Eli5: Why do some animals of the same species grow bigger than others?


Let’s take ball pythons for example. Males typically only reach lengths of around three feet long, but a few of them do exceed expectations. The same can be said for females.

I know the simple answer is genetics, but I know pretty much nothing about that kind of stuff. Could someone dumb it down for me?

In: 1

Well, there’s a wide range of genes within a population, all encoding different phenotypes. Just random mutation will ensure that to some degree, but sexual reproduction exists almost purely to maximize both the number of genes in the gene pool, and the number of individuals with novel genotypes.

As for WHY sexual reproduction has evolved to maximize genetic diversity: its good for the species’ survival. On some conditions (like, say, when therea lot of fighting going on, either with predators or within the dpecues for resources) being bug might ne advantageous. In other conditions (like, say, when predators too nig/strong to feasibly fight are introduced and you need to hide), being small might be advantageous. local conditions can change rapidly, so having a lot of genetic diversity let’s the species quickly adapt to changing conditions (here meaning adapting within one-five generations instead of 20-30).

Why does Ross, the largest friend, not simply eat the other five?