Outline in detail Darwin’s idea of ‘natural selection’, and explain how this differed from previous evolutionary theories.
Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was a British naturalist who is famously associated with the term ‘natural selection’ which he believed was the process that caused species to evolve. In this essay I aim to explain Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection, contrast it with other similar theories set before it and then an overall conclusion.
Darwin originally studied medicine at Edinburgh University but had an interest in natural history where he was influenced by the work and evolutionary theory of French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck (1744-1829). In 1831 Darwin joined a five year exploration ship, The Beagle, where he read the ‘Principles of Geology’ (1830), the works of geologist Charles Lyell (1797-1875). Lyell comments on the change in rock sediments and suggests that fossils found in rocks may be proof that animals lived thousands, if not millions of year previously. This influenced the ideas of Darwin greatly.
During the explorations of The Beagle, Darwin discovered several different types of closely related finch species on the Galapagos Islands near South America. Although very similar, they had differing characteristics such as their beaks which he later concluded were adaptations for what food was accessible on specific islands that they inhabited. (Web ref 1). On Darwin’s return home he tried to explain his findings and concluded that similar to the geology of rocks, biological organisms also changed through evolution and produced with the idea of ‘natural selection’.
Darwin spent years exploring this idea, and although genetics hadn’t been discovered at the time, his theory is based upon them. He published his idea of evolution in his most famous book ‘The Origin of Species’ (1859).
Darwin had realised that there must be changes in the characteristics of animals, plants and humans and that there...
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