The Long-Term Benefits of Self-Rejection

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Science  22 Oct 2010:
Vol. 330, Issue 6003, pp. 459-460
DOI: 10.1126/science.1198063

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Charles Darwin provided the key explanation for the striking adaptive fit of organisms to their environments; traits that confer a greater chance of survival and reproduction spread through populations by the process of evolution by natural selection. But natural selection has no foresight; only immediate advantages matter. So the same trait that confers higher fitness in the short term could also increase the chance that a species eventually becomes extinct, or decrease the chance that it will form new species. Conversely, another trait may enhance a species' ability to diversify, leading to more species with that trait.