Question

Read the article on Darwin's Finches, then compose short essays to these following review questions:

1. From the point of view of development, how does the life cycle of a bacterium resemble the life cycle of an elephant? How does it differ?

2. If a trait is not well adapted to current local conditions, what might be the reasons why it is not, and how might one check to see which of those reasons is correct?

3. In many old texts and in some recent popular articles, sex is seen as necessary to provide the genetic variability that will keep species from going extinct when the environment changes significantly. What do you think of this explanation?

4. Do ideas, agricultural practices, or computers evolve in response to natural selection? What then corresponds to reproductive success and to inheritance? How does cultural change connect to biological evolution? Neither reproduction nor inheritance can be as precisely defined for cultural change as they can for biological evolution, but the analogy is worth exploring.

5. If we examine sexual versus asexual reproduction from an evolutionary standpoint, what is the difference? And along with this, what does it cost an organism to make an egg or sperm?

6. How are bacteria able to accomplish genetic variety?

7. What is bet-hedging in the life of a plant? Give an example of this concept.

8. Which type of population experiences stronger genetic drift?

Solution Preview

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1. From the point of view of development, how does the life cycle of a bacterium resemble the life cycle of an elephant? How does it differ?
The life cycle of a bacterium and an elephant are the same in the sense that each organism starts off as a single cell and changes over time to develop into the finished product. Both elephants and bacteria must have the ability to adapt to changes in their environment if they will be allowed to survive and not become extinct. The difference between the two organisms is that bacteria are much simpler in structure and complexity than elephants....

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