BIO152H5 Chapter Notes - Chapter 24: Scalea, Point Mutation, Special Creation

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Published on 31 Jan 2013
Notes From Reading
Key Concepts
- Populations and species evolve, meaning that their characteristics change through time.
More precisely, evolution is defined as changes in allele frequencies over time.
- Natural selection occurs when individuals with certain alleles produce the most offspring in
a population. An adaptation is a genetically based trait that increases an individual’s ability
to produce offspring in a particular environment.
- Evolution by natural selection is not progressive, and it does not change the characteristics
of the individuals that are selected it changes only the characteristics of the population.
Animals do not do things for the good of the species, and not all traits are adaptive. All
adaptations are constrained by trade-offs as well as genetic and historical factors.
- Scientific theories are often made up of observations about a natural pattern and a
proposed process that explains that pattern.
- In the theory of evolution by natural selection, Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in
1858 made the claim that evolution has occurred, that species have changed through time.
Then they proposed natural selection as a process to explain the pattern of evolution.
- Evolution by natural selection has become one of the best-supported and most important
theories in the history of scientific research.
24.1 The Evolution of Evolutionary Thought
- The Greek philosopher Plato claimed that every organism was an example of a perfect
essence or type created by God and that these types were unchanging.
- Aristotle ordered these types of organisms into a linear scheme called the great chain of
being. In this chain, species were organized into a sequence based on increasing size and
complexity, with humans at the top.
- This theory of special creation led to typological thinking, in which species are thought of as
unchanging types and variations are considered unimportant.
- In 1809 Jean-Baptiste de Lamarck was the first to propose a formal theory of evolution.
- He proposed that simple organisms originate at the base of the great chain of being by
spontaneous generation and then evolve by moving up the chain over time.
- Lamarck suggested that the process responsible for this pattern was the inheritance of
acquired characters. His idea was that individuals change in response to their environment
and then pass on those changes to their offspring.
- Darwin and Wallace proposed that change in species through time does not follow a linear,
progressive pattern but instead is based on variation among individuals in populations.
- A population consists of individuals of the same species that are living in the same area at
the same time.
- Darwin and Wallace proposed that evolution occurs because of natural selectionthe
process by which individuals in a population with certain heritable traits tend to produce
more offspring than do individuals without those traits, leading to changes in the makeup of
the population.
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Notes From Reading
24.2 The Pattern of Evolution: Have Species Changed through Time?
- Darwin described evolution as descent with modification, meaning that change over time
produced modern species from ancestral species.
- The pattern component of the theory of evolution by natural selection makes two claims
about the nature of species:
- (1) they change through time, and
- (2) they are related by common ancestry.
Evidence for Change through Time
- Fossils are traces of organisms that lived in the past.
- The many fossils that have been found and described in the scientific literature make up the
fossil record.
- Most fossils are found in sedimentary rocks, which form from layers of sand or mud.
- Layers of sedimentary rock are associated with different intervals in the geologic time
scalea relative time scale based upon fossil content.
- Geologic time is divided into eons, eras, periods, and epochs.
- Researchers now have used radioactive isotopes to assign absolute ages to the geologic
time scale.
- Geologic data show that Earth is about 4.6 billion years old.
- The earliest signs of life are found in rocks about 3.4 billion years old.
- Many fossils provide evidence for extinct species, those that are no longer living.
- Darwin interpreted extinction as evidence that species are dynamic. He reasoned that if
species have gone extinct, then the array of species living on Earth has changed through
Traditional Forms
- Early scientists observed that extinct fossil species are typically succeeded, in the same
region, by similar living species; Figure 24.4a shows an example with sloths. This pattern
became known as the law of succession.
- Darwin interpreted this as evidence that extinct forms and living forms are related, that they
represent ancestors and descendents.
- As the fossil record has become more complete, many transitional forms have been
discovered with traits that are intermediate between earlier and later species.
- Figure 24.4b shows an example from the ancestry of whales.
- These transitional forms provide strong evidence for change through time.
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