Anonymous asked in Science & MathematicsBiology · 5 months ago

In evolution do species on evolve to lose something rather than gain something?

Can humans evolve to breathe underwater given enough time? Would that require natural selection or genetic mutation, I am thinking no human in existence as ability to breathe underwater so it would have to be a genetic mutation which is usually random. So how would it happen?

9 Answers

  • Anonymous
    5 months ago
    Favorite Answer

    Evolution most often result in the modification of an existing structure, rather than the appearance of something totally new. For example, when birds evolved wings, they modified their forelimbs instead of evolving wings out of nothing. It is the same at the molecular level. An existing gene may be modified for new functions, instead of a new gene evolving out of nothing. Gene duplication, meaning evolving an extra copy of an existing gene, is important in evolution, because there is a working copy of a gene while an extra copy can mutate and acquite new functions.

    Duplication of body parts is not as easy. All amphibians, reptiles birds and mammals still have a maximum of only 4 limbs, the same number of the earliest tetrapods. In contrast, loss of limbs has happened many times. The giraffe also has the same number of neck vertebrae as most other mammals. So it evolved a long neck not by adding new bones, but by enlarging the bones. Nevertheless, duplication of body segments have happened before. Millipeds and centipeds have many body segments, and their ancestors almost certainly had fewer body segments. Snakes have a lot more ribs than most other vertebrates, certainly a lot more than their lizard ancestor. Therefore it is indeed possible for animals to duplicate existing structures.

    Humans cannot breathe underwater because our skin is waterproof, since it is covered by a layer of dead cells. Amphibians can breathe through their skin because they do not have a layer of dead cells on their skins. Parts of our throat used to be gill arches. According to Dollo's Principle, it is not possible for an animal to re-evolve a lost structure. That means after examing a lot of different animals, he has not found any example in which a species has re-evolved something that its ancestor had but that has been lost through evolution. That means snakes cannot evolve the legs they lost, and therefore humans, snakes, birds or any reptile will not be able to re-evolve the gills of their fish ancestor. To evolve gills, reptiles mammals and birds would need to modify another body part and change it into gills. Whether that can happen or not is up to chance and luck.

  • 5 months ago

    Whales and snakes lost their legs.

    Birds lost the ability to have fingers/paws/hands when they evolved wings.

    We lost our tails (the fused coccyx bone is our former tail).

    Lv 7
    5 months ago

    Bunch of rock people here today!...First of all..humans can breathe underwater before we are born...its not much of a stretch to say in a water world humans would adapt pretty quickly...probably just several tens of thousands years...2ndly...There are people who can almost breathe underwater...ever see stan lees superhumans? ...and they do say mutation is random and not a response to the enviroment.,,,so humans wont naturally evolve lungs to meet the enviroment...but eventually a human will be born with lungs and that human would have an advantage and reproduce

  • 5 months ago

    No terrestrial species has ever evolved to breathe underwater.

    Some fishes have evolved to breathe air: our Devonian ancestors of course, but also the modern mudskippers.

    But terrestrial animals returned to marine life don't breathe underwater, they hold their breath (whales, penguins, turtles...)

  • What do you think of the answers? You can sign in to give your opinion on the answer.
  • Cowboy
    Lv 6
    5 months ago

    Humans will never be able to live underwater. The way a species evolves limits the ways they CAN evolve - we're air breathing mammals - that's all we can ever be.

  • Anonymous
    5 months ago

    Fish rot or get eaten when they die. They don't turn into fossils.... yet there are fish fossils everywhere on the planet.

    Every fossil in the world was formed when minerals in mud permiated plant and animal tissue after being buried in gigantic tsunami waves during the world wide flood.

    The sediment and mud settled to the bottom and compressed, becoming the sedimentary layers we see everywhere today.

    Afterwards (about 100 years later), the lands were divided, and the people and animals were scattered, taking the stories of God, creation, the pre-flood world with them. That's why to date we have 230 stories about the flood, found in every culture around the world. Ref. Gen.10:25 and Gen. 11:8-9

  • 5 months ago

    It happens both ways: losing and gaining. But humans evolve to breathe underwater .. that is not going to happen. Evolution happens because of genetic changes that cause humans (or any other living thing) to have more or fewer grandchildren. Out of many billions of people, there are very very few drownings or near-drownings, and 99.999+% of them have nothing to do with genetic differences involving breathing underwater. Plain and simple, there just isn't any evolutionary pressure ( as in NONE, ZERO) in that direction.

    On the other hand, there is some (very mild and very low) evolutionary pressure to become better swimmers, or to avoid situations were you might drown. I think these are overcome by other things that makes people more stupid around water.

  • 5 months ago

    Nature can only select for features which already exist, so a new trait needs to arise by genetic change. Once it exists in living examples, it can then be found to not matter, or to be useful/helpful, or found harmful. Most evolution involves the "discovery" of a hidden benefit in a formerly neutral variation, and the unhiding of that benefit is caused by a change in conditions.

    There might actually be humans with a higher tolerance for water-flooding of the lungs that could, in some way, lead to progressive survival via extraction of oxygen directly from water, but I doubt it. No marine mammals have developed any such capability yet despite millions of years of opportunity.

    No existing human could spontaneously become tolerant of water-breathing, but it is possible that such capabilities could develop progressively over many generations.

  • Anonymous
    5 months ago

    Evolution is a very long and slow process. Yes, many species evolve to lose traits. Humans have many 'appendices' around the body, vestigial organs, the vest known of course, is the appendix, but it isn't the only one.

    Humans will most definately not evolve to breathe underwater, but all marine mammals are descendent from a terrestrial mammal species once.

    A lot of whale and dolphin etc specimens have very small (and now useless) hind leg bones. And they all have pentadactyl forelimbs, just like humans, apes and virtually all other mammals have in their forearms. Strong evidence for terrestrial ancestors.

    But of course, marine mammals are still air-breathers

Still have questions? Get answers by asking now.