Definition of Red Queen hypothesis in English:

Red Queen hypothesis


  • The hypothesis that organisms are constantly struggling to keep up with one another in an evolutionary race between predator and prey species.

    • ‘A popular theory is the Red Queen hypothesis, named after the Lewis Carroll character who tells Alice that she must keep running simply to stay in the same place.’
    • ‘Taking an experimental approach to paleoecology, we evaluated the prey portion of Van Valen's Red Queen hypothesis by retrieving diapausing eggs from lake sediments for laboratory tests of evolutionary responses.’
    • ‘Evolutionary biologists call this phenomenon, in which an organism evolves just to stay in place, the Red Queen hypothesis.’


1970s: named from a passage in Lewis Carroll's Through the Looking Glass, in which the Red Queen tells Alice that ‘it takes all the running you can do to stay in the same place’.