by the Understanding Evolution team
Development is the process through which an embryo becomes an adult organism and eventually dies. Through development, an organism’s genotype is expressed as a phenotype, exposing genes to the action of natural selection.
Studies of development are important to evolutionary biology for several reasons. This area of research can help us understand topics like:
- How does studying an organism's development help us understand its evolutionary relationships?
- Does ontogeny recapitulate phylogeny? Why or why not?
- What is a developmental constraint?
- In what ways can evolutionary changes in the development of an organism affect its morphology?
- What are Hox genes, and what role do they play in evolution?