Charles Darwin is widely regarded as the “Father of Evolution”
A collection of rare notebooks containing Charles Darwin’s notes has been anonymously returned to the University of Cambridge. The valuable items, which the university estimates are worth “millions,” were discovered missing during a routine check in January 2001. Following an “exhaustive” search that lasted years, the university declared the notebooks missing – and most likely stolen – in November 2020. At the time, the university issued a global call for assistance in locating the books.
They were left outside the librarian’s office with an unsigned printed note – “Librarian, Happy Easter X.”
Charles Darwin ( 1809 – 1882), a British naturalist and biologist, is famously known as the Father of Evolution. In 1859, he published ‘On the Origin of Species’, which gave the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection.
Darwin set out on a voyage to the South American coast in 1831. Darwin spent a large portion of his journey on land collecting samples of plants, animals, rocks, and fossils. Studies of his trip samples and notes resulted in groundbreaking scientific discoveries. Darwin’s research led him to wonder about how species form and change over time. This work persuaded him of the most famous insight that he is most famous for: natural selection. Alfred Russel Wallace also reached a similar-looking theory at the same time.
Giraffes, for example, have evolved long necks that allow them to feed on leaves that others cannot reach, giving them a competitive advantage. Because of a better food source, those with longer necks could survive and were able to reproduce and pass on the trait to the next generation. Those with shorter necks and less food access are less likely to survive and pass on their genes.
The process by which populations adapt and change is known as natural selection. Individuals in a population are all different in some ways. This variation indicates that some people have traits that are better suited to their environment than others. Individuals who have adaptive traits (traits that give them an advantage) are more likely to survive and reproduce. These people then pass on their adaptive traits to their offspring. These advantageous traits become more prevalent in the population over time. Beneficial traits are passed down through generations as a result of this natural selection process. He argued that natural selection explained how a diverse range of life forms evolved from a common ancestor over time.
Darwin was unaware of the existence of genes, but he observed that many traits are heritable—passed down from parents to offspring.
Mutations are structural changes in the molecules that make up genes, called DNA. Mutations can be harmful, neutral, or even beneficial, resulting in the development of a new, advantageous trait. Natural selection occurs when beneficial genetic mutations to an individual’s survival are passed down through reproduction. As a result, a new generation of organisms emerges that is more likely to survive and reproduce.
However, if the environment changes quickly, some species may be unable to adapt quickly enough through natural selection. Many organisms that once existed on Earth are now extinct, as we know. One example is dinosaurs. Human actions such as overhunting and habitat destruction are now the leading causes of extinction.