Charles Darwin

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What are Darwin's main concepts?

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Darwin's main concepts are about Natural Selection, adaptation, and fitness. What's great about Darwin's ideas is that they all interact and fit together in a unifying explanation for how species change and/or how new species can emerge. When Charles Darwin wrote On the Origin of Species, the idea that organisms evolve and change wasn't new. Darwin's big contribution was that he gave evolutionary changes a mechanism by which it could work. His explanation begins with the idea that individual organisms within a population have slightly different adaptations. A rabbit might have slightly better hearing than the other rabbits or might be slightly faster than the other rabbits. This particular adaptation causes that individual to have a specific level of "fitness" (ability to survive). A more fit individual is more likely to survive and reproduce; therefore, the fittest individuals are the individuals that are surviving to pass on their particular trait. This concept became known as "survival of the fittest," and Natural Selection naturally flows from it. If the fittest organisms are the ones that are surviving and passing on their traits, then it appears that nature is naturally choosing/selecting which traits will be passed on to the next generation. If enough small changes occur in that population of organisms and enough time were to be given, a species might look very different now than it did millions of years ago.

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Charles Darwin as a tremendously influential nineteenth century biologist, known primarily for his 1859 book On the Origin of Species. In this book, he argues that more complex species gradually evolved from less complex ones over millions of years. He suggests two major mechanisms for this process of evolution, random mutation and natural selection. Mutations, according to Darwin, are not adaptive, but random variations. Over time, individuals with favourable mutations are more likely to survive to reproductive age and rear young successfully, and thus mutations gradually propagate through a population. This process of "survival of the fittest" or "Natural selection" accounts for evolution. 

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