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Nature8 May 2003

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Evolution: Storm of the eye

'Explain the eye' is the classic challenge to evolutionary theory. A challenge answered on many occasions since Darwin's time in terms of the stepwise accumulation of small changes leading to an apparently complex organ. An alternative approach to the problem uses digital organisms — computer programs that self-replicate, mutate and evolve. Running in the Avida software platform (http://dllab.caltech.edu/avida/), populations of digital organisms often evolve the ability to perform complex logic operations requiring coordinated execution of many genomic instructions. Complex functions originate by random mutation and natural selection. In some cases even mutations that were deleterious when they first appeared served as stepping stones in the evolution of complex features.

article
The evolutionary origin of complex features
RICHARD E. LENSKI, CHARLES OFRIA, ROBERT T. PENNOCK & CHRISTOPH ADAMI
Nature 423, 139–144 (2003); doi:10.1038/nature01568
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8 May 2003 table of contents

  
  © 2003 Nature Publishing Group