Irreversibility of Evolution

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Irreversibility of Evolution


in biology, a law of the historical development of organisms that states that organisms, even when they return to their former habitat, cannot resemble their earlier forms in all respects. In the modern view, the irreversibility of evolution is governed by random processes. The recurrence of certain mutations that sometimes results in the reappearance of certain traits in phylogeny is statistically probable. The repetition of common directions of selection is also probable, but the reproduction of the gene complexes that disappeared or changed in the course of evolution is statistically improbable. Also improbable is the absolute immutability in time of the nonliving and living environment to which evolving organisms adapt.


Sushkin, P. “Obratim li protsess evoliutsii?” In Novye idei v biologii, collection 8. Petrograd, 1915.
Davitashvili, L. Sh. Istoriia evoliutsionnoi paleontologa ot Darvina do nashikh dnei. Moscow-Leningrad, 1948.
Shmal’gauzen, I. I. Problemy darvinizma, 2nd ed. Leningrad, 1969.
Dolio, L. “Les Lois de l’évolution.” Bulletin de la Société Beige de Géologie, de Paléontologie et d’Hydrologie, 1893, vol. 7, pp. 164–66.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
References in periodicals archive ?
Thus, caprellids have a complicated and interesting evolutionary history that does not follow Dollo's law on the irreversibility of evolution (Gould, 1970).