Dictionary of Human Evolution and Biology

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Natural Selection

Nonrandom process by which some individuals in a species who possess adaptive phenotypic traits have a higher net reproductive success than individuals without those traits. This can occur only for those adaptive traits that possess heritability, i.e. genotypes that contribute underlying adaptive genes disproportionately to successive generations as the result of differential fecundity, or, differential mortality or fertility by genotype. In a simpler form, this was the first mechanism proposed (by Charles Darwin, 1859) to account for evolution, in which forces in the environment select which individuals will leave the most offspring; still generally regarded as the principle nonteleological force in evolution. It is supported by the findings of modern genetics.

See transmutation.

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