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In this free course, Evolution through natural selection, we describe the theory of evolution by natural selection as proposed by Charles Darwin in his book, first published in 1859, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. We will look at natural selection as Darwin did, taking inheritance for granted, but ignoring the mechanisms underlying it.
After studying this course, you should be able to:
- understand that by biological evolution we mean that many of the organisms that inhabit the Earth today are different from those that inhabited it in the past
- understand that natural selection is one of several processes that can bring about evolution, although it can also promote stability rather than change
- understand that the four propositions underlying Darwin's theory of evolution through natural selection are: (1) more individuals are produced than can survive; (2) there is therefore a struggle for existence; (3) individuals within a species show variation; and (4) offspring tend to inherit their parents’ characters
- understand that the three necessary and sufficient conditions for natural selection to occur are: (1) a struggle for existence; (2) variation; and (3) inheritance
- understand that Endler's experiment with guppies demonstrated that evolution through natural selection can occur in relatively few generations.
- Current section: Introduction
- Learning outcomes
- 1 Charles Darwin
- 2 Darwin and natural selection
- 3 Natural selection in the guppy
- 4 Other influences on evolution
- Keep on learning
Study this free course
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Evolution through natural selection
In this , we describe the theory of evolution by natural selection as proposed by Charles Darwin in his book, first published in 1859, On The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. We will look at natural selection as Darwin did, taking inheritance for granted, but ignoring the mechanisms underlying it.
This OpenLearn course provides a sample of level 1 study in
This free course includes adapted extracts from an Open University course which is no longer available to new students. If you found this interesting you could explore more free Natural History courses or view the range of currently available OU Natural History courses.
Copyright & revisions
Originally published: Wednesday, 16th March 2016
Last updated on: Wednesday, 16th March 2016
- Creative-Commons: The Open University is proud to release this free course under a Creative Commons licence. However, any third-party materials featured within it are used with permission and are not ours to give away. These materials are not subject to the Creative Commons licence. See terms and conditions. Full details can be found in the Acknowledgements and our FAQs section.
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