Life in Newburgh on Ythan

By Talpa

Selection, natural and otherwise

Most of us are agreed, I think, that all living things have a common ancestor and that the enormous variety of species that we see today have come about through the selection of random genetic mutations.

Until recently the selection was entirely natural with the environment favouring those individuals who were best adapted to the prevailing conditions and who therefore left most surviving offspring. The "extra" offering shows one example of the wonders that such natural selection can produce; the exquisite feathers of a gull that allow it to fly.

Very recently, in terms of evolutionary time, man has invented a completely different sort of selection. We have the ability to choose the the mutations that we see and to control their breeding to produce an end product that we find useful, or which simply pleases us. We have an end product in mind when we do this, something that natural selection does not. The main photograph shows an example  of such controlled breeding. Both flowers are the same species, the Columbine Aquilegia vulgaris, but they are different cultivars produced by artificial selection. The one on the left  is a variety known as Nora Barlow, while the one on the right is called Mrs Scott Elliot. 

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