changes over time. Evolutionary biologists document evidence of common descent, all the way back to the last universal common ancestor, by developing testable predictions, testing hypotheses, and constructing theories that illustrate and describe its causes.
Paleopolyploidy is the result of genome duplications which occurred at least several million years ago (MYA). Such an event could either double the genome of a single species (autopolyploidy) or combine those of two species (allopolyploidy). Because of functional redundancy, genes are rapidly silenced or lost from the duplicated genomes. Most paleopolyploids, through evolutionary time, have lost their polyploid status through a process called diploidization, and are currently considered diploids e.g. baker's yeast, Arabidopsis thaliana, and perhaps humans.
The Palaeodictyoptera are an extinct order of medium-sized to very large, primitive Palaeozoic paleopterous insects.
Dual inheritance theory (DIT), also known as gene–culture coevolution or biocultural evolution, was developed in the 1960s through early 1980s to explain how human behavior is a product of two different and interacting evolutionary processes: genetic evolution and cultural evolution. Genes and culture continually interact in a feedback loop, changes in genes can lead to changes in culture which can then influence genetic selection, and vice versa. One of the theory's central claims is that culture evolves partly through a Darwinian selection process, which dual inheritance theorists often describe by analogy to genetic evolution.
Human genetic variation is the genetic differences in and among populations. There may be multiple variants of any given gene in the human population (alleles), a situation called polymorphism.
Human evolutionary genetics studies how one human genome differs from another human genome, the evolutionary past that gave rise to the human genome, and its current effects. Differences between genomes have anthropological, medical, historical and forensic implications and applications. Genetic data can provide important insights into human evolution.
Mate choice is one of the primary mechanisms under which evolution can occur. It is characterized by a “selective response by animals to particular stimuli” which can be observed as behavior. In other words, before an animal engages with a potential mate, they first evaluate various aspects of that mate which are indicative of quality—such as the resources or phenotypes they have—and evaluate whether or not those particular trait(s) are somehow beneficial to them. The evaluation will then incur a response of some sort.
The antagonistic pleiotropy hypothesis was first proposed by George C. Williams in 1957 as an evolutionary explanation for senescence. Pleiotropy is the phenomenon where one gene controls for more than one phenotypic trait in an organism. Antagonistic pleiotropy is when one gene controls for more than one trait, where at least one of these traits is beneficial to the organism's fitness early on in life and at least one is detrimental to the organism's fitness later on due to a decline in the force of natural selection. The theme of G.C. William's idea about antagonistic pleiotropy was that if a gene caused both increased reproduction in early life and aging in later life, then senescence would be adaptive in evolution. For example, one study suggests that since follicular depletion in human females causes both more regular cycles in early life and loss of fertility later in life through menopause, it can be selected for by having its early benefits outweigh its late costs.
Genetic admixture is the presence of DNA in an individual from a distantly-related population or species, as a result of interbreeding between populations or species who have been reproductively isolated and genetically differentiated. Admixture results in the introduction of new genetic lineages into a population.
A ghost lineage is a hypothesized ancestor in a species lineage that has left no fossil evidence yet can be inferred to exist because of gaps in the fossil record or genomic evidence. The process of determining a ghost lineage relies on fossilized evidence before and after the hypothetical existence of the lineage and extrapolating relationships between organisms based on phylogenetic analysis. Ghost lineages assume unseen diversity in the fossil record and serve as predictions for what the fossil record could eventually yield; these hypotheses can be tested by unearthing new fossils or running phylogenetic analyses.
In biology, reciprocal causation arises when developing organisms are both products of evolution as well as causes of evolution. Formally, reciprocal causation exists when process A is a cause of process B and, subsequently, process B is a cause of process A, with this feedback potentially repeated. Some researchers, particularly advocates of the extended evolutionary synthesis, promote the view that causation in biological systems is inherently reciprocal.
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