How to Explain Evolution

I was just talking to a friend and he had been placed in a position where he had to justify or explain the roots of the theory of evolution. The concept of evolution is so pervasive in our culture that most people take it for granted. We generally understand that over time chimps evolved into humans and that there are fossils that have been discovered showing this process.

But within our recent history there is evidence of evolution. The peppered moth!

“The evolution of the peppered moth over the last two hundred years has been studied in detail. Originally, the vast majority of peppered moths had light colouration, which effectively camouflaged them against the light-coloured trees and lichens which they rested upon. However, because of widespread pollution during the Industrial Revolution in England, many of the lichens died out, and the trees that peppered moths rested on became blackened bysoot, causing most of the light-coloured moths, or typica, to die off from predation. At the same time, the dark-coloured, or melanic, moths, carbonaria, flourished because of their ability to hide on the darkened trees.”

This is my favorite example of natural selection which is basically what Darwin observed while exploring South America and the Galapagos. He observed the possibility that separate species of finches had evolved differently on separate islands to take advantage of different types of food. This was combined, in his mind, with the observations of animal breeding in the industrializing economy.

So feel confident in this scientific knowledge. You can explain and observe evolution in the present. You don’t need fossils to show that the Earth evolves over time. There are little moths in England to prove it for us.

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