Do Living Things Have an Adaptive Gene?

It’s as if the Covid-19 virus is stalking the vaccines becoming available and in self-defense is developing a number of mutations. Scientists say it is rather common for viruses to mutate, so perhaps it’s the attention being paid to this one that makes its changing seem so aggressive. There has long been concern about overuse of antibiotics lest nastier bacteria take over.

The evolution of life on Earth is continuous, but we commonly think of it as being very slow and due to random changes that happen to improve a species to an extent that the changed individual is more successful in reproducing. As a result, it becomes the dominant form. I’ve long had trouble with the total randomness of change. To me it seems too many coincidences. Numerous deep sea organisms can bioluminesce. For the ability to create light to have randomly occurred in so many species seems unlikely to me. A deep sea shark called a kitefin was recently found who could biolumenesce. Six feet long, it is the largest known bioluminescent organism.

Further, there are a number of examples of favorable evolution within lifetimes. I recall a case of fresh water fish adapting to salt water dumped into an inland lake by a tsunami. Dr. Dean Edell once described an area with many tall posts that birds claimed as their favorite places to park. This may be because both the birds and posts were white, which made them harder to spot by predator birds. As the posts weathered and turned darker, so did the birds. When the posts were repainted, the birds evolved back to white. The highlighted article describes more examples including viruses, bacteria, and resistance of pests and fish to pesticides as well as moths whose wings turned darker in dirty areas; stray dogs reverting to become more wolf-like; toads imported from Hawaii to Australia became more kangaroo-like, developing longer legs and hopping greater distances.

Some mutations not likely to continue:

I wonder if human thumbs will evolve to be longer and more agile because of the popularity of texting. Epigenetics is a fascinating subject of how genes can be turned off or on by diet or the environment and I suspect may someday explain rapid evolution.

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