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Evolution

<p>Evolution (also known as biological, genetic or organic evolution) is the change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms through successive generations. This change results from interactions between processes that introduce variation into a population, and other processes that remove it. As a result, variants with particular traits become more, or less, common. A trait is a particular characteristic—anatomical, biochemical or behavioural—that is the result of gene–environment interaction.</p><br />

<p>The main source of variation is mutation, which introduces genetic changes. These changes are heritable (can be passed on through reproduction), and may give rise to alternative traits in organisms. Another source of variation is genetic recombination, which shuffles the genes into new combinations which can result in organisms exhibiting different traits. Under certain circumstances, variation can also be increased by the transfer of genes between species, and by the extremely rare, but significant, wholesale incorporation of genomes through endosymbiosis.</p><br />

<p>Two main processes cause variants to become more common or rarer in a population. One is natural selection, through which traits that aid survival and reproduction become more common, while traits that hinder survival and reproduction become rarer. Natural selection occurs because only a small proportion of individuals in each generation will survive and reproduce, since resources are limited and organisms produce many more offspring than their environment can support. Over many generations, heritable variation in traits is filtered by natural selection and the beneficial changes are successively retained through differential survival and reproduction. This iterative process adjusts traits so they become better suited to an organism's environment: these adjustments are called adaptations.</p><br />

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