Professor A.J. Rocke
25 March 2014
Charles Darwin is well-known for his groundbreaking work on evolutionary biology. Among his many contributions, The Origin of Species is the most associated with his name. He introduces the scientific theory of evolution and suggests that species have evolved over a period of many generations through a process called natural selection. Darwin's theories have created much controversy among his colleagues and led to great amounts of debate. However, the massive amount of criticism directed at Darwin convinced him to make to revisions. As a result, his future editions would differ considerably from the earlier versions and he also responds to some of the issues people had with his theory in the later versions. Unfortunately, his adjustments had somewhat obscured his original argument, which is the reason of his first edition being the best representation of Darwin’s ideas.
Charles Darwin begins Origin of Species by explaining his theory of natural selection. He claims that the breeders of animals and plants have had a profound impact with the changes they created among domesticated species. Darwin used the common practice of breeding animals as a way to introduce artificial selection in order to help the readers of 1859 understand the possibility of nature also being capable of producing similar changes through the same selective process. Darwin is firm that his theory of variation and inheritance plays a vital role in human reproduction. However, these kinds of ideas were treated as absurd as there was no direct evidence at the time that supported the belief of genetics. The idea was that people were made up of genetic variables and that each gene would be passed on as a unit to the next generation. As a result, Darwin argued that individual variation among individual persons was a result of certain conditions on the reproductive process. Darwin believed that this conclusion was sufficient in his supporting his claim.
Through his efforts to support his theory, Darwin decided to change focus from his studies in the random variations in domesticated species to the work of the animal breeders that exploit that the variations. He wanted to demonstrate that there is not an obvious distinction between the production of new breeds created by man and the appearance of new species in nature. This meant that artificial breeds do not always revert to some sort of fixed "natural" form for their species. One convincing example of Darwin’s was the diversity demonstrated with pigeon breeds that were so different that it was possible of accidentally classifying them as part of another species.
Darwin does not leave the possibility of variation as only existing under domestication. He also questioned whether variation existed among the wild populations of species. However, he was not expecting as great of an amount in variation in the wild due to the “natural conditions” that exist among the wild....