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born in Shrewsbury,
England, in 1809
studied medicine at
Edinburgh University
(1825-1827) where the
sight of blood and
surgery without
anesthetics repulsed him
studied to become a
clergyman at Cambridge
University (1827-1831)
After Cambridge, Charles was recommended
for a surveying trip on the HMS Beagle.
Darwin sailed around the world on the
Beagle for 5 years, working as a naturalist.
Darwin made many
observations and
collected evidence
on his voyage that
led to his theory
about the way life
At the time Darwin made
his trip, the majority of
people believed the
Earth and all of its forms
of life had been created
only a few thousand
years in the past.
People also believed that the Earth had not
changed during those few thousand years.
People also believed in fixity of species; in other
words, species never changed.
The first dinosaur to be described
scientifically was Megalosaurus
by William Buckland in 1824.
After careful
observation and
study of new
Darwin began to
think otherwise.
The Father of Geology
Darwin was influenced
by geologist James
Hutton’s writings that
described geologic
forces he thought had
changed and were still
changing the earth.
Hutton proposed that
the Earth had to be
much more than a few
thousand years old.
Darwin was also
influenced by
geologist Charles
Lyell who wrote
Principia Geologica.
Lyell’s book proposed
that tremendous
geologic processes
had shaped the Earth
such as seen in
volcanoes active in
the present.
On the voyage,
Darwin noticed
that everywhere he
went, the animals
and plants differed
Patterns in the species
suggested that the
species had changed
over time and had given
rise to new and different
Many of Darwin’s
conclusions were
based on
observations of
wildlife in the
Galapagos Islands.
The Galapagos
Islands lie 500 miles
west of Ecuador in
the Pacific Ocean,
directly on the
“Galapagos” means turtle.
Darwin noticed on
these islands,
there were several
types of finches.
What it must have been
like to be Darwin…
In particular,
Darwin observed
something odd
about the
finches: they all
looked like a
bird he had seen
on the South
Darwin wondered if the birds and other
animals had been created to match their
environment, why didn’t these birds look like
the birds of the African continent, since the
environments of both the Galapagos and
Africa were similar.
Darwin guessed that
some of the birds
from South America
migrated to the
Once on the islands,
the birds must have
changed over the
large ground
cactus finch
This would explain the numerous species of
birds present.
Darwin concluded:
Each species has descended, with changes,
from other species over time.
Darwin called this…
Descent With Modifications
(change in species over time)
Darwin based his theory
on his own observations
and the writings of
Thomas Malthus.
Malthus was a British
social scientist who
proposed theories on
factors controlling
population growth:
People have more children than are
able to survive.
There are built-in population checks:
disease, famine, and war.
Darwin extended these
principles to biology, which
helped him form his theory of…
…or Survival of the Fittest.
Natural selection was the
mechanism by which
Darwin proposed that
evolution took place.
Darwin published his
theory in the book
Five basic components of
1. All species have genetic variation.
Every species is different,
even within itself.
Look around you…are
you all the same?
2. Organisms produce more offspring than
can survive. Many that survive do not
produce offspring.
The female green sea turtle lays a clutch of about
110 eggs. She may lay several clutches.
It is likely that less than 1%
of the hatchlings will ever
reach sexual maturity.
3. Since more organisms are produced than
can survive, there is competition (struggle for
Competition exists WITHIN and AMONG species.
Within and Among Species for
And Within a Species for
The constant struggle for survival is affected by
short-term natural disasters. (drought, fires,
floods, snowstorms, hurricanes, and tornadoes)
The constant struggle for survival
is also affected by long-term
changes in the environment. (ice
ages, biome shifts, etc)
4. Survival of the fittest Some organisms
are more suited to their environment as a
result of variations in the species.
Fitness: the ability of an individual to
survive and reproduce in its specific
environment. Fitness is a result of adaptations.
Individuals that are fit to their environment
survive and leave more offspring than those
who aren’t.
He who spreads the most genes wins!
5. Descent with modification: Living species
today are descended with modifications from
common ancestral species that lived in the
Characteristics of fit individuals
increase in a population over time.
Over time, genes for less
favored characteristics will be
eliminated from the gene pool.
Example: giraffes and their
increasingly longer necks.
Natural Selection: Survival of the Fittest
An adaptation is any inherited characteristic
(a genetic variation) that can increase an
organism’s chance of survival.
variation exists
An the
not change
because of need or desire to
the environment changes.
survive. The organism either
a variation
an advantage
survive environmental
it to survive
or it dies.
As the environment changes, organisms must
have variations that allow them to survive
(adapt) to those changes or die
If an entire population of
a species cannot adapt,
that species becomes
There have been at least 5 MASS extinctions
during Earth’s history where a huge % of the
living species were destroyed
At least one of
these has been
attributed to
meteor impact and
Many scientists
say that the
earth is
experiencing a
mass extinction
It is estimated that 1/5 or more of the world’s
species will become extinct if the rainforests
are destroyed.
If we are in a period of mass extinction . . .
What animals will your grandchildren be able
to see in the wild?
Visit the World
Wildlife Fund website
for more information
on endangered
Photos by MartinHarvey
World Wildlife
Fund International
Davis, Donald E. “Meteor Impact”. (Also public domain from NASA.)
No date. Online image with permission. Dinosaurs and Their
Extinction. June 10, 2004.
“Snow Alaska”. No date. Online image. Public Domain. Mineral
Management Service. June 10, 2004.
“Clearcut in Cameroon Rainforest”. No date. Online image. June 11,
2004. Earth Crash Earth Spirit.
Harvey, Martin. No date. Online image. World Wildlife Fund. June 11,
2004. <>
“Allosaur”. No date. Online image. Public Domain. Dinosaur National
Monument. National Park Service. June 10, 2004.