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The evolution of major novel traits – characteristics such as wings, flowers, horns or limbs – has long been known to play a key role in allowing organisms to exploit new opportunities in their surroundings. What’s still up for debate, though, is how these important augmentations come about from a genetic point of view.

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New research from an international team of evolutionary biologists, led by the University of Oxford, has used bacteria to show that acquiring duplicate copies of genes can provide a ‘template’ allowing organisms to develop new attributes from redundant copies of existing genes. (1)

In the beginning everything was useful.

Then useless things came to be.

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The world started to evolve.

Gradually all the useless things became useful.

At the end, we will have everything.

As in the beginning.

When we had nothing.

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