Natural Selection And Darwin's Theory Of Evolution (As Proven In A Variation Lab)

1646 words - 7 pages

Variation is the source of evolution. In this lab, we took a closer look the variations in two different species that are commonly known. A countless number of factors could have fostered the variations that we examined in this experiment. Most of the reasons for the variations that we see can be accounted for in the following categories: genetically based, environmentally based and sampling technique. Genetically based reasons for variation come from the very source of life itself, DNA.
Changes in DNA (genetic mutations) in a species derive variations within a certain species. For example, possibly a small change in an anchovies DNA sequence occurred as a result of an error in DNA replication and this change affected the length of the anchovy. This variation would have been fostered genetically, so the reason for this variation would fall under the genetically based category. Variations could have also been fostered due to environmental reasons. Possibly, a predator might have come along that only ate the larger fish, therefore killing off all of the larger fish in the species. Countless other environmental factors could have influenced the amount of variation that we saw. Also, some of the variation may have arisen from our sampling technique. We had multiple classes measure the lengths of different samples of anchovies and peanuts, so possibly some classes may have measured them differently. This would have created variation in the data. As you can see in the above graphs, each species tended to have a bell curve in the measurements of their lengths. There tends to be a collection of average lengths towards the middle of the graph, with outlying smaller and larger lengths for each species. Why is it that in two completely different species, the same pattern for the length measurements is found in each species? This can easily be explained through the application of Darwin's Theory of Evolution. Specifically speaking, a mechanism called "natural selection" explains why we see this common data trend. Natural selection acts to preserve and accumulate minor advantageous genetic mutations. Suppose a member of a species developed a functional advantage (it grew wings and learned to fly). Its offspring would inherit that advantage and pass it on to their offspring, because the advantage would help the members of the species survive to pass it on. The inferior (disadvantaged) members of the same species would gradually die out, leaving only the superior (advantaged) members of the species. Over time, those without the new advantage will be gone (or very few will remain) and the genetic variation will have spread throughout the species. Natural selection is the preservation of a functional advantage that enables a species to compete better in the wild. In our case, Natural selection created the data trend that we see in our samples from both the anchovies and the peanuts. In the center of the bell curve in the graphs, we see...

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