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Darwin s Dangerous Idea The Struggle for Existence, Natural Selection & Descent With Modification – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Darwin

Darwins Dangerous Idea
  • The Struggle for Existence, Natural Selection
    Descent With Modification

Who Was Charles Darwin?
  • Born in 1809 to a wealthy English family
  • A below-average student at school
  • Trained as a doctor, but dropped-out
  • Trained eventually as a country clergyman
  • Loved travel the outdoors
  • You care for nothing but shooting, dogs and
    rat-catching, and you will be a disgrace to
    yourself and all your family! (Darwins dad!)

Darwins Travels
  • In 1831, aged 22, Darwin was invited to join a
    5yr round-the-world expedition as an unpaid
    naturalist on HMS Beagle

Woe unto ye, beetles of South America
The Galapagos Islands
Darwin was amazed that any wildlife had reached
such a remote place, and suspected that the ALL
the birds, plants and animals had arrived during
the past from the mainland
Galapagos Wildlife
Finches every island had a variety of finches,
each with different size beaks, adapted to eating
different sized seeds. One type was usually more
common on each island. Were they all descended
from one ancestral finch?
Tortoises each island, and even specific
mountains within an island, had a tortoise with a
unique shell shape. Were they all descended from
one ancestral tortoise?
Darwins Idea
In the same way that dog-breeders and farmers
altered the appearance of animals by careful
breeding (Artificial Selection), Darwin proposed
that there was also a NATURAL mechanism which
accomplished the same thing in nature
The Origin of Species
  • Darwin knew that his ideas were controversial
    most scientists of the day believed that each
    organism was specially created and fixed in
    its form. He was very reluctant to publicize his
  • In 1858, after reading about Wallaces research
    in the Malay Archipelago, Darwin decided to go
    public with his dangerous idea
  • In 1859, Darwin published his ideas in a book
    called On the Origin of Species by means of
    Natural Selection, or the Preservation of
    Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life

5 Points of Darwins Theory
  • Individual organisms differ, and some of this
    variation is heritable (offspring tend to look
    similar to their parents)
  • Organisms produce more offspring than can
    survive, and many survivors do not reproduce
  • Because more organisms are produced than can
    survive, they compete for resources (Struggle
    for Existence)
  • Individuals best-suited to their environment
    survive (Survival of the Fittest) and reproduce
    most successfully. These individuals then pass
    on their heritable traits to their offspring
    (Natural Selection).
  • ALL species alive today are therefore descended
    with modification from ancestral species that
    lived in the distant past. This process unites
    ALL organisms on Earth into a single tree of life.

Darwins original ideas on how organisms might
have descended from each other
The Public Reaction
  • Many scientists were appalled at the idea of
    humans evolving from ancestral apes. A fierce
    debate ensued.
  • Research in geology, paleontology, biogeography
    and breeding continued, as scientists sought to
    either confirm or reject Darwins hypotheses

Darwins Legacy
  • There is a grandeur in this view of
    life,thatfrom so simple a beginning, endless
    forms so beautiful and wonderful have been and
    are being evolved
  • This belief has fuelled research on every
    continent for over 100 years
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