Darwin’s Theory of Evolution: Impact of Genetics

The development of natural science challenges the tenets of already existing theories. Today, with the help of new technologies and modern approaches, researchers are able to formulate more sophisticated ideas that affect previous discoveries. Darwin’s theory of evolution is one of the ideas that was influenced by the developing field of genetics. In this paper, the major effects of the DNA studies on Darwin’s research will be profoundly analyzed.

Charles Darwin was an English naturalist who made a significant contribution to the field of biology. His ground-breaking writing On the Origin of Species presenting the theory of evolution shattered the world and changed the old beliefs of people (Vega & White, 2019). According to Darwin, all species develop through natural selection, which means that they have to compete to survive. The idea of gradualism, or slow evolution, lies at the core of the theory. Darwin emphasized that certain abilities of different species of organisms, like reproduction and dominance, are connected with survival (Vega & White, 2019). His ideas undermined the beliefs about the divine origins of human beings and led to an increased interest in this field of study.

In the nineteenth century, there were no technologies to study evolution at the cellular level. Today, researchers are able to observe organisms in a laboratory setting and access the molecular level. The difference between Darwin’s theory and the DNA studies is that the former is mostly based on external factors, while genetics deals with internal processes, such as mutations inside the cell. For example, according to Behe’s (2019) studies, Darwin’s theory does not fully evaluate the process of evolution in terms of genetic changes. At the same time, DNA plays an essential role in the organism’s ability to survive.

The effect of modern DNA discoveries on Darwin’s theory can be traced through the studies of particular species. For example, Behe (2019) mentions that in Darwin’s writing, the polar bear is the brightest example of random variation and natural selection. According to this idea, polar bears are related to a species from the neighboring geographical areas and demonstrate the adaptation of organisms to their habitat. However, Darwin did not have an opportunity to study what exactly happened within the genome of the animal. Only after having the laboratory studies performed, researchers identified that certain genes were responsible for the polar bear’s metabolism, fur color, and other important mutations connected with survival (Behe, 2019). In this case, it is possible to see that the DNA studies developed Charles Darwin’s theory and provided a deeper understanding of genetic processes and their connection to evolution.

The development of genetics became the foundation for creating new theories that combine Darwin’s ideas and the modern perception of evolution. Neo-Darwinism is one such evolutionary study based on the connection between natural selection and genes (Vega & White, 2019). According to modern synthesis ideas, there can be rapid mutations in species, which undermines the gradualist position of Darwin. Besides, the neutralism theorists state that the major driving force of evolution is selectively neutral mutant genes that can be randomly drifted within species (Vega & White, 2019). As a result, it is possible to notice that modern theories affect Darwin’s assumptions differently.

In conclusion, since scientists receive more data for new sophisticated studies, the changes in evolutionary theory are natural and inevitable. Some of the new DNA teachings do not doubt the naturalist’s theory but test and develop it through the more profound genetic research. New research proved that genetics are the driving force of evolution which causes the revision of some of Darwin’s discoveries. Although some of the modern ideas challenge the traditional theory of natural selection, Darwin’s work is still studied worldwide as a traditional approach to evolution.

References

Behe, M.J. (2019). Darwin devolves: The new science about DNA that challenges evolution. HarperCollins.

Vega, L., & White, B. (2019). Fundamentals of genetics. Edtech Press.

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