Related topics: genome

Wrasses dazzle: How fairy wrasses got their flamboyant colours

With their exuberant colors, fiery personalities and captivating courtship displays, the fairy wrasses are one of the most beloved coral reef fish. Despite this, the evolutionary history of its genus was not well understood—until ...

How Earth's oddest mammal got to be so bizarre

Often considered the world's oddest mammal, Australia's beaver-like, duck-billed platypus exhibits an array of bizarre characteristics: it lays eggs instead of giving birth to live babies, sweats milk, has venomous spurs ...

Placing barthelonids in evolutionary context

New species of microbial life are continually being identified, but localizing them on a phylogenetic tree is a challenge. Now, researchers at the University of Tsukuba have pinpointed barthelonids, a genus of free-living ...

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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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