Evolution questions

  1. Understand the major features in the history of evolutionary thinking, and how cultural, social, and intellectual inclinations of the time both affected and were affected by evolutionary thinking. Be able to give examples.

    A) Contrast how Aristotle and Plato thought about variation in biology with how Darwin and Wallace thought about variation in biology. What consequences did their different ideas on this point have for their thinking on stasis and change in species?

    B) Darwin and Wallace, both from Victorian England, independently conceived the idea of natural selection as a mechanism for evolution. In what ways was Victorian culture particularly well-suited to produce this sort of thinking? Both had substantial experience in the tropics. Why might this be important?

    C) Why were (and are) some people so upset by the idea of evolution by natural selection?

    D) Discuss "social Darwinism" and eugenics, and the role of Darwinian theory.

  2. Describe the modern definition of biological evolution, and the central features of the "Neodarwinian Synthesis." Understand the fundamentals of natural selection as a mechanism for evolutionary change. Discuss how evolutionary theory serves as a unifying concept for all of biology.

    A) Define evolution in terms of the Neodarwinian synthesis.

    B) Discuss the contribution of Mendel's work to evolutionary theory.

    C) Describe the mechanisms of inheritance in molecular, biochemical terms (i.e. DNA, etc.). What are mutations, and what role do they play?

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