How Evolution Works
DNA is the genetic makeup of our body and found in every known living organism. It is our blueprint, and determines exactly how we will grow, live, and look.
When a creature reproduces, the DNA may “mutate,” which means that it randomly changes slightly. Sometimes the change is extreme, but usually the change is very subtle and you will not notice any changes in the organism for many generations.
Over several generations of species, those most likely to survive and reproduce pass on DNA which continues to evolve. This process keeps life going and diversified in each environment & ecosystem.
Types of Mutations
There are three types of mutations: beneficial, neutral, and harmful.
Beneficial mutations are those genetic mutations that help a creature survive and/or reproduce better. For example wings helps birds stay high up from predators that may try to eat it.
A neutral mutation is a mutation that has no effect on the organism’s survival.
Harmful mutations are changes in DNA that do NOT help the organism survive and/or reproduce. If a creature receives a harmful mutation, it will be less likely to reproduce, so the DNA will likely not be passed on.
Beneficial mutations are more likely to be passed on, so bad DNA is always dying out and being replaced with better DNA.
Why Mutations Happen
Mutations are the reason for Earth’s diverse wildlife. Scientists believe that all life came from small micro-organisms such as bacteria, and it slowly evolved into higher consciousness & other creatures.
What started out as one bird could diversify into one hundred different species of birds over the course of a million years! Each bird could also be evolved for its own environment. For example, one bird might be better in the cold Northern climates, whereas another bird could be more suited for the hot desert.
Mutations guarantee lots of diversity and that life will bounce back in the case of disaster. For example a meteor wiped out all dinosaur wildlife, but just a few small animals survived which were all life needed to keep going.
These small creatures continued surviving, adapting, and reproducing to re-create life as we now know it.
Bacteria in Space
Bacteria have even been proven able to survive in space outside of the international space station! No matter how harsh the climate, bacteria are able to survive, and continue reproducing.
Bacteria will go “dormant,” which means they are basically “asleep” and not active in very hot/cold/tough environments. When they return to a nice environment (such as Earth), they are able to start reproducing and surviving again.
This is why scientists believe there must be life on another planet or even on a moon outside of Jupiter. Bacteria can survive quite a bit, and once in a new climate it will be able to begin evolving itself to fit the new environment.
This process is called “natural selection.” Natural selection is the process in which better DNA is more likely to be passed on that bad DNA.
Bad DNA which does not help an organism in an environment is less likely to be reproduced, and so it will likely die out and be replaced by the good DNA.
This process is usually very subtle and happens over the course of millions of years.
Natural selection is also the reason for certain creatures being better adapted for certain environments. Some animals have naturally evolved to survive in the desert, whereas others fare better in the Ocean.
Asexual vs. Sexual Reproduction
Bacteria can reproduce by simply splitting itself. DNA does not mutate that fast because the bacteria are only cutting itself into two.
After the micro-organism becomes more evolved, it will begin to produce sexually with a partner. Sexual reproduction involves a “male & female” such as us humans.
Mutations occur even more rapidly in sexual reproduction because the two creatures already have different DNA, which creates new combinations of DNA on top of potential mutations.
This process speeds up natural selection, and allows life to evolve itself to create better forms even faster! Scientists believe that through evolution humans have developed, and that we will continue to evolve to even better creatures.
We hope you enjoyed this read- let us know what you think. Thanks!
-Wildlife X Team International