Related topics: genome

Darwin's giant daisies help researchers understand evolution

Naturalists Alfred Russel Wallace and Charles Darwin both presented the theory of evolution at the same time in 1858. They thus changed both the course of biology and how we understand the natural world around us.

Whales' eyes offer glimpse into their evolution from land to sea

University of Toronto researchers have shed light on the evolutionary transition of whales' early ancestors from on-shore living to deep-sea foraging, suggesting that these ancestors had visual systems that could quickly ...

Studying primates to learn about the evolution of speech

Speech and language skills are unique to modern humans. While this ability evolved over millions of years, it is not possible to trace language in the fossil record because it leaves no direct imprint. Instead, re-examining ...

Important genetic origin of our senses identified

Having a head is quite an advantage. Although this may sound banal, it had to be tested in a long evolutionary process: As animal life developed, invertebrates initially dominated the oceans. These had already developed head ...

The Marquesas Islands: Window into a lost world

Polynesian explorers discovered a treasure trove of unique plants and animals when they arrived in the Marquesas Islands of French Polynesia, according to new research.

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Common descent

A group of organisms is said to have common descent if they have a common ancestor. In modern biology, it is generally accepted that all living organisms on Earth are descended from a common ancestor or ancestral gene pool.

A theory of universal common descent via an evolutionary process was proposed by Charles Darwin in his book On the Origin of Species (1859), and later in The Descent of Man (1871). This theory is now generally accepted by biologists, and the last universal common ancestor (LUCA or LUA), that is, the most recent common ancestor of all currently living organisms, is believed to have appeared about 3.9 billion years ago. The theory of a common ancestor between all organisms is one of the principles of evolution, although for single cell organisms and viruses, single phylogeny is disputed (see: origin of life).

In his book The Ancestor's Tale, Richard Dawkins uses the word concestor as a substitute for "common ancestor." This new word is very gradually entering scientific parlance.

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