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In biology, evolution is the change in the characteristics of a species over several generations and relies on the process of natural selection.
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Not all mutations lead to evolution. Only hereditary mutations , which occur in egg or sperm cells, can be passed to future generations and potentially contribute to evolution.

Evolution - What Darwin Never Knew - NOVA Full Documentary HD

Also, many genetic changes have no impact on the function of a gene or protein and are not helpful or harmful. In addition, the environment in which a population of organisms lives is integral to the selection of traits.

Some differences introduced by mutations may help an organism survive in one setting but not in another—for example, resistance to a certain bacteria is only advantageous if that bacteria is found in a particular location and harms those who live there. So why do some harmful traits, like genetic diseases, persist in populations instead of being removed by natural selection? There are several possible explanations, but in many cases, the answer is not clear.

What is evolution?

For some conditions, such as the neurological condition Huntington disease , signs and symptoms do not occur until after a person has children, so the gene mutation can be passed on despite being harmful. For other harmful traits, a phenomenon called reduced penetrance , in which some individuals with a disease-associated mutation do not show signs and symptoms of the condition, can also allow harmful genetic variations to be passed to future generations.

Specific aspects of evolution are discussed in the articles coloration and mimicry. Applications of evolutionary theory to plant and animal breeding are discussed in the articles plant breeding and animal breeding. A detailed discussion of the life and thought of Charles Darwin is found in the article Darwin, Charles. Darwin and other 19th-century biologists found compelling evidence for biological evolution in the comparative study of living organisms, in their geographic distribution, and in the fossil remains of extinct organisms.

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The amount of information about evolutionary history stored in the DNA and proteins of living things is virtually unlimited; scientists can reconstruct any detail of the evolutionary history of life by investing sufficient time and laboratory resources. Evolutionists no longer are concerned with obtaining evidence to support the fact of evolution but rather are concerned with what sorts of knowledge can be obtained from different sources of evidence.

The following sections identify the most productive of these sources and illustrate the types of information they have provided.

Natural selection

Evolution scientific theory. Written By: Francisco Jose Ayala.

Evolution - Wikipedia

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Articles from Britannica Encyclopedias for elementary and high school students. Article Media. Table Of Contents.