Quiz 2: The Development of Evolutionary Theory


The notion that humans evolved from monkeys is not entirely correct. On the contrary, both species evolved along parallel timelines from a common ancestor. Both humans and monkeys probably evolved around 25 million years ago, as was interpreted from fossil records. The closest genetically related and living species of humans are the chimpanzees, which share around 99% DNA (deoxyribonucleic acid) sequence with humans. The common fallacy that is assumed in these cases is that the early prototype anthropoid primates (from which the new age hominids and apes evolved) are referred to as 'monkeys'. This fallacious perception leads to the thought 'if humans evolved from monkeys, why are there still monkeys'. Because only a small specific population of the early prototype primate gave rise to the lineage that is called as humans, some seem inclined to all monkeys as 'human ancestors'.

Both science and religion tend to polarize audiences when it comes to explaining natural phenomenon since both have contrasting views on the subject. To put in simple terms, science encompasses research and religion relies on belief. Scientific research and scientific methodology were created just for this purpose. However, the natural phenomenon has not been fully understood even with modern advancements. That being said, there is never a direct method to analyze and understand the natural phenomenon. Scientific research is aimed at providing an explanation for the natural phenomena in a slow and gradual manner, and to reach a veritable conclusion takes time. Most of the things we know and understand about nature and natural processes have come through this tedious method of scientific research. Religion, as mentioned previously, relies on its members to have faith and belief in a deity, which is responsible for the acts of performing all the natural processes and phenomenon. However, there is no one book in either science or religion that can explain the entire natural phenomenon. In terms of evolution, there are definitely contrasting ideologies from both science and religion. Neither books on evolution (on the origin of species), nor religious texts have been completely successful in explaining the diversities in life forms, the origin of common ancestors and the presence of common characters in all organisms.

Natural selection is the process by, which populations having desirable characters get selected against environmental pressures, and those who fail to adapt to the changing environment do not survive. The surviving members of the population pass on these traits to the next generation. Natural selection is one of the processes by, which the evolution occurs. Perhaps one of the best examples of natural selection is that of the Biston moth. The Biston moth comprises of two species, one with the light colored wing, and one with dark colored wings. The light coloured wing was better adapted to lichen covered tree barks, whereas the black one was not. With the advent of the industrial revolution, soot deposition on bark made the light colored moth more susceptible to preying, whereas the black one could camouflage better. Other examples include the presence of a caecum in rabbits that help in hind gut fermentation and help rabbits in digesting their food better. Natural selection is not intended on going for the optimum adaptation, it only goes to what works. As compared to natural selection, artificial selection (also called as selective breeding encompasses selecting specific varieties of plants and animals through human intervention. Artificial breeding is the traditional method of improving milk yield of livestock and improving the yield of agricultural crops. More recently, plant breeding has been carried alongside molecular biotechnology to improve the quality and quantity of the plants and their products. One of the best-known examples of artificial selection is that of BT (Bacillus thuringiensis) cotton. This particular variety has been bred in such a way that it produces superior quality cotton, along with being resistant to pests and insects. Artificial selection has also been employed to increase oil yield in jatropha plant, which is seen as a potential source of biodiesel. Other examples of artificial selection include breeding dogs and horses for obtaining particular coat color, flowers for the color of petal and poultry for meat. These characters, while desirable to humans, may not always give an advantageous edge for the survival of the organisms.