Sexual Selection and Darwin's Mystery of Mysteries

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Science  18 Dec 2009:
Vol. 326, Issue 5960, pp. 1639-1640
DOI: 10.1126/science.1184680

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Darwin referred to the origin of species as “that mystery of mysteries” (1), and despite decades of study, evolutionary biologists still cannot agree on the underlying processes that have produced the great diversity of life around us. Most contentious of all has been the question of whether speciation can occur within a population (sympatrically). On page 1704 of this issue, van Doorn et al. (2) suggest that mating preferences can halt the movement of genes within a population. Their work gives credibility to the concept of sympatric speciation, which has long been the ugly duckling of evolutionary biology, and suggests that both local adaptation and sexual selection may play a far more important role in speciation than previously thought.