Darwinian Evolution
Theory of biological evolution by natural selection based on the insights of Charles Darwin.

Darwin observed that individuals in any population are variable, and this variation can be inherited. But because organisms have the potential to increase in numbers far in excess of the environment's capacity to support all of them, those individuals with traits that increase their chances of survival and reproduction will leave more offspring. Natural selection thus determines which individuals successfully leave offspring for the next generation ("Survival of the Fittest"). Over thousands of generations these small changes can produce very large changes, and this can account not only for the advent of new species but ultimately for entirely new major clades, up to and including whole kingdoms of life, so that a single self-replicating organism can, given enough time, give rise to the diversity of a natural biosphere.

During the early Atomic Age and onwards Darwinism (also called Neodarwinism and the Modern Synthesis) incorporated the Mendelian theory of inheritance, and, later, genetic mutation (De Vries). Random mutation causes subtle, occasionally dramatic, variations in genes, hence greater genetic diversity. Some members of these diverse populations are better able to survive and reproduce, thus passing on their genes and the traits that follow from them and changing the nature of the population. The Modern Synthesis, based on advances in statistics, and a better understanding of the modes of inheritance than was available in Darwin's day, expanded the original insights of Darwin, and has remained a cornerstone of biology.

Related Articles
  • Artificial Evolution, Autoevolution - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Directed evolution, evolution guided by intelligent beings using artificial selection, controlled environments, gengineering, bionano, or other such means. Contrast with evolution left to natural selection. Sometimes called autoevolution when intelligent beings apply it to themselves.
  • Coevolution - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Two or more organisms experiencing evolution in response to one another. This may result in a biological arms race, or it could produce a symbiotic relationship.
  • Convergent Evolution - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    When a trait develops independently in two or more evolutionary sequences or groups of organisms; e.g. the development of skin-flap wings in pterodactyls and bats. Mathematically, this refers to dynamic systems settling into an attractor.
  • Darwin (Life-bearing World)
  • Darwin, Clade
  • Darwingoo
  • Darwinia - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    System in NuiHibbert Plexus, Zoeific Biopolity.
  • Darwinian AI
  • Evolution (biology)
  • Evolution (esoterics)
  • Evolution (philosophy)
  • Evolution (sophontology)
  • Evolutionary Track - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    The change in location of a star on the Hertzsprung - Russell (H-R) Diagram. As a star ages and evolves, you can trace out its history on the H-R diagram.
  • Evolutionary Tree - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Phylogenetic or cladistic diagram tracing ancestry-descent, branching, cross-links of genetic/informational and morphotypic exchange, and other factors in order to provide a complete and usually multi-parameter diagram of the evolutionary history of any taxon. A beautiful collection of evolutionary trees can be seen in the great Phylogeny Orbitals of Darwinia (NuiHibbert Sector, Zoeific Biopolity).
  • Lamarckian Evolution
  • Macroevolution
  • Megaevolution - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Dramatic evolutionary change, for example the appearance of new phyla or even kingdoms of organisms. An example is the Cambrian explosion on old Earth. Natural megaevolution only occurs infrequently (often no more than once or several times on a Garden World), but gengineers and biosculptors frequently create radical new organisms by biotech and bionano means.
  • Microevolution - Text by M. Alan Kazlev
    Morphologic change through natural selection within a species, leading eventually to the evolution of a new species. Most common through genetic drift of small populations on individual habitats. Wild bionano can also encourage microevolution, even among large population pools. Microevolution eventually results in macroevolution.
Appears in Topics
Development Notes
Text by M. Alan Kazlev and Peter Kisner
modified by Stephen Inniss
Initially published on 09 October 2001.