Adaptation as a Way of Evolution

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Updated: Jun 28, 2022
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The theory of evolution has been around since the early 19th century and has been used as an idea to describe the changes of species over time. Many evolutionary thinkers have had their take on evolution over the years. These people include Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel, Richard Dawkins, Alfred Russel Wallace and Stephen Jay Gould. All of these evolutionists have contributed many ideas to the theory of evolution.

To begin, the theory of evolution has been a way for scientists and people alike to explain the changes of species over time due to inherited and physical traits.

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Charles Darwin was one of the first evolutionary thinkers to formulate this theory in his book, “On the Origin of Species” (Than). Darwin, a naturalists and biologist, explained the theory of evolution through a process called natural selection. Natural selection is the process in which species that are well suited for their environments are more likely to survive than those who aren’t. This theory introduced by Darwin has been more commonly referred to as Darwinism.

Along with Darwin, Gregor Mendel was also another evolutionary thinker who proposed his own ideas. Mendel, known as the father of genetics, used his work with pea plants to focus more on the inheritance factor of evolution (Olby). His experiments helped to show how genes are passed down and how there can be dominant and recessive traits as well (Olby). This shows that genes come in groups, but are passed down individually.

Another evolutionist, Richard Dawkins, is most known for his gene-focused proposal of evolution. According to Dawkins, the only factor that affects adaptation is the genes of an individual organism (BBC). Dawkins is also known for being an atheist, which in turn furthered his study of evolution to find an explanation for the world. His gene-focused research has hypothesized that it is not groups of organisms that affect adaptation (BBC).

Alfred Russel Wallace, one of the original evolutionary theorists, had ideas that coincided with that of Darwin’s. Wallace was a British naturalist who said that organisms evolve by adapting to their environment (Kuhn). He came to this conclusion by studying a variety of species in what is now Indonesia (Kuhn). His research showed that similar species use different means of survival, some being more successful than others. These means allowed species to be more prone to survival in their respective environments (Kuhn).

Lastly, Stephen Jay Gould was one of the more popular evolutionary thinkers to contribute to the theory of evolution. Gould, who was a paleontologist and biologist as well, is credited with coming up with “the theory of punctuated equilibrium,” (Barron). This theory states that evolution is shown through long periods of evolution and adaptation. He came up with this proposal by studying land snails and how their adaptations occurred over long periods of evolution (Barron).

In conclusion, many evolutionary thinkers have contributed to a vast variety of theories pertaining to evolution. Each scientist has used their own research to add to pre-existing theories or to disprove them. This has allowed for all sorts of advancements in how one looks at organisms and how they change over time.

Works Cited

  1. BBC. Profile: Richard Dawkins. British Broadcasting Company, 2012.
  2. Barron, Miranda. The Contributions of Evolution. 2014.
  3. Kuhn, Anthony. He Helped Discover Evolution, And Then Became Extinct. National Public Radio, 2013.
  4. Olby, Robert. Gregor Mendel. Encyclopedia Britannica, 2019.
  5. Than, Ker. What is Darwin’s Theory of Evolution? Live Science, 2018.
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Adaptation as a Way of Evolution. (2022, Jun 28). Retrieved from