Skip to main content
Select Source:

Dollo's law

Dollo's law Evolutionary irreversibility: once regarded as inevitable, but now considered to apply mainly in special cases. The potential for further useful mutation may well be very limited in highly specialized organisms, since only those mutations that will allow the organism to continue in its narrow niche will normally be functionally possible. In such cases there is therefore a self-perpetuating, almost irreversible, evolutionary trend, so much so that it is regarded virtually as a law, ‘Dollo's law’ (after the palaeontologist Louis Dollo). The trend results from steady directional selective pressure, or orthoselection reinforced by specialization, or developmental canalization.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Dollo's law." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Dollo's law." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/dollos-law-1

"Dollo's law." A Dictionary of Zoology. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/dollos-law-1

Dollo's law

Dollo's law A law describing evolutionary irreversibility: once regarded as inevitable, but now considered to apply mainly in special cases. The potential for further useful mutation may well be very limited in highly specialized organisms, since only those mutations that will allow the organism to continue in its narrow niche will normally be functionally possible. In such cases there is therefore a self-perpetuating, almost irreversible, evolutionary trend, so much so that it is regarded virtually as a law, Dollo's law (after the palaeontologist Louis Dollo). The trend results from steady directional selective pressure, or orthoselection reinforced by specialization.

Cite this article
Pick a style below, and copy the text for your bibliography.

  • MLA
  • Chicago
  • APA

"Dollo's law." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. 22 Aug. 2017 <http://www.encyclopedia.com>.

"Dollo's law." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Encyclopedia.com. (August 22, 2017). http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/dollos-law-0

"Dollo's law." A Dictionary of Plant Sciences. . Retrieved August 22, 2017 from Encyclopedia.com: http://www.encyclopedia.com/science/dictionaries-thesauruses-pictures-and-press-releases/dollos-law-0