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Anthropology: Natural Selection and Evolution

What is natural selection?

Natural selection is the process of an organism’s adaptation to the environment that is performed through changing its genotype on a selective basis. Hence, an organism strives to preserve the most useful variations of its genotype to elevate the chances of survival. The ability to adopt denotes an organism’s competitive capacity in terms of survival. According to Darwin, natural selection is the main driver of evolution.

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How was it derived from artificial selection?

The concept of natural selection was initially based on that of artificial selection. Both theories recognize selective adaptation as the key determinant of an organism’s ability to survive. The only difference resides in the conditions under which the selection process occurs. Whereas natural selection theory insists on the assumption that the selection process is determined by the natural environment, artificial selection puts a particular emphasis on the importance of a human factor or the so-called “domestication.”

What are the implications of natural selection?

The implications of natural selection should be considered from different perspectives. From the biologic standpoint, natural selection plays a positive role enabling an organism to develop the most useful physical characteristics and improve its genotype. From the economic perspective, natural selection is of ambiguous character. On the one hand, it allows farmers to focus on cultivating those species that have the best survival prospects. On the other hand, it is due to natural selection that numerous destructive insects develop resistance to pesticides. Finally, from the moral perspective, natural selection theory is widely criticized as it implies the dominance of one group of people (or a nation) over another.

What are the examples of natural selection?

Numerous examples can be provided to illustrate the mechanisms of natural selection. Hence, for instance, during his expedition in the Galapagos Islands, Darwin found out that the beaks of the local finches differed from the beaks of those viewed in South America. The shapes of these beaks were adjusted in such a manner that the birds could easily get the food from the local sources. This observation prompted Darwin to develop the theory of natural selection. This theory was later proved by Peter and Rosemary Grant, who spent years examining finches’ evolution. Their research showed that environmental changes made finches adapt in order to survive. In the course of the adaptation, the finches acquired new characteristics that they transmitted to the next generations.

What is the real origin of species?

Darwin’s theory of the Origin of Species is often criticized for the lack of scientific rationale. Indeed, the state of the scientific knowledge of that time was not as advanced as it is today; therefore, it is natural that Darwin could have overlooked some critical aspects. Hence, for instance, modern science insists on the DNA being the real origin of things. This claim contradicts Darwin’s assumption that evolution is determined by the external environment entirely.

Why is mutation often regarded as a genetic error?

Generally speaking, mutation is a change in the DNA sequence. There can be different types of mutations differentiated in accordance with the character of the change. The main point is that mutations affect the organism’s functioning significantly. The function changes are abnormal; they often result in developmental delays and diseases – that is why mutations are commonly regarded as genetic errors. In the meantime, it should be pointed out that mutations’ impact can be likewise positive.

What arguments of the evolutionary model would the advocates of Intelligence Design have to address?

The principles of the Intelligence Design (ID) theory contradict those that constitute the basis of Darwin’s theory of evolution. Hence, the advocates of ID mainly argue the thesis that the environmental forces are sufficient to determine the appearance of organisms and their survival. In the meantime, the advocates of ID should address some other aspects of the evolutionary theory to make it look more rational. Thus, for instance, they need to explain the diversity of the life forms and the functional similarity of the parts of different organisms.

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Besides those covered in Origin of Species, what additional data did Darwin rely on for his conclusion regarding natural selection?

It would be wrong to claim that the Origin of Species was based entirely on Darwin’s observations on the Galapagos Islands. The Galapagos finch examples were reviewed over and over again as the scientist received new evidence. He registered all the changes in his notebooks that illustrate how the final conclusions were formed. Before finishing his theory, Darwin studied a large scope of the relevant literature related not only to biology but economics and animal breeding as well. He read various authors from John Milton to Jean-Baptiste Lamarck and was strongly influenced by Thomas Malthus’s theory of population.

How do replication, mutation, translation and transcription tie into the evolutionary process?

Modern science believes that genetic variation is the main driver of evolution as it explains the differences and the similarities between species. Hence, the evolution of meiosis or its transformation from mitosis might be interpreted as an allegory for the natural selection mechanism. Thus, the two forms of cell division have a lot of similarities; in the meantime, meiosis is evidently an improved form as its structure is much more complex.

What role do gene flow and genetic drift play in evolutionary change?

Gene flow and genetic drift play an important role in evolutionary change. Thus, as gene versions are transmitted from one population to another that would not initially have them, gene flow becomes an important element of the gene variation process. Genetic drift, in its turn, changes the genetic characteristics of one and the same population leading directly to the evolutionary change.

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