What is Evolution?
Evolution sounds complicated, but all it really means is change in a population of plants or animals over time. This happens because organisms inherit some of their characteristics from their parents through DNA, as generations pass some characteristics are passed on more than others, and so the population as a whole slowly changes.
This can happen by chance, so if only one rabbit in your population had red fur and it fell in a river, then you may
no-longer have any more red rabbits.
However, the evolution that we normally think of when we think of how rabbits came to be so good at running, or fish at swimming, is evolution by natural selection. Here some inherited characteristics, or traits, help their owners survive better than others. If their owners survive, they can pass these traits on, and so they become more common.
So, the important components for evolution are:
Variation – not all individuals are exactly the same, they have differences.
Heritability – these differences can be passed from parent to offspring.
Natural selection – not everyone in the populations has an equal number of offspring.
Time – evolution cannot happen in a single generation, it only occurs between generations.
In our workshops we focus on demonstrating all these aspects, and the consequences of them that we can see in the world around us.
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More about evolution
BBC Earth: David Attenborough explaining the tree of life
Natural selection explained simply
What is evolution?
Richard Dawkins explains evolution and natural selection
Websites & articles:
Darwin Correspondence Project
Laland et al (2014):
Does evolutionary theory need a rethink?
Nature education: Evolution
Books & articles:
Scott, Katie: The Story of Life. Templar Press. 2001.
Richard Dawkins: The Selfish Gene. Oxford University Press. 2006.
Losos, Jonathan: Improbable destinies. Penguin Books. 2017.