How Darwin Discovered Evolution

Today the theory of evolution is a complex body of theory supported by other branches of science. In other words, we do not need the theory of evolution to know that evolution is a fact. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, the world was different.

Darwin discovered evolution with the help of beaks of finches.
Finches with beaks adapted to the specific food sources
Human DNA Strings
Darwin could not know about DNA.
Other Forces of Evolution

Darwin concluded that the species were in constant evolution and all life on Earth was related. Humans and apes shared a common ancestor and humans evolved from an ape-like species.

Darwin is considered the father of evolutionary biology. The theory he proposed started a revolution in science. However, keep in mind, Darwin is not a scientific prophet. In the last 150 years, millions of scientists (mostly deists in their personal lives) worked on the theory of evolution, and a high school biology student already knows for more than Charles Darwin, who was not aware of genes.

Today, when people say Darwin’s Theory of Evolution they more than likely mean the contemporary theory of evolution, and in the contemporary theory of evolution natural selection is not the only drive for evolution. Others are sexual selection, genetic drift, mutation, and gene flow.

Today the theory of evolution is a complex body of theory supported by other branches of science. In other words, we do not need the theory of evolution to know that evolution is a fact. However, in the mid-nineteenth century, when Charles Darwin discovered evolution, the world was different.

Contrary to popular belief Charles Darwin was not the first scientist to come up with the concept of evolution. Long before Darwin scientists had already made connections between humans, apes, and monkeys because of the obvious physical similarities between each other.

Charles Darwin was the first scientist who not only proposed but also supported evolution with a beautiful theory: Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection (a.k.a. survival of the fittest).

Thomas Malthus, English economist
Thomas Malthus, English economist
Inspiration to Charles Darwin

The English economist Thomas Malthus may not be a household name today, however, he played a major role in the discovery of evolution by natural selection. Thomas Malthus had a major influence on Charles Darwin, and he was an inspiration to Charles Darwin’s works.

In 1798, Thomas Malthus published the book Principle of Population where he made the observations that humans would be likely to overproduce if the population size was not kept under control.

Malthus’ Principle of Population caused Darwin to rethink many issues while coming up with his theory of natural selection. Malthus’s work made Darwin realize the importance of overpopulation and how it was necessary to have variability in different populations. Darwin also used Malthus’ ideas to use competition as well as the survival in numbers idea to come up with his full idea of natural selection.

Finches with beaks adapted to the specific food sources
Finches with beaks adapted to the specific food sources
How Natural Selection Works
  • All species have such immense potential fertility that their population size would increase exponentially if all individuals that are born go on to reproduce successfully.
  • Populations tend to remain stable in size, except for seasonal fluctuations. Therefore, there must be a mechanism that prevents an exponential increase in population. This mechanism is triggered by environmental factors such as limited resources for things such as food and shelter.
  • There is a continuous struggle for existence among individuals. The individuals vary extensively in their characteristics. The individuals that survive are more likely to reproduce and pass on their favorable characteristics to their offspring than those with unfavorable characteristics. In every generation, the population becomes ever so slightly more adapted to its habitat.
Human DNA Strings
Human DNA Strings
Other Forces of Evolution

Darwin concluded that the species were in constant evolution and all life on Earth was related. Humans and apes shared a common ancestor and humans evolved from an ape-like species.

Darwin is considered the father of evolutionary biology. The theory he proposed started a revolution in science. However, keep in mind, Darwin is not a scientific prophet. In the last 150 years, millions of scientists (mostly deists in their personal lives) worked on the theory of evolution, and a high school biology student already knows for more than Charles Darwin, who was not aware of genes.

Today, when people say Darwin’s Theory of Evolution they more than likely mean the contemporary theory of evolution, and in the contemporary theory of evolution natural selection is not the only drive for evolution. Others are sexual selection, genetic drift, mutation, and gene flow.

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Tamer Aydogdu
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