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Chapter 1

Chapter 1 Textbook Notes - Science and Evolution
Chapter 1 Textbook Notes - Science and Evolution

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University of Toronto Mississauga
Esteban Parra

Notes From Reading CHAPTER 1:S CIENCE AND EVOLUTION (PGS.11-31) Introduction - Biological anthropology is an evolutionary science focused on human biological origins, evolution and variation Characteristics of Science - It is important to understand exactly what a science is and what the relationship between facts, hypotheses, and theories is Facts - Evolution is both fact and theory - A fact is a verifiable truth – Evolution is a fact - Living organisms have changed in the past, and continue to change today Hypotheses - Hypothesis – An explanation of observed facts - For a hypothesis to be scientific, it must be testable o The potential must exist for a hypothesis to be rejected Theories - Theory – A set of hypotheses that have been tested repeatedly and that have not been rejected. This term is sometimes used in a difference sense in social science literature - Evolution is both a fact and a theory The Development of Evolutionary Theory - Scientific research is a dynamic process, which new evidence being used to support, clarify, and most importantly, reject previous ideas - Charles Darwin is most often credited as the “father of evolutionary thought” o He built on the ideas of earlier scholars Pre-Darwinian Thought - In Western thought, the universe, earth and all living creatures were regarded as having been created by God in their present form, showing little change over many generations - The view of the universe through the lens of biblical interpretation gave way to the rise of science and the scientific method during the European Renaissance and the Age of Reason - In the mid to late 1600s, the minister John Ray argued for a scientific system of comparisons among organisms and was the first to define and use the terms genus and species - Carolus Linnaeus complied one of the first formal taxonomies of all living organisms o Taxonomy – The science of describing and classifying organisms o Linnaeus also gave organisms a name reflecting their genus and species o Species – A group of populations whose members can interbreed naturally and produce fertile offspring o Genus – groups of species with similar adaptations - The reason for the relationship among organisms, was not often addressed by early natural historians th th o He world began to change in the 18 and 19 centuries as excavations began to produce man fossils that did not fit neatly into the classification systems o Excavations also uncovered fossil remnants of truly unusual creatures (dinosaurs) - Georges Cuvier analyzed many of the fossil remains found in quarries o Showed that many of these belonged to animals that no longer existed (extinct) o He used a hypothesis called catastrophism to explain these extinctions o The hypothesis posited a series of catastrophes in the planet’s past during which many living creatures were destroyed o Problem: it does nIn ot explain where organisms from other regions came from Notes From Reading CHAPTER 1:SCIENCE AND EVOLUTION (PGS.11-31) o Some interpreted his idea of catastrophism as a sequence of creations and extinctions - Jean-Baptiste Lamarck explicitly attempted an explanation of evolution o Believed that the environment would affect the future shape and organization of animals o He was quite astute in noticing the relationship between organisms, their environment and evolution Uniformitarianism and Geologic Time - In earlier times, it was generally thought that the earth was young, with age estimates based on biblical interpretations - James Hutton developed the idea of uniformitarianism o Uniformitarianism – The observation that the geologic processes that operate in the world today is also operates in the past (ie. erosion or continental drift) o This important principle means that we can study the world around us in the present and use what we see to make inferences about the past - Charles Lyell took the idea of uniformitarianism and provided considerable geologic evidence for a slowly changing earth o Geological research was showing that the earth was much older than several thousand years o Based on a variety of physical and chemical methods, the earth is 4.6 billion years old o The work of Lyell also suggested that small biological processes could add up over time to produce considerable evolutionary change o Lyell’s work greatly influenced the key figure in the history of evolutionary thought – Charles Darwin Charles Darwin and Natural Selection - As he was an unpaid naturalist with the Beagle, he conducted a five-year journey around the world collecting plant and animal specimens - Darwin found a tremendous amount of observable variation in most living species o Saw that individuals within species varied considerably from place to place - Darwin also noted that the variations he saw made sense in terms of the environment o Creatures in cold climates had fur for protection o Organisms appear well adapted to specific environments - Malthus is best known for extrapolating the principle of population growth into human terms - To Darwin, the work of Malthus provided him the needed information to solve the problem of adaptation and evolution o Not all individuals in a species survive and reproduce - Darwin saw that nature (the environment) could select those individuals that survived and reproduced o Natural Selection – A mechanism for evolutionary change favoring the survival and reproduction of some organisms over others because of their biological characteristics o Darwin further argued that small changes due to natural selection could add up over long periods to produce the diversity of species we see in the world today - Alfred Russel Wallace essentially also came up with the same idea set forward by Darwin o They communicated their ideas to each other and first presented the theory of natural selection in a joint paper o Many
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