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Fruit flies have individuality?

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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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3 Replies to “Fruit flies have individuality?

  1. 1
    Andre says:

    From today, I solemnly swear that I’ll ask the individual fly before I swat it, how its day was.

  2. 2
    Axel says:

    If it’s an English fruit fly, Andre, you might address it in this way: ‘How’re you going Old Fruit’, before despatching it in a way that only you will know, concealing your swat behind your back; although it has to be said that fruit flies are not the sharpest critters. As far as I know ‘fruit’ has no sexual connotation in this greeting, so offence will be taken.

    If, on the other hand, the fruit fly is a native of the west country, ‘Flower’, is a mode of greeting it will be more familiar with; set him at ease before the ‘coup de grace’.

    The English (especially Londoners), including their cousins in Anglophone countries, descended from native English, have riotous imaginations where slang and colloquial parlance is concerned.

    It actually amounts to genius, most notably, imho, in the US, where the metaphors of slang can imply a whole hilarious narrative.

    The most humorous, unless you were properly brought up in a formally-religious home, tend to be subtly ribald. But one outstanding one, not of that variety is the expression, ‘Why she beat him like a red-headed stepchild!’

  3. 3
    ppolish says:

    ““If you hold genetics constant and the environment mostly constant, you still see a lot of variation,” de Bivort said.”

    Proving existence of Free Will using flies. Neat expirement.

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