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  • The A to Z of isms... Darwinism.

  • The philosopher Daniel Dennett

  • described Charles Darwin's theory of evolution, Darwinism,

  • as "the single best idea anyone has ever had".

  • It certainly was a brilliant one,

  • though Darwin wasn't the only one to come up with it.

  • The naturalist and explorer Alfred Russel Wallace

  • put forward a very similar explanation of the biological data

  • independently of him at around the same time.

  • But once Darwin published his book, On The Origin Of Species, in 1859,

  • the theory of evolution was ever-after linked with his name.

  • It was a radical idea

  • because, although Darwin didn't spell this out,

  • people soon realised it entailed the view that human beings

  • were just another species in the animal kingdom

  • and shared a common ancestor with apes.

  • For Victorian England, this was quite a bombshell.

  • As a young man,

  • Darwin had spent five years as a naturalist on a round the world trip

  • aboard HMS Beagle.

  • He'd gradually come to realise that species change over time -

  • they evolve.

  • Imagine you're a finch on a Galapagos island.

  • There are lots of plants with seeds, but not much else to eat.

  • Your bill is a good shape for cracking them open.

  • Lucky you.

  • That's probably just the result of a variation you find within a species.

  • You happen to have a beak that allows you to eat seeds.

  • Others aren't so fortunate.

  • You survive and reproduce,

  • and pass that trait on to some of your offspring.

  • The offspring that have beaks like yours flourish.

  • The same thing happens in the next generation.

  • Gradually, over many thousands of years,

  • the finches on this island that survive

  • become better adapted to the available foodstuff.

  • Your type of beak predominates.

  • On another island, the main diet is prickly pear,

  • and the finches that survive and flourish there

  • have very different shaped beaks from yours.

  • Not only do members of a species change as a result of such evolution,

  • but also entirely new species emerge.

  • Today's Darwinism

  • is rather different from Charles Darwin's Darwinism though.

  • We now have a much better understanding

  • of the biology of heredity than he did.

  • Darwinism today is a powerful combination

  • of Darwin's general theory with modern genetics.

  • Darwinism is central to understanding how we came to be what we are.

  • It's possibly the most important ism yet.

  • Thanks for watching! :)

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The A to Z of isms... Darwinism.

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B2 darwin evolution theory charles beak offspring

Charles Darwin's theory of evolution explained | A-Z of ISMs Episode 4 - BBC Ideas

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    Summer posted on 2020/09/10
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