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What is Evolution?

In a world where each individual must struggle to survive, those with the most useful characteristics will be more likely to survive, and those desirable traits will be passed to their offspring. These advantageous characteristics are inherited by following generations, becoming dominant among the population through time. This is natural selection. It may be further inferred that natural selection, if carried far enough, changes a population, eventually becoming a new species. These observations have been amply demonstrated in biology, and fossils confirm the accuracy of these observations.

To summarize Darwin's Theory of Evolution;

  1. Variation: There is Variation in Every Population.
  2. Competition: Organisms Compete for limited resources.
  3. Offspring: Organisms produce more Offspring than can survive, the best adapted will survive.
  4. Genetics: Organisms pass successful or useful genetic traits on to their offspring.
  5. Natural Selection: Those organisms with the Most Beneficial Traits are more likely to Survive and Reproduce.

Darwin imagined it might be possible that all life is descended from an original species from ancient times. DNA evidence supports this idea.

How do organisms evolve?


Probably all organic beings which have ever lived on this earth have descended from some one primordial life form. There is grandeur in this view of life that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.
Charles Darwin, The Origin of Species

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Individual organisms don't evolve:

they simply survive. Populations evolve. Because individuals in a population vary, some in the population are better able to survive and reproduce given a particular set of environmental conditions. The conditions themselves are subject to change. These individuals generally survive and produce more offspring, thus passing their advantageous traits on to the next generation. Over time, the population changes.

Cover of "On The Origine of Species"