Related topics: charles darwin

Darwin's magnificent mystery and the microbiome

Vanderbilt researchers are reimagining Charles Darwin's work by communicating how the origin of species might depend largely on the microbiome—the totality of bacteria, viruses, fungi and other organisms—living in or ...

Oxygen shaped the evolution of the eye

Convergent origins of new mechanisms to supply oxygen to the retina were directly linked to concurrent enhancements in the functional anatomy of the eye.

'Be different or die' does not drive evolution

A new study has found that species living together are not forced to evolve differently to avoid competing with each other, challenging a theory that has held since Darwin's Origin of Species.

Bird ancestor reclaims its branch on tree of life

Venerated for 150 years as the forebear of all birds until being relegated two years ago to the common class of winged dinosaurs, the Archaeopteryx was restored to its hallowed branch on the tree of life on Wednesday.

A closer look at the GM debate

In the first chapter of The Origin of Species, Charles Darwin detailed his examinations of the skeletons of a variety of different breeds of domestic pigeons. To agreement today, he concluded that they all descended, by selective ...

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On the Origin of Species

Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species, published 24 November 1859, is a seminal work of scientific literature considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Its full title was On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. For the sixth edition of 1872, the short title was changed to The Origin of Species. Darwin's book introduced the theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection, and presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose through a branching pattern of evolution and common descent. He included evidence that he had accumulated on the voyage of the Beagle in the 1830s, and his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.

Various evolutionary ideas had already been proposed to explain new findings in biology. There was growing support for such ideas among dissident anatomists and the general public, but during the first half of the 19th century the English scientific establishment was closely tied to the Church of England, while science was part of natural theology. Ideas about the transmutation of species were controversial as they conflicted with the beliefs that species were unchanging parts of a designed hierarchy and that humans were unique, unrelated to animals. The political and theological implications were intensely debated, but transmutation was not accepted by the scientific mainstream.

The book was written to be read by non-specialists and attracted widespread interest on its publication. As Darwin was an eminent scientist, his findings were taken seriously and the evidence he presented generated scientific, philosophical, and religious discussion. The debate over the book contributed to the campaign by T.H. Huxley and his fellow members of the X Club to secularize science by promoting scientific naturalism. Within two decades there was widespread scientific agreement that evolution, with a branching pattern of common descent, had occurred, but scientists were slow to give natural selection the significance that Darwin thought appropriate. During the "eclipse of Darwinism" from the 1880s to the 1930s, various other mechanisms of evolution were given more credit. With the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s, Darwin's concept of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection became central to modern evolutionary theory, now the unifying concept of the life sciences.

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