Biology and Evolutionary Theory
"When the views entertained in this volume ... are generally
admitted, we can dimly foresee that there will be a considerable
revolution in natural history."
|- Charles Darwin,
The Origin of Species 
- Introduction to
- This essay is a must-read for anyone who wants to participate
in talk.origins. It lays out the land for evolutionists and
creationists alike, presenting the ideas behind and the evidence
for biological evolution.
- What is
- All too often creationists spend their time arguing with a
straw-man caricature of evolution. This brief essay presents a
definition of evolution that is acceptable to evolutionists.
- Evolution is a Fact and
- Biologists consider evolution to be a fact in much the same way
that physicists do so for gravity. However, the mechanisms of
evolution are less well understood, and it is these mechanisms that
are described by several theories of evolution.
- The Modern Synthesis
of Genetics and Evolution
- Darwin developed his theory of natural selection without any
knowledge of genetics. Since Darwin, genetics and evolution have
been synthesized, and natural selection is no longer considered to
be the only evolutionary mechanism.
- The Origin of
- Read the book by Charles Darwin that started it all. The full
text of the book is online.
- In evolutionary biology today macroevolution is used to refer
to any evolutionary change at or above the level of species. It
means the splitting of a species into two or the change of a
species over time into another.
- 29 Evidences for
- This article directly addresses the scientific evidences in
favor of macroevolutionary theory and common descent. It is
specifically intended for those who are scientifically minded but,
for one reason or another, have come to believe that
macroevolutionary theory explains little, makes few or no testable
predictions, or cannot be falsified.
- Are Mutations
- People often ask questions such as, "Doesn't evolution depend
on mutations?", "Aren't most mutations harmful?" and "Are there
favorable mutations?". This article catalogs the different types of
mutations and discusses their effects on an organism's reproductive
- The Evolution of Improved
Fitness by Random Mutation plus Selection
- The notion that all the complexity we see before us today could
have been the result of naturally selected random mutations seems
mind-boggling. But antibody genes provide a clear example of random
mutations leading to the evolution of increased reproductive
- Darwin's Precursors
- It is sometimes claimed by those who wish to denigrate the
achievements of Charles Darwin that he was little more than a
"serial plagiarist." This essay aims to show that Darwin, like any
scientist, had influences, but that he was honest in his
- Darwinism: What is
- Do Darwinism and natural selection really conflict with what is
now known about evolution?
- Random Genetic
- Natural selection isn't the only mechanism of evolution. One of
the most important theories of evolution is genetic drift. Some
have even argued that drift is more important than natural
selection in evolving new species.
- There are few components of modern evolutionary theory which
seem so prone to misinterpretation as Niles Eldredge and Stephen
Jay Gould's theory of punctuated equilibria. This article explains
the purpose and meaning of punctuated equilibria and dispels some
of the myths about it.
- Evolution and Philosophy: An
- Critics of evolutionary theory very often misunderstand the
philosophical issues of the speciality known as the philosophy of
science. This essay seeks to summarise some of the more important
recent developments, provide a reading list, and to show that
evolution is no worse off philosophically than any other science
would be, and that the usual arguments against evolution from a
philosophical approach fail.
- Evolution and
- Evolution does not proceed from any basic randomness, although
genetic changes are not coupled to selection and may be
characterised as "random" relative to selection pressures, nor do
they anticipate the needs of a species.
- Evidence for
Evolution: An Eclectic Survey
- This set of articles surveys some of the scientific literature
presenting interesting or unique lines of evidence for evolution.
Cichlid fish, sexual selection, sperm competition, and
endosymbiosis are but a few of the topics discussed.
- Observed Instances of
- Not only does this essay examine in detail a number of observed
speciation events, but it also discusses the meaning of the word
- Some More Observed
- This group of talk.origins articles contains some instances of
speciation not covered in the speciation FAQ by Joseph Boxhorn.
References are usually given for further reading.
- Much of human evolution is well documented by the fossil
record. This set of articles covers the fossil evidence for such
human ancestors as Australopithecus afarensis, Homo
habilis and Homo erectus. Creationist arguments about
these fossils are also confronted.
- It is impossible to to debate creationists without hearing them
claim that there are no transitional forms in the fossil record.
This essay puts the lie to that claim by listing and briefly
describing a large number of transitional fossils among the
- Piltdown Man
- It took over 40 years to realize that Piltdown man, represented
by hominid-like fossil specimens found in Britain, was a fraud. Why
did it take so long to discover the hoax, who was the hoaxer, and
what does this episode say about evolution?
- The Archaeopteryx
- This set of articles describes almost everything one could ever
want to know about the reptilian/avian intermediary,
Archaeopteryx. All known fossil specimens are described,
claims about Archae's possible forgery are assessed, and
creationist arguments against the fossil's transitional status are
- Fossil Horse FAQs
- The evolutionary history of the horse has been reinterpreted in
recent years, but its record remains one of the most complete
examples of species evolution that biologists have. These articles
describe the horse series and refute some commonly heard
creationist claims about it.
- The Semi-Compleat Trilobite
- An examination of various trilobite fossils.
- The Natural History of
- This article is a concise presentation of the natural history
of marsupials, showing their evolutionary origins and outlining
their representation in the fossil record.
- The Evolution of Color
- Creationists like to attack the eye as evidence of an organ
that could not have come to exist by any other means than creation.
The evolution of the eye (and specifically of color vision) are
discussed in this article, providing a fine counter-argument to
creationist arguments from incredulity.
- The Origin of Whales and the
Power of Independent Evidence
- One of the favorite anti-evolutionist challenges to the
existence of transitional fossils is the supposed lack of
transitional forms in the evolution of the whales. Raymond Sutera
explains why the anti-evolutionists' arguments fails by examining
the fossil record of whales.
- Genetic Algorithms and
- Creationists often argue that evolutionary processes cannot
create new information, or that evolution has no practical benefits.
This article disproves those claims by describing the explosive
growth and widespread applications of genetic algorithms,
a computing technique based on principles of biological evolution.
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