Physical Anthropology

Evolution



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Evolution, as we know it today, is the change in different groups of organisms over time. We could also think of it as a long term adjustment to a certain species. 

Evolution was first introduced to the world by a man named Charles Darwin. He dedicated his life to his theory of evolution and was determined to prove to society, that life worked much differently than originally expected. At the time, the majority of the world believed that the world came to existence 6000 years ago. People believed that humans and the rest of the species living on Earth did not change, and kept their same traits and characteristics from generation to generation.

It all began in 1831. Charles Darwin was summoned aboard the HMS Beagle as a naturalist. The primary objective of the journey was to survey the coast of South America. The ship set sail from London and was off to South America. It would take another 5 years before Darwin would see his home again. 

During the voyage, Charles collected many things that would help him support his theory of evolution. He gathered fossils, rocks, plants, and animals. In 1835, the HMS Beagle arrived at the Galapagos Islands. As Darwin ventured throughout the chain of islands he seemed to notice things that seemed to stand out in particular. On each of the separate 13 islands he visited, he saw different varieties of the same animals. As he pondered over his questions an answer seemed to settle in. Each of the islands had a slightly different environment. For example, on one island, birds must feed off of nuts that are difficult to crack open. On this island he noticed that the birds had a beak that had a specific shape in order for it to be much easier to break open the nuts. On another island, birds have to feed off of nectar from plants. Coincidentally, these birds had long, slim, narrow beaks. Perfect for extracting nectar from the plants. 

He knew that these adaptations must have occurred over time. As the environment changed, the animal changed with it so that it could survive.

When he returned to England many people praised his works and looked up to revolutionary ideas and discoveries, but Darwin kept his theory of evolution to himself. If he opened up to public, many people would detest him for going against his own religion. 

As Darwin continued his studies, he came up with the term natural selection, which meant that animals that are more equipped for their environment will survive and continue to reproduce and those that are less equipped will either have a lesser population or die out over time. 

Charles Darwin wrote many books about his theories and personal thoughts. Today, in our modern society, they have become a key piece to our knowledge about science and biology in particular. What we know about evolution has been handed down to us by Charles Darwin, the founder of the theory of evolution.


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