Theory of evolution (biology only)


  • Charles Darwin, as a result of observations on a round the world expedition, backed by years of experimentation and discussion and linked to developing knowledge of geology and fossils, proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection.
  • Individual organisms within a particular species show a wide range of variation for a characteristic.
  • Individuals with characteristics most suited to the environment are more likely to survive to breed successfully.
  • The characteristics that have enabled these individuals to survive are then passed on to the next generation.
  • Darwin published his ideas in On the Origin of Species (1859). There was much controversy surrounding these revolutionary new ideas.
  • The theory of evolution by natural selection was only gradually accepted because:
  • the theory challenged the idea that God made all the animals and plants that live on Earth
  • there was insufficient evidence at the time the theory was published to convince many scientists
  • the mechanism of inheritance and variation was not known until 50 years after the theory was published.
  • Other theories, including that of Jean-Baptiste Lamarck, are based mainly on the idea that changes that occur in an organism during its lifetime can be inherited. We now know that in the vast majority of cases this type of inheritance cannot occur.
  • A study of creationism is not required.

Give examples to show how scientific methods and theories have changed over time. Explain, with an example, why new data from experiments or observations led to changes in models or theories. Decide whether or not given data supports a particular theory. ,

Explain why data is needed to answer scientific questions, and why it may be uncertain, incomplete or not available. Outline a simple ethical argument about the rights and wrongs of a new technology.