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Q & A: path of evolution

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Most recent answer: 09/17/2012
Q:
Assuming that we evolved from a single organism and we weren't created by an unearthly being. What would the path of evolution be?
- Drew (age 16)
Singapore,Singapore,Singapore
A:
Overall, this is beyond the scope of our site. We can recommend a nice other site that traces  quite a bit of the paths of evolution in the form of a tree of life.


At some points, the picture doesn't fit a simple tree. For example, when mitochondria joined up with other cells cells of mixed ancestry resulted. We're made of cells like that, and our mitochondrial DNA has a different history than the rest of our DNA.

Very early in evolutionary history it seems likely that mixing like that ("horizontal gene transfer") was more the rule than the exception, so it may not be quite right to say we evolved from a single organism. When there's lots of that horizontal gene transfer going on, it's not clear what constitutes a separate organism.

Mike W.

(published on 09/17/2012)

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