What is Evolution?

Evolution is change in heritable traits of biological organisms over generations due to natural selection, mutation, gene flow, and genetic drift. Also known as descent with modification. Over time these evolutionary processes lead to formation of new species (speciation), changes within lineages (anagenesis), and loss of species (extinction). “Evolution” is also another name for evolutionary biology, the subfield of biology concerned with studying evolutionary processes that produced the diversity of life on Earth.

 

Evolution is the scientific theory explaining the appearance of new species and varieties through the action of various biological mechanisms (such as natural selection, genetic mutation or drift, and hybridization)

A Belgian Blue cow. The defect in the breed's myostatin gene is maintained through linebreeding and is responsible for its accelerated lean muscle growth.

Selective Breeding

Selective Breeding Selective breeding (also called artificial selection) is the process by which humans use animal breeding and plant breeding to selectively develop particular phenotypic traits (characteristics) by choosing which typically animal or plant males and females will sexually reproduce and have offspring together. Domesticated animals are known as breeds, normally bred by a professional breeder, while domesticated plants are known as varieties, cultigens, cultivars, or breeds. Two purebred...

Creationism

Level of Support for Evolution

Level of Support for Evolution The level of support for evolution among scientists, the public, and other groups is a topic that frequently arises in the creation–evolution controversy, and touches on educational, religious, philosophical, scientific, and political issues. The subject is especially contentious in countries where significant levels of non-acceptance of evolution by...

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Criticism of Evolutionary Psychology

Criticism of Evolutionary Psychology Evolutionary psychology has generated significant controversy and criticism. The criticism includes: disputes about the testability of evolutionary hypotheses, alternatives to some of the cognitive assumptions (such as massive modularity) frequently employed in evolutionary psychology, alleged vagueness stemming from evolutionary assumptions (such as uncertainty about the environment of...

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Conscious Evolution

Conscious Evolution Conscious evolution refers to the theoretical ability of human beings to be conscious participants in the evolution of their cultures, or even of the entirety of human society, based on a relatively recent combination of factors, including increasing awareness of cultural and social patterns, reaction against perceived problems with...

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Applications of Evolution

Applications of Evolution Applications of evolution can be seen in different fields of science ranging from regular science to social science such as genetics, ecology, ethics, and physiology. Evolutionary biology, in particular the understanding of how organisms evolve through natural selection, is an area of science with many practical applications....

Evolution

Outline of Evolution

Outline of Evolution Evolution – change in heritable traits of biological organisms over generations due to natural selection, mutation, gene flow, and genetic drift. Also known as descent with modification. Over time these evolutionary processes lead to formation of new species (speciation), changes within lineages (anagenesis), and loss of species (extinction). “Evolution” is also another name for evolutionary biology, the...

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Objections to Evolution

Objections to Evolution Objections to evolution have been raised since evolutionary ideas came to prominence in the 19th century. When Charles Darwin published his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, his theory of evolution (the idea that species arose through descent with modification from a single common ancestor in a process driven by natural selection) initially met opposition from scientists with different theories,...

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Adaptation

Adaptation In biology, adaptation has three related meanings. Firstly, it is the dynamic evolutionary process that fits organisms to their environment, enhancing their evolutionary fitness. Secondly, it is a state reached by the population during that process. Thirdly, it is a phenotypic trait or adaptive trait, with a functional role in each individual organism, that is maintained and has...

Religious Views of Charles Darwin

Religious Views of Charles Darwin Charles Darwin’s views on religion have been the subject of much interest and dispute. His pivotal work in the development of modern biology and evolution theory played a prominent part in debates about religion and science at the time. In the early 20th century, his...

Development of Darwin’s Theory

Development of Darwin’s Theory Following the inception of Charles Darwin’s theory of natural selection in 1838, the development of Darwin’s theory to explain the “mystery of mysteries” of how new species originated was his “prime hobby” in the background to his main occupation of publishing the scientific results of the Beagle voyage. He was settling into married life, but suffered...

Reactions to On The Origin of Species

Reactions to On The Origin of Species The immediate reactions to On the Origin of Species, the book in which Charles Darwin described evolution by natural selection, included international debate, though the heat of controversy was less than that over earlier works such as Vestiges of Creation. Darwin monitored the debate closely, cheering on Thomas Henry Huxley’s...

Publication of Darwin’s Theory

Publication of Darwin’s Theory The publication of Darwin’s theory brought into the open Charles Darwin’s theory of evolution through natural selection, the culmination of more than twenty years of work. Thoughts on the possibility of transmutation of species which he recorded in 1836 towards the end of his five-year voyage on the Beagle were followed on his return by findings...

Inception of Darwin’s Theory

Inception of Darwin’s Theory The inception of Darwin’s theory occurred during an intensively busy period which began when Charles Darwin returned from the survey voyage of the Beagle, with his reputation as a fossil collector and geologist already established. He was given an allowance from his father to become a gentleman naturalist rather than a clergyman, and his first tasks were...

Molecular Evolution

Molecular Evolution Molecular evolution is the process of change in the sequence composition of cellular molecules such as DNA, RNA, and proteins across generations. The field of molecular evolution uses principles of evolutionary biology and population genetics to explain patterns in these changes. Major topics in molecular evolution concern the...

History of Molecular Evolution

History of Molecular Evolution The history of molecular evolution starts in the early 20th century with “comparative biochemistry“, but the field of molecular evolution came into its own in the 1960s and 1970s, following the rise of molecular biology. The advent of protein sequencing allowed molecular biologists to create phylogenies based...

Universal Darwinism

Universal Darwinism Universal Darwinism (also known as generalized Darwinism, universal selection theory, or Darwinian metaphysics) refers to a variety of approaches that extend the theory of Darwinism beyond its original domain of biological evolution on Earth. Universal Darwinism aims to formulate a generalized version of the mechanisms of variation, selection and heredity proposed by Charles...

Speciation

Speciation Speciation is the evolutionary process by which populations evolve to become distinct species. The biologist Orator F. Cook coined the term in 1906 for cladogenesis, the splitting of lineages, as opposed to anagenesis, phyletic evolution within lineages.[1][2][3] Charles Darwin was the first to describe the role of natural selection in speciation in his...

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Acceptance of Evolution by Religious Groups

Acceptance of Evolution by Religious Groups Although biological evolution has been vocally opposed by some religious groups, many other groups accept the scientific position, sometimes with additions to allow for theological considerations. The positions of such groups are described by terms including “theistic evolution”, “theistic evolutionism” or “evolutionary creation“. Theistic evolutionists believe...

Microevolution

Microevolution Microevolution is the change in allele frequencies that occurs over time within a population.[1] This change is due to four different processes: mutation, selection (natural and artificial), gene flow and genetic drift. This change happens over a relatively short (in evolutionary terms) amount of time compared to the changes termed macroevolution which is where greater differences in the population occur. Population...

Macroevolution

Macroevolution Macroevolution is evolution on a scale at or above the level of species, in contrast with microevolution, which refers to smaller evolutionary changes of allele frequencies within a species or population. Macroevolution and microevolution describe fundamentally identical processes on different scales. The process of speciation may fall within the purview of either, depending on the forces thought...