Charles Darwin: Evolution and the Story of Our Species
10 Historical Perspectives
Explaining the Diversity of Life
For Grades: 9-12
Learning Goal 1
The theory of natural selection grew out of efforts to determine how species change over time.
Learning Goal 2a
Prior to the 1800s, the most widespread belief was that all known species were created and remained unchanged throughout history.
Learning Goal 2b
By the mid-1800s, some scientists believed that species evolved from earlier species.
Learning Goal 3
Darwin argued that certain biologically inherited characteristics give an organism an advantage in surviving and reproducing compared to other organisms of the same species. The offspring would also inherit and pass on those advantages, and over generations the accumulation of these inherited advantages would lead to a new species.
Learning Goal 4
Darwin published his theory in the mid-1800s in Origin of Species. Its dramatic effect on biology can be traced to his use of clear and understandable argument, the inclusion of a massive array of evidence to support the argument, comparison of natural selection to the selective breeding of animals in wide use at the time, and the utility of the theory as a unifying framework for guiding future research.
Learning Goal 5
A mechanism that explained the origin of variation within species was suggested by several lines of evidence: findings from Gregor Mendel's experiments on the inheritance of traits in plants, the identification of genes and how they are sorted in reproduction, and the discovery of the mutability and near universality of the genetic code found in DNA.
Learning Goal 6ab
By the 1900s, nearly all scientists had accepted Darwin's basic idea of evolution through natural selection. Today, scientists continue to work out the details of the evolutionary history of specific organisms.
Learning Goal 6c
The lack of acceptance of scientific arguments for natural selection by some members of the general public has been affected by their discomfort with its implications, such as the relation of humans to other animals, and their religious beliefs about when and how the world and living things in it were created.