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Darwin and Natural Descent

Of all the thousands and thousands of people who have worked on questions of biological diversity and development no one person is better known and less understood than Charles Darwin. One can talk about classic Darwinism, neo-Darwinism, social Darwinism, evolutionary psychology and who knows what else in connection with Darwin and his theory of natural descent. What actually did he claim in his original theory?

Darwin and Natural Descent

Natural Descent

Your task here is to grasp the main points of the theory of descent as originally formulated by Charles Darwin. The following link is a good help for getting the main points: http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/

The following also lists the main components of Darwin's original theory (summarized from Mayr 1979):

* Fact 1: Populations can theoretically grow exponentially and unlimitedly.
* Fact 2: The size of population stays more or less stable despite occasional fluctuations.
* Fact 3: The resources (food, water, living space etc.) needed by a population are limited.

Questions on Darwin

Question 1: What did Darwin conclude from these three facts in regard to the situation of an individual organism in a population?

The correct answer to question 1 leads you to the next facts:

* Fact 4: Each individual is unique.
* Fact 5: Much of an individual's uniqueness can be passed on to the offspring.

Question 2: What do these facts mean for the fate of the individual and his or her offspring in comparison to other such individuals and offspring? Who or what does the comparing?

Question 3: What happens when sufficient time is added to the above facts and conclusions?

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