(Madison) UW researchers say a major discovery came from an animal no bigger than the head of a pin.
Genetics researchers used fruit flies to study evolution. They took a close look at the nuts and bolts of DNA to see how changes in a species become permanent.
For example, they say male fruit flies have dark spots, which they use to appeal to females during a courtship dance. The team studied how those accidental mutations improve the species chance of survival. Those mutations then get preserved over time in the genetic code.
Sean Carroll, a professor of genetics explains, "In general, we're gonna want to explore how what we have found applies really to whole animal kingdom. We're fairly confident that the fundamental mechanisms we've discovered do apply, but it'll be a burden on us to explore other model of evolution of interesting traits."
The journal "Nature" published the findings. A private foundation paid for the year and a half long project.