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BIO 1020 Assignment Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

BIO 1020 Assignment Darwin’s Theory of Evolution

 

Darwinism is a theory of biological evolution developed by the English naturalist Charles Darwin (1809–1882) and others, stating that all species of organisms arise and develop through the natural selection of small, inherited variations that increase the individual’s ability to compete, survive, and reproduce. Also called Darwinian theory, it originally included the broad concepts of transmutation of species or of evolution which gained general scientific acceptance after Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859, including concepts which predated Darwin’s theories. English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the term Darwinism in April 1860.[1]

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Darwinism subsequently referred to the specific concepts of natural selection, the Weismann barrier, or the central dogma of molecular biology.[2] Though the term usually refers strictly to biological evolution, creationists have appropriated it to refer to the origin of life or to cosmic evolution, that are distinct to biological evolution.[3] It is therefore considered the belief and acceptance of Darwin’s and of his predecessors’ work, in place of other concepts, including divine design and extraterrestrial origins.[4][5]

English biologist Thomas Henry Huxley coined the term Darwinism in April 1860.[6] It was used to describe evolutionary concepts in general, including earlier concepts published by English philosopher Herbert Spencer. Many of the proponents of Darwinism at that time, including Huxley, had reservations about the significance of natural selection, and Darwin himself gave credence to what was later called Lamarckism. The strict neo-Darwinism of German evolutionary biologist August Weismann gained few supporters in the late 19th century. During the approximate period of the 1880s to about 1920, sometimes called “the eclipse of Darwinism“, scientists proposed various alternative evolutionary mechanisms which eventually proved untenable. The development of the modern synthesis in the early 20th century, incorporating natural selection with population genetics and Mendelian genetics, revived Darwinism in an updated form.[7]

While the term Darwinism has remained in use amongst the public when referring to modern evolutionary theory, it has increasingly been argued by science writers such as Olivia JudsonEugenie Scott, and Carl Safina that it is an inappropriate term for modern evolutionary theory.[8][9][10] For example, Darwin was unfamiliar with the work of the Moravian scientist and Augustinian friar Gregor Mendel,[11] and as a result had only a vague and inaccurate understanding of heredity. He naturally had no inkling of later theoretical developments and, like Mendel himself, knew nothing of genetic drift, for example.[12][13]

In the United States, creationists often use the term “Darwinism” as a pejorative term in reference to beliefs such as scientific materialism, but in the United Kingdom the term has no negative connotations, being freely used as a shorthand for the body of theory dealing with evolution, and in particular, with evolution by natural selection.

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