What are Micro and Macro Evolution?
When we think about evolution, we usually think about new species being formed or the iconic image of an ape turning into a primitive hominid turning into a modern human. While these are all example of evolution, they are specifically examples of macroevolution.
Ape to Man: Incorrect Linear Concept. (Fotos, 2019)
Macroevolution takes place on a massive timescale, and can even exceed the bounds of a single species. For example, the evolutionary idea that all life arose from one single living ancestor is an idea rooted in macroevolution. Darwin’s original publication, the Origin of Species, was largely about macroevolution.
What about microevolution? Microevolution takes place within a single species or population and is far less pronounced and dramatic. One common definition of microevolution is that it is “the change of allele frequency in a population over time”. So for a population of humans with brown eye and blue eye alleles, a small shift in the proportion of those two alleles in the population would be enough to count as microevolution.
Image Source: Human Origins: Non-Linear Correct Representation
Microevolution can also encompass changes in traits of a species or even just a population. An example would be a species of grasshopper becoming darker in color over several generations due to a greater proportion of dark vegetation in their habitat.
Both macroevolution and microevolution are vital to our understanding of adaptation and the evolutionary connections between different living things. Both can give us valuable scientific information.
Fotos, Alexas (photographer). (2019). Evolution Development Forward [photography]. Retrieved from https://pixabay.com/photos/evolution-development-forward-4107273/