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Randomness in Evolution$
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John Tyler Bonner

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780691157016

Published to Princeton Scholarship Online: October 2017

DOI: 10.23943/princeton/9780691157016.001.0001

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An Exception

An Exception

Where Small Organisms Suppress Randomness

(p.93) Chapter 5 An Exception
Randomness in Evolution

John Tyler Bonner

Princeton University Press

This chapter discusses how the sexual cycle varies in a general way depending on the size and complexity of organisms. Natural selection has burnished the sexual system so that in each generation the degree of variation in the offspring is optimal—not too little and not too much—which allows natural selection to take place and makes evolutionary progress possible. However, in many simpler, small organisms this sexual variation-control mechanism can be turned on and off: periods of sexual reproduction will be interspersed with periods of asexual reproduction. In larger forms (with some rare exceptions) only the sexual route is possible. And it is only in the sexual cycle through recombination that the all-important controlled variation that is so essential for evolutionary progress is produced.

Keywords:   sexual cycle, sex, asexual production, evolutionary biology, biological randomness, natural selection

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