BIOL 3609 - Lec 1.docx - Early Evolutionary Ideas and Darwin’s Insight Lecture 1 “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution”

BIOL 3609 - Lec 1.docx - Early Evolutionary Ideas and...

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Early Evolutionary Ideas and Darwin’s Insight Lecture 1 “Nothing in biology makes sense, except in the light of evolution” – Theodosius Dobzhansky (1973) “Why? Because Darwin’s idea put together the two biggest worlds, the world of the mechanism… Before Darwin: Origins of Life spontaneous generation was a dominant idea for the origins of life Francesco Redi (1626-1697) demonstrated experimentally that maggots did not arise through spontaneous generation The idea nonetheless persisted because the new technology of the microscope showed organisms such as bacteria and fungi appearing on substances such a as spoiled broth without any clear parental source Before Darwin: Adaptations William Paley’s Natural theology Organisms must have been intentionally designed by a benevolent deity in order to thrive in their environments o living beings must have been designed by other similarly thinking living beings “Anyone finding a pocket watch in a field will recognize that it was designed intelligently...” Before Darwin: Adaptations & modifications Jean Baptiste Lamarck proposed that new, more complex species had descended, gradually, from older, less complex species Mechanism: Inheritance of acquired characteristics : during the lifetime of an organism, the habits of the organism bring about changes in its structure, and such structural changes are passed down across generations Famous for bring wrong but first to explicitly connect the environment to the evolution of adaptations Before Darwin: Change & Time Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation (1845) The composition of species has slowly and gradually changed over time New species arise from old ones Populations evolve; individuals do not Does not propose a theory to explain why new species come into bring or recognize the role of the environment in the changes experienced by species Uniformitarianism o Charles Lyell aimed to explain Earths geological features by appealing to the same geological processes currently observable
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o He argued that these same processes have operated over very long periods of time in a slow, gradual manner o Deep influence on Darwin’s thinking – The diversity of life on Earth can be explained by mechanisms that are in operation today, acting over very long periods of time Darwin & Wallace The birth of modern evolutionary biology
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