Check us out at http://www.tutorvista.com//videos Heredity is the passing of traits to offspring (from its parent or ancestors). This is the process by which an offspring cell or organism acquires or becomes predisposed to the characteristics of its parent cell or organism. Through heredity, variations exhibited by individuals can accumulate and cause a species to evolve. The study of heredity in biology is called genetics, which includes the field of epigenetics. Evolution is the change in the inherited traits of a population of organisms through successive generations. After a population splits into smaller groups, these groups evolve independently and may eventually diversify into new species. A nested hierarchy of anatomical and genetic similarities, geographical distribution of similar species and the fossil record indicate that all organisms are descended from a common ancestor through a long series of these divergent events, stretching back in a tree of life that has grown over the 3,500 million years of life on Earth To distinguish biological evolution from other senses of the term "evolution" used outside of the field of biology, such as cultural evolution, technological evolution and the evolution of language, it is sometimes referred to as genetic evolution or organic evolution Evolution is the product of two opposing forces: processes that constantly introduce variation in traits, and processes that make particular variants become more common or rare. A trait is a particular characteristic, such as eye color, height, or a behavior, that is expressed when an organism's genes interact with its environment. Genes vary within populations, so organisms show heritable differences (variation) in their traits. The main cause of variation is mutation, which changes the sequence of a gene. Altered genes, or alleles, are then inherited by offspring. There can sometimes also be transfer of genes between species. Two main processes cause variants to become more common or rare in a population. One is natural selection, which causes traits that aid survival and reproduction to become more common, and traits that hinder survival and reproduction to become more rare. Natural selection occurs because only a few individuals in each generation will survive, since resources are limited and organisms produce many more offspring than their environment can support. Over many generations, mutations produce successive, small, random changes in traits, which are then filtered by natural selection and the beneficial changes retained. This adjusts traits so they become suited to an organism's environment: these adjustments are called adaptations. Not every trait, however, is an adaptation. Another cause of evolution is genetic drift, an independent process that produces entirely random changes in how common traits are in a population. Genetic drift comes from the role that chance plays in whether a trait will be passed on to the next generation.
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