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Definition of evolution

Tom Schneider toms at fcs260c2.ncifcrf.gov
Sat Nov 2 09:30:33 EST 1991

In article <1991Nov1.171612.4442 at gpu.utcs.utoronto.ca>
lamoran at gpu.utcs.utoronto.ca (L.A. Moran) writes:

>... I propose the following definition;
>      Biological evolution is the process of change in the genetic
>      makeup of a population.
>This definition is necessary and sufficient (IMHO).

Consider the molecules in a glass of water.  Over time they rearrange
themselves (if the water is not frozen).  This is similar to random mutation
and drift in a population.  So your definition includes changes which have no
phenotypic result at all.  Surely the rearrangements of molecules in a glass of
water are not an interesting kind of "evolution".  Why not simply call the
genetic changes 'mutations' and be precise about it?  Shouldn't the term
'evolution' be reserved for something more important?

  Tom Schneider
  National Cancer Institute
  Laboratory of Mathematical Biology
  Frederick, Maryland  21702-1201
  toms at ncifcrf.gov

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