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Thread: Evolution- trait variability

  1. #1 Evolution- trait variability 
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    I was once told a trait that is highly variable is typically a trait that has recently evolved. However, I thought Darwin stated that traits are not immutable and that unfavourable traits will may become more variable and deteriorate over time. I used to work on the lateral line and electroreception in elasmobranchs, finding that the lateral line on the ventral surface of a species of Himantura was highly variable. All specimens displayed the same trait, but the extent to which the sensory organ covered (surface area) and the number of convolutions of the organ differed between individuals. This trait appears to be common to all Himantura species. The closest morphology of the ventral lateral line to Himantura is the genus Dasyatis. While they are similar, Himantura has notably developed multiple extensions of the lateral line, which has not been demonstrated in Dasyatis to date. I just waffled on a bit- sorry. So, my question is- does this high variability in the aforementioned trait mean this facet has recently evolved, ergo it may not yet be a "evolutionarily stable" trait. I apologize- I'm not an expert on evolution. I have been trawling the internet and evolution books for a couple of years trying to find the answer/reference.


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  3. #2  
    Forum Ph.D.
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    I'm not an expert in evolution either, but I would think an evolutionally unstable trait would be one that did not appear in all members of a closely related group. As in some breeds of dogs that have upright ears, but some members of the same litter may not have this trait. (Papillions) Melanism and albinism in mammals might be another example.


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