Lecture_02_Ev_theory0-1

Lecture_02_Ev_theory0-1 - 8/24/2006 Lecture 2 Evolutionary...

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8/24/2006 Lecture 2 Evolutionary theory * Many ideas in this course are based on the idea that the physical form and behavioral capacities of humans have evolved through NATURAL SELECTION on ancestral populations. * Evolutionary theory is a unifying theory of life—it seeks to explain the diversity of life forms and their origins The theory of evolution by natural selection * Charles Darwin , Origin of the Species, 1859 * Alfred Russell Wallace , 1859 Darwin, like many natural scientists of the 19 th century, was basically interested in answering two big questions about the diversity of life on Earth: 1) why are their so many different kinds of plants and animals? 2) why do plants and animals appear to be so well adapted to their environments? - Put another way: why do plants and animals seem to act like they know what they’re doing? Prerequisites to Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection * Discovery and acceptance of the great antiquity of the Earth * Acceptance that the Earth and its life forms were formed by natural processes that are still observable in the present * Specifying a process by which life forms might change over time, across generations - Process: a systematic series of actions that result in some end Discovery and acceptance of the antiquity of the Earth * Previously, it had been thought the Earth had existed in a steady state for only about 6000 years - Based on genealogical calculations from the book of Genesis ~ counted all the ‘begats’ * Similarly, it was thought that all the species on Earth had been created at beginning of the world and had existed unchanged ever since - 6000 years = little time for change The discovery of fossils and ancient artifacts in Europe challenged this view * Fossils of animals that no longer existed (dinosaurs), or were no longer found in Europe (mammoths, rhinoceros) were recognized by the early 1700s - Recognition that fossils are actually remains of animals from the past
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Lecture_02_Ev_theory0-1 - 8/24/2006 Lecture 2 Evolutionary...

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