Evolution and Darwinism





In The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin poetically entailed, "There is grandeur in this view of life . . .." Personifying Nature as the ultimate breeder, Darwin infers and hypothesizes what is arguably the most fundamental and profound scientific manifesto that governs what we now know about modern science and the science of discovering our past. His two theories of Natural Selection and Sexual Selection effectively bridge the gap that his predecessors could not. These concepts are imperative as their implications paved the way for Darwin\'s explanation of Evolution.
The term "Survival of the Fittest" has been made synonymous with Darwinian ideology, yet to fully understand this idea we need to know what it truly means to be "fit." As discussed in class, being fit does not necessarily imply fitness on a physical or mental level. Rather, the principle entails how well-suited one is for its environment or a readiness for a species to adapt, whether to a new habitat or possibly changes in food, shelter, climate, etc.
Through small, almost unnoticable change, over large periods of time, organisms develop physiological and/or anatomical features that invariably help the organism live or live easier. It is important to note that this does not infer that the process of adaptation takes place for the mere purpose of only "bettering" a species or self-improvement, rather modifications are a supplemental benefit. Darwin stated that, "if they be in any degree profitable to the individuals of a species, in their indefinitely complex relations to the organic beings and to their physical conditions of life, will tend to the preservation of such individuals . . .." In some cases this modification can be a detriment to a species.
Take for example a species of like-moths in England preceding and during the Industrial Revolution. Before the manufacture of goods in large quantities, two types of moths, white and gray would rest on the bark of trees where birds would prey upon them. The barks of trees were mainly white, which helped the white moths immensely in that they were camouflaged from their predators. Conversely, the gray moths were clearly noticeable and were thus preyed upon heavily. With the advent of machinery, dust and smoke turned the barks of trees from white to gray, which shifted the predatorial tendencies from gray moths to white. Thus we are able to infer that while the adaptation of color was beneficial to a group of species for a certain extent of time, it does not guarantee that Mother Nature will not shift her favor at some other point in time.
Nature has an infinite supply of checks and balances at her disposal. The amount of food present in a location is key to determining how many organisms an environment can maintain. Those who may be better adapted to, for example, eat leaves on tall trees, such as giraffes, would have less difficulty surviving in a terrain containing tall trees. Climactic divergences of extreme frost or drought can severely wipe out a species ill adapted for that type of weather. Predation and epidemics can also scourge population when numbers of a species are too high.
Darwin wisely noted in his work that, "there must be much fortuitous destruction, which can have little or no influence on the course of natural selection," those who do invariably survive however, were statistically the best-adapted species for their environment. If these "better" species continued under the same conditions, where slight modifications in the structure or habits give it an advantage over another species, and they were able to pass down these modifications to their offspring, the weaker like-species would eventually die off or assimilate with the flock. Evolution, therefore, is a result of the passing on of traits, usually on a small scale, over gradual periods of time. We are able to see this timeline of Evolution through the Fossil Record, although some sections may have eroded or been destroyed over the lapse of time.
Seventeenth century English author John Dunne stated "No Man is an Island," and in a very literal and figurative definition it can be said that no single organism can survive without depending on something else. Yet, Nature dictates a precarious balance where no one entity can truly reign supreme over all others. As the population