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On the Origin of Species | Quotes


The laws governing inheritance are for the most part unknown.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 1

While Darwin was able to describe how species variation occurs, he did not realize the mechanism was genetic inheritance.


The key is man's power of accumulative selection.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 1

A large portion of Darwin's work is spent describing how domestication occurs using the theory of natural selection.


The forms of life throughout the universe become divided into groups subordinate to groups.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 2

The previous categorization system of species focused on arbitrary categories. Darwin argues species should be classified based on ancestry instead.


The vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 3

Darwin refers to the fundamental principle of natural selection—only organisms and populations with adaptive benefits will survive.


Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 4

While domestication is the result of human selection to acquire specific traits, Darwin argues nature does not select a "perfect" suite of traits for visual pleasure. Rather, nature selects traits that benefit the organism.


Modifications will add to the beautiful and harmonious diversity of nature.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 5

Variations based on natural selection result in beautiful outcomes.


The crust of the earth is a vast museum.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 6

Here Darwin refers to the fossil record found in the earth's crust, emphasizing the record is not perfect. As a result, the record of species evolution is also imperfect.


I have sometimes felt great difficulty in understanding the origin ... of parts of little importance.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 6

Darwin claims in many cases, certain organisms have characteristics that serve no purpose.


To admit all this is ... to enter into the realms of miracle, and ... leave ... Science.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 7

Based on the evidence, it makes no sense to reject the theory of natural selection when considered from a scientific viewpoint.


It harmonizes ... with the view that there is no essential distinction between species and varieties.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 9

The lack of differences between species and varieties emphasizes the difficulties inherent in defining a species.


Parallel succession of ... life throughout the world, is explicable on the theory of natural selection.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 11

In many cases the variations Darwin argues exist are explained by the theory of natural selection in contrast to previous theories.


This wonderful relationship in the same continent between the dead and the living.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 11

The connection between fossil species and modern species in the same region supports Darwin's theory of natural selection.


There is a striking parallelism in the laws of life throughout time and space.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 13

The laws of uniformitarianism can be applied to both geological and natural processes. This allows natural selection to occur over long time periods.


Extinction ... has played an important part in defining and widening the intervals between ... groups.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 14

Extinction helps to define separate species—those with adaptive benefits are more likely to survive.


From so simple a beginning endless forms ... are being evolved.

Charles Darwin, Chapter 15

Evolution is a continuous process that began with the first single-celled organisms.

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