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Evolution through natural selection

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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.

At the end of this free course you should know 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.
  • Natural selection is one of several processes that can bring about evolution, although it can also promote stability rather than change.
  • 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.
  • The three necessary and sufficient conditions for natural selection to occur are: (1) a struggle for existence; (2) variation; and (3) inheritance.
  • Endler's experiment with guppies demonstrated that evolution through natural selection can occur in relatively few generations.
  • Mutation is the ultimate source of variation.
  • The frequency of a particular character in a particular population may be due to chance events.

By: The Open University

  • Duration 4 hours
  • Updated Tuesday 15th April 2014
  • Introductory level
  • Posted under Natural History
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Evolution through natural selection

Introduction

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In this unit, 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 unit is from our archive and is an adapted extracted from Discovering science (S103) which is no longer taught by The Open University. If you want to study formally with us, you may wish to explore other courses we offer in this subject area [Tip: hold Ctrl and click a link to open it in a new tab. (Hide tip)] .

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