Re: latent mutation

From: Ray Recchia (
Date: Tue 06 May 2003 - 01:14:48 GMT

  • Next message: "Re: latent mutation"

    Thanks for the effort Chris. Don't sweat it too much. I may try to look Wilson after I finish his book and I'll see if he has any examples

    Jake, I think the term "atavism" is fairly close to what I'm looking for, but it doesn't seem quite the same. Atavism would seem to cover the stage where the spotting mechanism disappears with point mutations but not the potentially quicker re-evolution of the spots again when the environmental condition for their selection re-appears.

    The book 'Darwin's Cathedral' by the way has more to do with cultural selection of religions. The idea for latent adaptation came when he was discussing guppy species differences in response to different types of predation. Because the differences in predation seem to me to be things that might fluctuate within the environment on a fairly frequent basis I thought something like a 'latent adaptation' might end up present within the species.

    At 05:48 PM 5/5/2003 -0700, you wrote:
    >aren't point mutations those undesirable things that "bad" dna have? heh. I
    >don't think that species would evolve to include point mutations since this
    >would mean screwing up all of their dna. think more. if a species is both
    >gray and spotted, when gray is good and spots are bad (since it wouldn't
    >un-evolve the spots hm?) won't it like, get killed? that's not good. read
    >selfish gene, by dawkins. best dna book out there.
    >always, sabrina

    I don't think you got it. I'll spell it out a bit more clearly

    Under environmental condition 1 a bland grey animal is better camouflaged.

    Environmental condition 2 arrives. Grey bland animals are no longer the best camouflage

    Over time our species slowly evolves the ability to appear with spots. Under environmental condition 2 spotted animals are better camouflaged.

    Environmental condition 1 returns. Now spots are no longer the best camouflage again.

    Instead of completely eliminating all the genes for spots, they are just disabled with point mutations that prevent the genes from expressing themselves and the species returns to its grey state.

    Environmental condition 2 returns. Now spotting can reappear much more quickly because instead of having to re-evolve the entire spotting mechanism only the disabling point mutations have to be reversed.

    I don't think this is something Dawkins discusses, although I see nothing in his ideas that would contradict the possibility of it happening. I did read 'The Selfish Gene' and I agree that it is quite a good book.

    Ray Recchia

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