Scientists generally believe that evolution is more like a random process rather than something they can predict. Once again, nature seems to contradict them, as a new study led by researchers of Yale University and Columbia University might lead to some textbooks getting rewritten.
The new research indicates that the Viburnum plant lineage was able to develop three similar leaf types on its own and in a repeated process in mountainous places. The discovery also indicates that scientists might be able to predict evolution.
Michael Donoghue, a Sterling Professor Emeritus of Ecology & Evolutionary Biology from Yale University, explained as SciTechDaily quotes:
The findings demonstrate how predictable evolution can actually be, with organismal development and natural selection combining to produce the same forms again and again under certain circumstances,
Maybe evolutionary biology can become much more of a predictive science than we ever imagined in the past.
Ericka Edwards, who is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology at Yale and also a co-corresponding author of the paper, explained, as the same source quotes:
This collaborative work, spanning decades, has revealed a wonderful new system to study evolutionary adaptation,
Now that we have established the pattern, our next challenges are to better understand the functional significance of these leaf types and the underlying genetic architecture that enables their repeated emergence.
There are plenty of interesting facts about evolution, at least when it comes to the one regarding our human nature. For instance, other sources tell us that the human body is full of evolutionary leftovers, that we’re not done evolving, and perhaps the most interesting one is this: we didn’t evolve from apes, contrary to what some people believe. Instead, the modern human species only shares a common ancestor with apes.
An international team of scientists participated in the new study as well, and the work was published in Nature Ecology & Evolution.