The study of evolution is revealing new complexities, showing how the traits most beneficial to the fitness of individual plants and animals are not always the ones we see in nature. Instead, new research by behavioral scientists shows that in certain cases evolution works in the opposite direction, reversing individual improvements to benefit related members of the same group.
Wow. They are trying to revive the heresy of a group selection over against the selfish gene. It doesn’t matter whether this is true or not. It isn’t orthodox.
The research appears in the Journal of Evolutionary Biology, where lead author David Fisher shows that the increased evolution of selfless traits — such as sharing food and keeping watch for one another — is mathematically equivalent to the decreased evolution of individually beneficial traits.
“They’re two sides of the same coin,” Fisher explains. “On one side, traits evolve that benefit your
kin, but don’t benefit you, because you’re helping your siblings or cousins. On the other side, traits that benefit you but cost your neighboursdon’t evolve, because you’re causing damage to related individuals.”
The work is part of the ongoing effort to understand the paradox of altruistic
behaviourin the wild, explains Fisher, a research fellow in McMaster’s Department of Psychology, Neuroscience andBehaviour.
Fisher goes on to show that another way evolution can go
backwardsis through the evolution of an individual’s negative effects on neighboursand group members. For example, a fast-growing tree may take all the sunlight, water and nutrients out of the environment, causing its neighboursto grow slowly. In the next generation, more trees are fast-growing but are also nasty neighbours. As a result, negative social effects are much more prevalent, and so everyone’s growth is reduced.
“That means evolution has gone
backwards. Even though growing quickly is beneficial, because of these negative social effects, the population, on average, grows more slowly,” he says. Paper. (paywall) – David N. Fisher, Jonathan N. Pruitt. Opposite responses to selection and where to find them. Journal of Evolutionary Biology, 2019; DOI: 10.1111/jeb.13432 More.
Of course, they must see evolution as a benevolent deity instead of an impersonal one, if it can act to prevent a bad outcome, as described above. Well, if it’s an established religion, it’s an established religion.
See also: How bacteria use harpoons to speed horizontal gene transfer Well, if that’s a way bacteria evolve, what becomes of common descent and speciation? What do we mean by “bacterial species”?
Devolution: Getting back to the simple life
Could we all get together and evolve as a group?
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