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Introduction to Evolution Topic 1

1. AThomas MalthusMalthus wrote about the struggle for survival and its relationship to the fact that the food supply is limited, but animals, if permitted by other circumstances, will continue to breed until there are too many for the available food, at which time they will compete for scarce resources. This got Darwin thinking about natural selection and the concept of biological fitness, and ultimately, to how natural selection, coupled with spontaneous mutations, could shape the characteristics of the survivors through succeeding generations, and how this could account for the diversity among the species and their evolution over sufficient periods of time. BLyells new book, Principles of Geology (1830-3), profoundly influenced Darwin. Lyell offered not just a new geology but a new way of understanding nature. Lyell showed how tiny, slow, gradual and cumulative change over immense periods of time could produce large changes. Natural, visible, non-miraculous causes should be sought to explain natural phenomenon. Darwin had the opportunity to witness all of these forces, such as erosion, earthquakes and volcanoes, during the Beagle voyage and he became convinced that Lyells views were

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