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What is mosaic evolution?

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Mosaic evolution occurs when the gene alleles of an organism or species evolve at different rates. Marks of mosaic evolution include the development of features within a species or organism at different times.

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This type of evolution suggests that there are overall patterns between and within species. Scientists believe that the occurrence is most likely in organisms of varying development. A famous example of mosaic evolution in the fossil record includes primate predecessors to humans that had a skull resembling that of Homo sapiens and facial structure like an ape. Mosaic evolution is a part of macroevolution, and the idea was first developed by scientist Stephen Jay Gould. There is some debate about macroevolution within the scientific community regarding its application.

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