Social Sciences

Start Free Trial

Explain why it is incorrect with regards to evolutionary theory and the process of natural selection to say that “Evolution requires millions of years to occur" according to this link: https://evolution.berkeley.edu/evolibrary/misconceptions_faq.php.

Expert Answers

An illustration of the letter 'A' in a speech bubbles

There's a widespread belief in the general population that evolution happens in a step-by-step process. This belief contains the assumption that evolution needs millions of years to produce noticeable changes in a species. However, this isn't the case. The site you provided a link for shows us that it's a misconception to believe that evolution can only occur in a slow, gradual, and deliberate manner. It can often happen in the blink of an eye. The site points to the example of a single-celled organism called foraminiferans, which evolved new body shapes during a single period of expansive change even though it has existed for ten million years.

This isn't a phenomenon that's limited to single-celled organisms. The site also points out that squirrels have evolved new breeding times in response to climate change, a species of fish has evolved resistance to toxins dumped in the Hudson River, and microbes continuously evolve resistance to new drugs that we've developed. All of this change has occurred in just the past fifty years. There are a wide variety of examples we can point to in order to show that evolution does not require millions of years to occur. Therefore, it would be incorrect to make that statement.

Approved by eNotes Editorial Team