Big evolutionary change tied to lots of small differences

Enlarge / An example of a Littorina species, the common periwinkle.Bjoern Wylezich

The version of evolution proposed by Charles Darwin focused on slow, incremental changes that only gradually build into the sort of differences that separate species. But that doesn’t rule out the potential for sudden, dramatic changes. Indeed, some differences make it difficult to understand what a transitional state would look like, suggesting that a major leap might be needed.

A new study looks at one major transition: the shift from egg-laying to live births in a set of related snail species. By sequencing the genomes of multiple snails,

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