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Natural Selection

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Evolution and Adaptation

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Natural Selection

Life Science

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The process of natural selection is explained and described as a component of Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

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Now You Know

After completing this tutorial, you will be able to complete the following:

  • Explain that Charles Darwin identified natural selection as a component of evolution.
  • Explain that natural selection is a process in which favorable heritable traits become more common in successive generations of a population of reproducing organisms.
  • Explain that in natural selection, organisms change over time.

Everything You'll Have Covered

Based on the findings of Charles Darwin, evolution is the scientific theory that describes the genetic changes of organisms that occur over generations resulting in how well a species survives within a given environment. One of the most revolutionary part of Darwin's theory about evolution, is a process called natural selection.

Darwin, also called the "Father of Evolution," based his scientific ideas on a specific theory he labeled natural selection. This concept was first given light when Darwin himself conducted a research project in the Galápagos Islands. He discovered on the islands that there were 14 different species of finches that all looked relatively similar except for such features as their beaks and head shape. He believed that it was highly unlikely that each of these finches was created individually, but rather they evolved from a common finch ancestor from Ecuador. His findings on the islands provided evidence of his theory for natural selection. Darwin believed that within a given population, some organisms would have advantages over other organisms within that same species. For example, longer legs, stronger arms, or keener eyesight would all provide an animal with advantages over others that did not possess these same characteristics. Theoretically, these advantages would then be passed down to their offspring. This would enable the next generation to have a greater chance of surviving within their natural environment.

Natural selection created an overwhelming acceptance of evolution by scientists in the mid 1930's. This exceptional theory was then paired with Mendelian inheritance to create the modern evolutionary synthesis, which Mendelian coined in the 1850's. This combination researches the biologic change over time that is natural selection with the genetic theory of passing traits to offspring as described by Mendelian inheritance. These two forces have become the basis for modern biology as it is written today. It is this idea that science uses to raise questions and speculate about the Earth's rich history of organisms. It gives explanation and acknowledgement to unknown species that existed on Earth millions of years ago. Through this principle, science is able to accept, without doubt, the vast diversity of life on Earth.

Tutorial Details

Approximate Time 20 Minutes
Pre-requisite Concepts None
Course Life Science
Type of Tutorial Concept Development
Key Vocabulary artificial selection, blue jay, Charles Darwin