Navigation Links
Life, the remake

If the history of life were to play out again from the beginning, it would have a similar plot and outcomes, although with a different cast and timing, argues UC Davis paleontologist Geerat Vermeij in a new paper in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences.

"Evolution at this level, like the rest of history, is predictable, perhaps more predictable than people want to imagine," Vermeij said. "Many traits are so advantageous under so many circumstances that you are likely to see the same things again and again."

Vermeij's view contrasts with that put forward by the late Stephen Jay Gould and others, who argued that the history of life is so dependent on improbable events and includes so many possible paths that the chances of repetition are vanishingly small. Vermeij argues that some innovations, such as photosynthesis, plant seeds, mineralized bones and even human language are just such good ideas that they would reappear, although at different times and in somewhat different forms.

Barnacles, for example, "desperately want to be mollusks," Vermeij said, although they are actually crustaceans related to crabs and lobsters. As adults, they have evolved a lifestyle similar to that of clams, mussels and another entire group of animals, the brachiopods.

Vermeij reviewed 23 evolutionary innovations thought to be unique, including the genetic code, sex, human language and feathers, and another 55 that turn up repeatedly. Most of the unique innovations -- with the exception of human language -- are ancient, more than half a billion years old. Many of the repeated innovations are known only from a few specimens that were part of much larger groups. Vermeij said that many of life's "unique" developments might just appear to be so because other species died out and were not preserved as fossils.

A "unique" innovation might also be the result of intense natural selection. For example, once the genetic code appeared, primitive o rganisms readily swapped genes, as bacteria still do today. Any variants or competitors to the genetic code that arose later would have been unable to spread and establish.

Vermeij thinks that these principles are universal.

"If we had an Earth-like planet, I think we'd see phenotypes and outcomes that parallel those on Earth," he said.


Source:University of California - Davis

Related biology news :

1. Habitat use by North Pacific right whales, Eubalaena japonica, in the Bering Sea and Gulf of Alaska
2. Unchecked DNA replication drives earliest steps toward cancer
3. Climate change drives widespread amphibian extinctions
4. Mindless autopilot drives people to underestimate food decisions
5. Buildup of damaged DNA in cells drives aging
6. A genetic gang of 4 drives spread of breast cancer
7. Discovery of an American salamander where it shouldnt be: Korea
8. Elusive salamanders have role in developing new sampling models
9. Butterflies lose body fat during metamorphosis
Post Your Comments:

(Date:11/20/2015)... Connecticut , November 20, 2015 ... authentication company focused on the growing mobile commerce market ... CEO, Gino Pereira , was recently interviewed on ... interview will air on this weekend on Bloomberg ... Latin America . --> NXTD ) ("NXT-ID" ...
(Date:11/19/2015)... 2015  Based on its in-depth analysis of the ... with the 2015 Global Frost & Sullivan Award for ... presents this award to the company that has developed ... of the market it serves. The award recognizes the ... on customer base demands, the overall impact it has ...
(Date:11/19/2015)...  Although some 350 companies are actively involved in ... companies, according to Kalorama Information. These include Roche Diagnostics, Hologic, ... share of the 6.1 billion-dollar molecular testing market, according ... Molecular Diagnostic s .    ... by one company and only a handful of companies ...
Breaking Biology News(10 mins):
(Date:11/24/2015)... Mass. (PRWEB) , ... November 24, 2015 , ... ... to maintain healthy metabolism. But unless it is bound to proteins, copper is ... of Health (NIH), researchers at Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) will conduct a systematic ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... -- Clintrax Global, Inc., a worldwide provider of clinical research services headquartered ... the company has set a new quarterly earnings record in Q3 ... posted for Q3 of 2014 to Q3 of 2015.   ... , with the establishment of an Asia-Pacific ... United Kingdom and Mexico , with ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... , ... November 24, 2015 , ... The Academy of ... Interest Group (SIG), MultiGP, also known as Multirotor Grand Prix, to represent the First–Person ... few years. Many AMA members have embraced this type of racing and several new ...
(Date:11/24/2015)... TEL AVIV, Israel , Nov. 24, 2015  Tikcro Technologies Ltd. ... be held on December 29, 2015 at 11:00 a.m. Israel ... & Co., Electra Tower, 98 Yigal Allon Street, 36 th Floor, ... , election of Eric Paneth and Izhak Tamir ... and Rami Skaliter as external directors; , approval of an ...
Breaking Biology Technology: