Sunday, February 13, 2005
Spotting Evolution on the Wing
What is responsible for the evolution of forms and shapes of living organisms? Is this our genes or the DNA mechanisms which control where genes are used in the making of the animal's body? Scientists from the University of Wisconsin-Madison have found the answer by studying the various spots on the wings of a common fruit fly. In this article, they explain that molecular switches control where the pigmentation is deployed. Common genes are controlled to produce an endless array of patterns, decoration and body architecture found in animals. And it is almost certain that these molecular switches are at work in other animals, including humans.
What is even more fascinating is how it works. According to the researchers, evolution is a combination of chance and ecological necessity, which selects those things that are going to be kept. It means that animals' features are just accidents, but accidents that are preserved because they confer some kind of advantage. Read more for other details, references and a picture showing how fruit flies decorate their wings with a great diversity of spots and patterns.
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