“I myself am convinced that the theory of evolution, especially to the extent to which it has been applied, will be one of the greatest jokes in the history books of the future. Posterity will marvel that so very flimsy and dubious a hypothesis could be accepted with the incredible credulity it has.”
These popular words were said by Malcolm Muggeridge. Little did the English journalist know that Darwin’s theory of evolution would go on to gain more than just a little “credibility” with time.
The predominant basis of the theory of evolution by Charles Darwin is that all species are related in some way and they tend to change over a period of time gradually. This theory encompasses the widely accepted and well-established scientific view in the 21st century that life on Earth has changed organically with time.
What Is the History of The Theory of Evolution?
Every February 12, we celebrate Darwin's Day. Why? It is the date on which he was born and also because he is considered to be the father of the theory of evolution in addition to being the “pater” of biology.
For this reason, throughout the world, thousands of institutions and individuals do something to celebrate the incredible work of this naturalist hundreds of years ago. For that reason, today, let us understand the theory of evolution with this easy guide!
The theory of evolution is how a corpus is known, i.e., a set of scientific knowledge and evidence that explains the phenomenon of biological evolution. This explains that all living beings do not simply appear out of thin air and that they have an origin and they change little by little over time.
Occasionally, these changes cause two different species to emerge from the same living being or ancestor. These two species, in this context, are sufficiently different so that they can be separately recognized without any kind of doubts.
The gradual changes in these living beings are known as evolution because the living being changes towards becoming something different.
Evolution is mediated by something usually called “natural selection,” although this term is very vague. A correct term is a selective pressure.
This explains that all living beings come from somewhere and keep on changing with time. This term is understood as a factor that “influences” these changes in one direction.
For example, the dryness of a desert will pressure all species to have a greater resistance to dehydration while the less adapted ones will die and will be lost in history. Evolutionary changes, as we can already deduce, are usually adaptive, which implies that it is all about the survival of the fittest.
The fittest adapt to the changes while the others wither away. The theory of evolution is not simple and has grown enormously during the history of biology.
Today, this subject is so large and extensive that specific sections of it are studied at length. In addition to that, some specialists are dedicated exclusively to understanding the very specific parts of Darwin’s theory.
When Did the Theory of Evolution Appear?
The origin of the theory of evolution has a specific date, and it is the publication of the book “The Origin of Species” by Charles Darwin himself. Although in reality, the idea of evolution and several related concepts can be traced to much earlier times, the truth is that the controversial publication of his book provoked a reaction that has no equal.
To this day, this book clearly establishes the bases around which the basic "axioms" of biology revolve. And that happened on November 24, 1859.
In it, Darwin explained his hypothesis (demonstrated widely later) of how species of living beings evolve and how natural selection (and selective pressure) push that change.
Where Was the Theory of Evolution Created?
Although “The Origin of Species” was published in England, the truth is that the emergence of the theory of evolution was developed much earlier. Historians place this moment in Darwin's voyages aboard the “Beagle,” a British explorer brig.
On his second mission, a young Darwin was added to the crew, whose education and interest in geology and nature, as well as some family issues, opened the door to his passage. During his trips around the world (literally), which lasted five years, Darwin acted as a naturalist (the classic concept of biology), collecting all kinds of information for the English empire and the crew.
Thus, during the crossing, he came across several islands and their species. The modifications and characteristics of these, as well as their geological knowledge and the influence of several acquaintances, instilled in his minds the idea of evolution in living beings.
Especially striking is the case of the finches of the Galapagos Islands in his book. However, it took several decades to mature the idea that, finally, and not without many dilemmas and some tragedy, resulted in “The Origin of Species,” the germ of the theory of evolution.
Who Proposed the Theory of Evolution?
Well, it is obvious, at this point, that the father of the theory of evolution was Charles Darwin. This is what we have seen so far.
But the theory is not only due to him and much less the current state of it. Skipping to some classics, it would be unforgivable not to name Alfred Russel Wallace, a naturalist, and geographer, as well as an explorer very similar in spirit to Darwin.
His more modest position than Charles probably put him a few steps behind the father of the theory of evolution. However, Wallace himself reached conclusions similar to those of Darwin even before he did.
It was actually a letter from him that ended up putting the ideas in the head of the most famous naturalist in history.
Regardless of who came up with the theory of evolution, it cannot be argued that today this mere notion all those years ago has turned into something that has massive credibility.