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What did Darwins evolutionary theory state ?
What are its 3 essential parts ?

INHERITANCE, VARIATION + SELECTION are key for evolution to take place

1. The reproduced new generation, will resemble their parents

2. Each generation will include new variations
--> resemblance is close but not perfect

3. Due to new variations the new generation will be better able to survive + reproduce

=> small accumulative changes are the key to the origin of species


Natural selection

Refers to a process by which the environment results in the continuation + multiplication of organisms with favorable genetic features

--> hinders the reproduction of organisms with unfavorable genetic features


Survival of the fittest
(Herbert Spencer)

States that only organisms that fit within the environment + can produce viable offsprings will survive

--> describes the outcome of natural selection


The origin of species

Is a book by Charles Darwin in which he presented the evolutionary theory

--> he was 50 when he first published it


How did Darwins observations on cross fertilization impact his work on natural selection ?

He discovered that cross fertilization produced variation in the offspring that was

a) more vital
b) sometimes resulted in a creation of new flower

--> self fertilization resulted in less healthy offsprings


What was the "Dilution problem" ?

Darwin failed to explain how a signal new plant/animal could come to dominate the rest

--> Jenkin stated that a new feature placed amid a group of other features will dilute

ex.: a white mans features will never become dominant in group of black people, even if he has kids


What are common misunderstandings of the evolutionary theory ?

1. Genes do not induce changes in a plant/animal so that it becomes more adapted to environment

--> this happens due to random alteration/mutation

2. Organisms do not become better/stronger

--> they're merely best adapted to their current environment in order to survive


Francis Galton
(Cousin of Darwin)

Was a british polymath + advocate of Darwins evolutionary theory

--> his ultimate goal was to find evidence for the heredity of intelligence, wasn't successful though
--> initiator of IQ tests


Charles Darwins Brief summary of his life

1. Born 1809 in Schrewsbury

2. Son of a doctor of a upper class family

3. 1 other brother + 3 elder sisters

4. Was brought up in an intellectual, free thinking, scientific family atmosphere


Where did Darwin go to School ?

1. Edinburgh medical school where he dropped out 2 years later

2. Christs college to get an "ordinary" degree
--> forced by his father who was against his passion for natural history

=> his later achievements can be summarized as a mix of both schools


Which impact did the "Plinian society" have on Darwins career ?

Its were he met Robert Grant, who urged him to read Lamarcks "System of Invertebrate animals"


John Stevens Henslow

Close professorial friend of Darwins who he met during his school years at Cambridge

--> offered Darwin a voyage around the world on the HMS Beagle


Why was Darwin still able to pursue his passions of Natural history when attending catholic school in Cambridge ?

His lecture schedule was undemanding, giving him time to attend natural history courses

--> especially the lectures of his closest friends Henslow + Sedgwick


Which impact did the 5-year voyage of the Beagle have on Darwins career ?

1. Determined his whole career

2. Made enormous collections of birds, invertebrates, fossils etc
--> including many unusual + new species

3. Developed an intense understanding on the variations of the natural world

4. Documented all the explored species + how they might change into other species
--> "Transmutation notebooks"


Which impact did Charles Lyells "Principles of Geology" have on Darwins work ?

1. He used Lyells geological ideas to explain the landforms he saw

2. He used Lyells work as ground work to produce his own theories


How did Darwin maintain his huge global network of friends which had a major impact on his findings ?

His letter writing was his way of

a) cementing scientific friendship
b) pursuing collaborations
c) gathering observations

--> revealed how much his success depended on others
--> he maintained his friendships + memberships without ever leaving the country


Alfred Wallace

Friend of Darwins who had formulated similar ideas on the origin of species as Darwin

--> one of his papers finally induced Darwin to publish his theory


How did people react to Darwins theory when it was first published ?

The responses were mixed

--> many accepted the idea of evolution but not the proposed mechanism


How did the distribution of species eventually provide evidence for evolution ?

Flora + Fauna of any particular island are related to those of the nearest mainland, but slightly different

--> suggested that variations depend on how long they had been separated

--> Initial separation likely occurred due to natural disasters


Galapagos finches

Finches had evolved into 14 separate species in 2 mil years, varying in

a) environmental preferences
b) shape of beaks
c) food preferences


Why did Darwin use the word "transmutation" instead of of "evolution"

The word "evolution" had a teleological meaning in Darwins time, whereas "transmutation" was more neutral


Why did Darwin speak of "gradual" changes, when speaking of an earthquake and his theory in general ?

"Gradual changes" meant "step like changes" in Darwins time, not slow + steady changes


What is the scientific meaning of "random" ?

Knowing the probabilities of each outcome in advance

--> we can predict the distributions of the outcome


Natural theology
(former version of intelligent design)

Refers to the search for God in nature

--> Intricate/complex adaptations of organisms, with their precise functions, imply a divine creator


Intelligent design
(Subgroup of creationism)

Accept most science, but want supernatural propositions to be considered as part of science

--> include

a) Irreducible complexity
b) Specified complexity


Irreducible complexity

If you find a complex structure, that if you removed one of its parts, it would no longer work, one most admit that its structure + function count have evolved by natural means


Specified complexity

If you can rule out the possibility that a structure evolved either by natural processes or chance, then you must accept supernatural creatures being involved


How did Darwin impact Psychology ?

1. His theory gave rise to small fields in psychology, who in turn gained in popularity (Comparative psychology)

2. Psychologists investigated individual difference in e.g. intelligence (Galton)

3. Psychology has more biological underpinnings

4. His principles are invaluable tools for mapping the structure of the modern human mind


Evolutionary psychology

Theoretical lens, that is informing all branches of psychology, and is based on a series of premises

1. Evolutionary processes have sculpted the brain + body

2. Psychological adaptations have contributed to survival + adaptations

3. Adaptations differ in some important ways from their ancestors


Social Darwinism

States that the best competitors in a competitive situation will win

--> humans are part of a natural world, which is characterized by relentless struggle for existence in which the strongest, must cunning will prevail