Evolution Have you ever thought about why life is so diverse?

The answer is because of evolution by natural selection. Evolution is a gradual change over many generations in which species adapt to become better suited to their environment. In the confines of this paper, you will join me in my journey back in time to discover the meaning and history of evolution. Natural Selection is a process where only those best suited to their environment survive long enough to reproduce. There are three main factors that affect natural selection: Variations, overproduction, and competition. Organisms that manage to reproduce pass their favorable traits that allowed them to survive so far on to the next generation, who in turn have their own unique traits, or variations, which have a part in determining who will survive, and so on and so forth. Variations are very important. If there were no variations in species, natural selection couldn’t happen because every individual would have the same chance of surviving to reproduce. Many species make a lot more offspring than the environment can support. Obviously, they can’t all live. This ties in to the competition part of it. Organisms must compete against each other to survive, since resources are so limited. Competition isn’t always actual fighting. Often it’s more indirect competition, like escaping a predator or finding food. There are four main points in the theory of natural selection. First, individuals are born with variations among the rest of the species. Secondly, some of these variations make individuals better adapted to their environment. Thirdly, these organisms are more likely to reproduce and pass their traits on. Lastly, in time this creates a new species. The theory of natural selection was discovered by Charles Darwin. Darwin was a British naturalist born in 1809. When he was 22, he went on a voyage on the ship Beagle. From his

observations on the Galapagos Islands, he came up with the idea of natural selection. He then spent more than 20 years perfecting his theory. In 859, he published a book called The Origin of Species. In it, Darwin proposed how evolution might occur from natural selection. It’s his most famous work. When Darwin first published his theory in The Origin of Species, it was heavily criticized for religious reasons. Many rejected natural selection since it seemed to clash with the biblical account of man. Natural Selection was and still is a very controversial theory. Even though the Catholic Pope stated in 1996 that evolution was more than a hypothesis and there was no conflict between evolution and the Bible, less than half of all Americans accept evolution today. People that reject evolution for a more religious worldview are called creationists. Evolution forms the basis of all biology. If we didn’t understand evolution, we wouldn’t have any knowledge of genetics, heredity, DNA, and many other aspects of science. Besides biology, evolution greatly increased our knowledge in such fields as medicine, agriculture, and even crime forensics! Evolution is a theory with a lot of evidence for it. However, evolution is not a theory in the common sense of the word. It is a scientific theory, which is a well-tested concept that explains a wide range of observations. Evolution is therefore treated as fact by the scientific community. That organisms have changed over time is evident in the fossil record, patterns in early development, and similar body structures. Some species have similar body structures because they evolved from a common ancestor. These structures are called homologous structures. Scientists know that the environment sometimes changes. This environmental change can cause extinctions. Environmental change eliminates food sources, disrupts birth schedules, and

exposes animals to conditions which they are not adapted to. In this way, species that are most successful in a given environment are particularly suspect to environmental change. Versatile species which can live in many different environments are the most likely to survive. Extinction is becoming an extremely prevalent problem in today’s world. Species are dying faster than ever before, at a rate of 1000 to 1. Some say climate change is at fault for animal extinctions, while others blame humans hunting them and destroying their habitats. Regardless of what causes extinctions, it is only one of the many things we now understand much better due to evolution. Evolution is an important scientific theory that explains biodiversity. It is crucial to understanding the natural world. Darwin came up with the idea of natural selection as the mechanism which drives evolution, and so far scientists haven’t been able to disprove his theory. In fact, just the opposite. They have found a lot of evidence supporting natural selection. While some of the details may have changed, his principle idea has remained unchanged for almost two hundred years.

Works Cited

1. Adler, Jerry. “Evolution of a Scientist.” Newsweek. 28 Nov 2005: 50 – 55. 2. Alexander Ph.D., Peter et al. Earth Science. Morristown, NJ: Silver, Burdett & Ginn Inc.,

3. Cronkite Ph.D., Donald. Cells and Heredity. Boston: Prentice Hall, 2007. 4. “How Does Evolution Impact My Life?.” Understanding Evolution. 15 Oct 2008.

5. K., Mani. “What is a Fossil?.” Fossils: Window to the Past. Dec. 1996. University of

California Museum of Paleontology. 15 Oct 2008. <http://www.ucmp.berkeley.edu/paleo/fossils/>.
6. Plover, Roger. “Extinction in the Natural World.” Mysteries of Life. June 2006. 15 Oct

2008. <http://www.plover/keyword=extinction5092/environ.html/>.
7. Science and Technology Department of the Carnegie Library of Pittsburgh. The Handy

Science Answer Book. Canton, MI: Visible Ink Press, 1997.
8. “Series Overview.” Evolution. PBS. 21 Oct 2008.

9. Wilson, Tracy V. “How Extinction Works.” How Stuff Works. Discovery. 15 Oct 2008.

10. Wilson, Tracy V. “How Fossils Work.” How Stuff Works. Discovery. 15 Oct 2008.

11. “The Late Pleistocene Extinctions.” The United States 16000 Years Ago. Illinois State

Museum. 15 Oct 2008. <http://www.museum.state.il.us/exhibits/Larson/lp_extinction.html>.

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