From Quanta Magazine:
Genetically identical fruit flies raised under the same conditions are creating a biological map of what makes individuals unique.
For scientists studying individual variation, one of the biggest open questions is why it exists. Is it helpful or harmful to the individual and the population? “We still know very little about the fitness consequences,” said Julia Saltz, a biologist at Rice University in Houston.
Some versions of a gene might simply have bad quality control, pumping out a shoddy and inconsistent product. (Scientists refer to this as developmental instability and generally consider it harmful.) Alternatively, perhaps some variability makes for a stronger strain. “If you are more variable, a predator can’t guess what you are going to do next,” Saltz said.
This latter theory is dubbed “bet-hedging” because it resembles diversifying one’s portfolio to protect against risk. Biological bet-hedging provides a population with a range of behaviors, some of which might cope better with mercurial conditions. For example, a population of flies that can tolerate a range of temperatures is likely to be more successful than one that only prefers hot or cold. Mutations that inherently produce variability are more flexible than those that are hardwired to a specific trait. More.
Why not improve chances at understanding by dumping Darwinism and its “fitness” claims?
Half the problem might be trying to get answers to meaningless questions.
See also: How can we believe in naturalism if we have no choice?
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