Long-term evolutionary changes take about 1 million years

Washington, Aug 23 (ANI): Scientists have discovered that although evolution is a constant and sometimes rapid process, the changes that hit and stick tend to take a long time, about one million years.

“Rapid evolution is clearly a reality over fairly short time periods, sometimes just a few generations,” said Josef Uyeda, lead author of the study and a zoologist at Oregon State University.

“But those rapid changes do not always persist and may be confined to small populations. For reasons that are not completely clear, the data show the long-term dynamics of evolution to be quite slow,” he stated.

Across a broad range of species, the research found that for a major change to persist and for changes to accumulate, it took about one million years.

“We believe that for changes to persist, the underlying force that caused them has to also persist and be widespread,” said Josef Uyeda, lead author of the study and a zoologist at Oregon State University.

“Evolutionary adaptations are caused by some force of natural selection such as environmental change, predation or anthropogenic disturbance, and these forces have to continue and become widespread for the change to persist and accumulate. That’s slower and more rare than one might think,” he explained.

Though slow, however, the process appears to be relentless.

Most species change so much that they rarely ever last more than 1-10 million years before going extinct, or developing into a new species, the scientists noted.

The findings were published this week in Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences. (ANI)

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