Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Consequences and Evolution: The Cause That Works Backwards

The flamingo’s bill is a classic example of behavior leading evolution. Irresistible little crustaceans of the briny bays reinforced the probing of the flamingo’s predecessors, despite their originally clumsy beaks. Given enough time in this rewarding niche, genetically based structural changes in that beak followed. Darwin’s finches provide another famous example...The tables turned in these cases: once the ability to learn from consequences had evolved, it became an important driver of evolution. Different foraging styles for different food rewards in different habitats helped lead to different beaks. The behavior followed the consequences, and genetic change then followed the behavior—something even Darwin knew was possible. more

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