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Ancestral Developmental Potential Facilitates Parallel Evolution in Ants

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Science  06 Jan 2012:
Vol. 335, Issue 6064, pp. 79-82
DOI: 10.1126/science.1211451

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Supersoldier Throwbacks

Anomalous traits reflecting those of an ancestor sporadically appear in individuals that normally should not have them. Through their work with the hyperdiverse ant genus Pheidole, Rajakumar et al. (p. 79) suggest that these anomalies represent raw materials for selection to act upon. The ants possess an ancestral developmental potential, to produce “supersoldiers,” that has been retained for over 30 million years for which recurrent induction has facilitated the adaptive and parallel evolution of supersoldiers.

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