Re: latent mutation

Date: Mon 05 May 2003 - 03:38:17 GMT

  • Next message: Chris Taylor: "Re: latent mutation"

    In a message dated 5/3/2003 8:36:33 AM Central Daylight Time, writes:

    I'm reading "Darwin's Cathedral" by David Sloan Wilson and I have a general evolution question. Suppose a species initially evolves under circumstances where there is an advantage to having a drab grey color to provide circumstances. Then suppose circumstances change so that spot provide more of an advantage. Over time the species evolves an elaborate biochemical mechanism for spots that allows the species to survive effectively in this new environment. Next suppose the environment changes back so that drab grey is now more effective. Organisms can go back to drab without unevolving the entire mechanism for spots. Instead they can just have point mutations that disable the spots. Then if the environment changes again so that spots are better, instead of re-evolving the whole spot system again, all that is necessary is that a few individuals lose the point mutations preventing spots from being expressed. This means that spots can reappear much more quickly the second time than they did the first time.

    So my question is, are there any real examples of this occurring in nature? Is there a term that is used to describe this phenomenon?

    [Jake] I haven't actually read this book, and I haven't been too active on this list in a while but this one caught my eye. I don't really know if there is a term for this whole process that you describe, but I do know that the word "atavism" covers at least some of what you describe, and here is one dictionary entry that I think comes closest: 1 a : recurrence in an organism of a trait or character typical of an ancestral form and usually due to genetic recombination

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