From the very moment, as in 1859, CharlesDarwin published The Origin of Species through Natural Selection, 161 years passed. And although his fundamental work laid the foundation for evolutionary biology, one of Darwin’s main points was never proven. This, of course, was used by opponents of the theory of evolution as an argument in favor of the fact that Darwin was wrong. However, today, almost 140 years after the death of the scientist, Laura Van Holstein, a graduate student from Cambridge University, has found convincing evidence of Darwin's most important thesis that a species belonging to a larger genus should include more subspecies. The results of the study can be found on the pages of the scientific journal Proceedings of Royal Sciences.
Genus, species and subspecies - what is the difference?
In order to avoid confusion as to who is who, as you read the article, you should refresh the meaning of terms such as genus, species, and subspecies:
- Kind - This is a group of animals with similar characters, which may include several species. For example, most bears belong to the genus Ursus;
- View Is a group of similar animals that can interbreed and exchange genes with each other. Brown bear is a species of the genus Ursus;
- Subspecies Is a group within a species that phenotypically looks different from other species and propagates without intersecting with them. A grizzly bear is a subspecies of a brown bear.
Phenotype - the totality of all the properties and signs of the body.
According to CNN, Van Holstein believes thatThe results obtained are of great importance for evolutionary biology. Darwin predicted that larger species should also include more subspecies. However, the scientist did not specify the reasons why this happens. Darwin's followers, evolutionary scientists have suggested that the subspecies is an early stage in the formation of the species. But to prove it is difficult. In the end, evolutionary processes take a lot of time, and changes occur gradually. However, Van Holstein had something that everyone else did not have: data modeling software.
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The graduate student wanted to show that the number of subspecies inspecies correlates with the number of species in the genus. Having proved this, you can get even more evidence and assume that subspecies are the “raw material” for the emergence of new species. So, according to the results obtained during the study, the 550 millionth worm — the find of which we described in our special material — was indeed one of the first animals to move and make decisions.
How did Darwin's hypothesis prove?
To show that the genus with a lot ofspecies also has more subspecies, Van Holstein has developed a model using information about different species. Then she created models to identify the relationship between species wealth (the number of species per genus) and subspecies wealth, which is stronger in mammals that do not live on land, namely bats and whales. Another model soon discovered that the number of subspecies in the genus can be predicted. size of habitat - in terrestrial mammals, a larger habitat is associated with a large number of subspecies in the genus.
Area - part of the earth's surface or water area, which has the largest number of species or groups of animals or plants.
So Van Holstein not only provedone of Darwin’s hypotheses, but also expanded his conclusions: the more species in a genus, the more subspecies in it, and the relationship between species and subspecies depends on whether these species live on land. On land, speciation is dependent on the environment. But in species living in the air or ocean, speciation is more dependent on the dynamics of the population. This means that populations are constantly changing due to the need to adapt to changing environmental conditions.
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In the future, Van Holstein plans to use somethingthe same simulation to determine the rate of formation of species as endangered, and causing the least concern. The results, as a graduate student believes, can be used to predict which biological factors predispose certain species to extinction. We think Darwin would be very happy if he lived today.