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Why Darwin Rocks!. Why is Darwin such a big deal? Darwin developed a scientific theory of biological evolution that explains how modern organisms evolved.

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Presentation on theme: "Why Darwin Rocks!. Why is Darwin such a big deal? Darwin developed a scientific theory of biological evolution that explains how modern organisms evolved."— Presentation transcript:

1 Why Darwin Rocks!

2 Why is Darwin such a big deal? Darwin developed a scientific theory of biological evolution that explains how modern organisms evolved over long periods of time through descent from common ancestors.

3 Who was Darwin? –Charles Darwin was born in England on February 12, He grew up at a time when the scientific view of the natural world was shifting dramatically. –Geologists were suggesting that Earth was ancient and had changed over time, and biologists were suggesting that life on Earth had also changed.

4 So what started this whole Natural Selection business? –Darwin was invited to sail on the HMS Beagle’s five-year voyage mapping the coastline of South America. –Darwin planned to collect specimens of plants and animals on the voyage. He was an excellent natural historian.

5 What did he see at sea? –Darwin filled his notebooks with observations about the characteristics and habitats of the different species he saw. –Darwin wanted to explain the biological diversity he observed in a scientific way. He looked for larger patterns into which his observations might fit. –As he traveled, Darwin noticed three distinctive patterns of biological diversity: (1) Species vary globally, (2) species vary locally, and (3) species vary over time.

6 Biodiversity? Species vary globally… –Darwin noticed that different, yet ecologically similar, animal species inhabited separated, but ecologically similar, habitats around the globe

7 Rheas and Ostriches and Emus – Oh My! Rheas look and act a lot like ostriches. Yet rheas live only in South America, and ostriches live only in Africa. When Darwin visited Australia’s grasslands, he found another large flightless bird, the emu.

8 Marsupials vs Mammals  Darwin also noticed that rabbits and other species living in European grasslands were missing from the grasslands of South America and Australia.  Australia’s grasslands were home to kangaroos and other animals that were found nowhere else.

9 Biodiversity? Species vary locally… –Darwin noticed that different, yet related, animal species often occupied different habitats within a local area.

10 Galapagos Darwin was able to observe many species on the Galapagos Islands that exhibited local variation Islands – because they are isolated - are excellent places to watch evolutionary change

11 Tortoises Darwin saw differences among the giant land tortoises that inhabit the islands and learned from the islands’ governor that the tortoises’ shells varied in predictable ways from one island to another. The shape of the tortoises’ shells corresponds to different habitats. Isabela Island tortoiseHood Island tortoise

12 Isabela Island tortoise –Isabela Island has high peaks, is rainy, and has abundant vegetation that is close to the ground. –A tortoise from Isabela Island has a dome- shaped shell and short neck.

13 Hood Island tortoise –Hood Island, in contrast, is flat, dry, and has sparse vegetation. –A long neck and a shell that is curved and open around the neck and legs allow the Hood Island tortoise to reach sparse, high vegetation.

14 Darwin’s Finches

15 Biodiversity? Species vary over time… –Darwin also collected fossils. –Darwin noticed that some fossils of extinct animals were similar to living species.

16 Glyptodonts – grooved or carved tooth One set of fossils unearthed by Darwin belonged to the long-extinct glyptodont, a giant armored animal similar to the armadillo.

17 Did anybody help Darwin? Research and theories of other scientists who were contemporaries of Darwin helped him formulate and shape his theories of evolution Geologists James Hutton and Charles Lyell French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck English economist Thomas Malthus

18 Hutton and Lyell By Darwin’s time, the relatively new science of geology was providing evidence to support new and different ideas about Earth’s history. Hutton and Lyell concluded that Earth is extremely old and that the processes that changed Earth in the past are the same processes that operate in the present. Hutton studied the formation of igneous and sedimentary rocks, and the formation of mountains and canyons Lyell took this information and proposed that the geological earth processes that shaped the earth are the same as the ones today – like earthquakes and colcanic activity This would indicate that the earth is continuously changing

19 And the earth shook… Darwin witnessed an earthquake in South America. The quake lifted a stretch of rocky shoreline more than 3 meters out of the sea—with mussels and other sea animals clinging to it. Darwin observed fossils of marine animals in mountains thousands of feet above sea level. Darwin realized that geological events like the earthquake could cause rocks that had once been beneath the sea to be pushed up into mountains. Darwin asked himself, if Earth can change over time, could life change too?

20 Lamarck’s Theory was a stretch… In 1809, the French naturalist Jean-Baptiste Lamarck proposed the hypothesis that organisms could change during their lifetimes by selectively using or not using various parts of their bodies. He also suggested that individuals could pass these acquired traits on to their offspring, enabling species to change over time.

21 Okay, Jean-Baptiste….good effort… –Today, we know that Lamarck’s hypotheses were incorrect in several ways. –Organisms don’t have an inborn drive to become more perfect. – Evolution does not mean that over time a species becomes “better” somehow – Evolution does not progress in a predetermined direction. –In addition, traits acquired by individuals during their lifetime cannot be passed on to offspring.

22 An exponentially growing problem… In 1798, English economist Thomas Malthus noted that humans were being born faster than people were dying, causing overcrowding. He reasoned that if the human population grew unchecked, there wouldn’t be enough living space and food for everyone.

23 To bee or not to bee… Darwin realized that Malthus’s reasoning applied even more to other organisms than it did to humans. He observed that when organisms reproduce, most offspring die before reaching maturity, and only a few of those that survive manage to reproduce. When Darwin realized that most organisms don’t survive and reproduce, he wondered which individuals survive…and why?

24 “Un-natural” Selection In artificial selection, nature provides the variations, and humans select those they find useful. Breeders knew that individual organisms vary, and that some of this variation could be passed from parents to offspring and used to improve crops and livestock.

25 More “un-natural” selection –Darwin called this selective breeding process artificial selection, a process in which nature provides the variations, and humans select those they find useful. –Darwin put artificial selection to the test by raising and breeding plants and fancy pigeon varieties.

26 So what does this all add up to? 1859 Darwin Published “The Origin of the Species” by means of natural selection…….


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