Evolution: Why Humans Are The Way They Are
When the word evolution comes to mind there are a few things that are automatically associated with the term. A few of them being: Charles Darwin, biology, and controversy. Evolution is a very broad topic that concerns every living thing on the earth. It is responsible for bringing species into the form that they are today, and the form that species will be in the future. Without evolution the world would be a very different place today. The human species is the first species to be able to recognize evolution as the process of development for all of biology. It is very clear that humans are very different from every other living thing. From our way of life, our ability to remember things from the past, and to be able to plan for the future. The many aspects of evolution have been studied thoroughly, yet there is still more to discover.
The theory of evolution was developed by the english naturalist, Charles Darwin. He originally went to school to be a medical doctor, and half-way through switching to religious studies. His main interests landed in the field of biology and geology. In 1831, after he had completed school, he landed a spot on the HMS Beagle as an unpaid naturalist. The voyage would last for 5 years, and it was on that voyage that Darwin would become fascinated with biology and ultimately begin his theory of evolution (O’Neil). They sailed around the tip of South America and eventually came across the Galapagos Islands. These islands are where Darwin began to notice differences amongst species from island to island. Darwin’s finches, one of the most notable examples Darwin used for the theory of evolution, were found on these islands. Darwin began to notice that all of life was connected, and that variations among species could cause changes over time.
Darwin was also responsible for the theory of natural selection, which is a major component of evolution. Natural selection is the means, or process, by which evolution acts. Natural selection, simply put, is what directs the variations that occur among species, but does not act with any intent of a end goal in mind. Natural selection is essentially, “Survival of the fittest.” Those fit to survive, or adapt, have the best chance of producing offspring, and passing their traits on to the next generation. This is a continual process, and over many years changes or variations will occur, leaving those that are unfit for survival behind. Mark Pagel describes variations and outcomes of variations in 150 Years on Natural Selection when he says, “First, as organisms have increased in complexity over time, natural selection has had more to work with. For example, it often co-opts preexisting genetic regulatory circuits, fashioning them to take on new roles. Second, as time passes, diversity seems to beget more diversity by creating different ways for species to make a living. For example, the first species to appear is unlikely to be a predator, but the second might be. This idea matches the human cultural experience of domesticating dogs. In just a few thousand years, humans created varieties ranging from chihuahuas to Great Danes. Each new breed seems to have suggested another, and dogs did not run out of the genetic variation that humans fancied (Pagel).” The central idea of evolution is that over time, changes will begin to occur from generation to generation due to environment changes and the ability to adapt and reproduce.
Every aspect of the human species is a result of the evolutionary process. In many ways humans are very similar to animals. Humans share, with animals, the need for food and for shelter, the desire to reproduce, and biologically share similar processes within the structures of anatomy. How ever, there are a few things that separate humans from the rest of the animals that live today. Evolution has provided humans with intelligence. Intelligence allows us to adapt in ways that other animals and...
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