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Chapter 2

Chapter 2 Summary and Defs Understanding Humans

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Western University
Anthropology 1026F/G
Andrew Nelson

Chapter TwoThe Development of Evolutionary Theory Our current understanding of evolutionary processes is directly traceable to developments in intellectual thought in Western Europe over the last 300 yearsMany people contributed to this shift in perspective Linnaeus placed humans in the same taxonomic scheme of all other animals Lamarck and Buffon both recognized that species could change in response to environmental circumstances but Lamarck also attempted to explain how the changes occurred and proposed the idea of inheritance of acquired characteristics which was later discredited Lyell in his theory of uniformitarianiam provided the necessary expanse of time for evolution to occur and Malthus discussed how population size is kept in check by the availability of resources Darwin and Wallace influenced by their predecessors independently recognized that because of competition for resources individuals with favourable characteristics tend to survive and pass those traits on to offspring and that those lacking beneficial traits produce fewer offspring if they survive to reproductive age at all This states that over time advantageous characteristics accumulate in a population because they have been selected for while disadvantageous ones are eliminated or selected against and this in a nutshell is the theory of evolution by means of natural selection Definitions Natural Selectionthe most critical mechanism of evolutionary change that was first articulated by Charles Darwin refers to genetic change or changes in the frequencies of certain traits in populations due to differential reproductive success between individuals Fixity of Speciesthe notion that species once created can never change an idea diametrically opposed to theorie
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