Best Biologist, Charles Darwin, Fooled Us

Charles Darwin rose to become the world’s best evolutionary biologist due to this theory of evolution. But did you know the theory was flawed?

It is as if Charles Darwin got us all fooled all these years. Here are the major flaws in Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution.

Charles Darwin was the author of the path-breaking and monumental work, On the Origin of Species. This book is considered to be the origin oCharles Darwinf the field of evolutionary biology. Much of his theory pertained to how organisms arose from a common ancestor and underwent a course of evolution over millions of years, to reach the form where they are today. The book was based on the results of evidence obtained over the course of his research as well as the discoveries he made on the famous expedition aboard the Beagle, which took him to that now immortalised island, Galapagos.

His book created uproar as it conflicted with the teachings of the Church which emphasised that humans are distinct from other animals and have a divine origin and that species never changed and new species were created by God. Because of his reputation, unlike other scientific discoveries which never received immediate attention following their findings, his findings in the book were taken seriously and started receiving recognition. The foundations of the evolutionary theory proposed by Darwin lay in the works of predecessors such as Erasmus Darwin (Charles Darwin’s grandfather, theory of transmutation of species) Lamarcke’s theory of acquired inheritance

Charles Darwin’s Theory of Evolution, which revolutionised life sciences as we know it today is still an ongoing subject of debate and criticism. His theory centered around the key premise that all creatures had a common origin.

The key points of theory by Charles Darwin were as follows:

  1. He defined a species as a collection of organisms that are capable of interbreeding
  2. There is a limited number of resources available.
  3. Organisms compete for different resources.
  4. To increase the chances of offspring surviving, organisms produce more organisms than necessary so as to ensure that atleast some surive.
  5. Variations are introduced in organisms by dint of genetic and external changes and confer upon them the ability to adapt themselves to changes in environment.
  6. Those organisms, which possess the traits, which enable them to adapt in an environment, will survive more and reproduce more. Those traits are selected for by nature. This is called Natural Selection. Organisms, which are unable to adopt to the existing climes or changes in the environment or who lack the traits which confer such benefits will become extinct.
  7. Over time, organisms have evolved by accumulating such traits. This is slow and gradual.
  8. Thus, Organisms have arisen from pre- existing organisms over time, with the acquisition of changes obtained as a result of various processes.
  9. Darwin’s theory is thus naturalistic and the crux is descent by modification.Complexity evolves from simplictuy over time
  10. According to Charles Darwin, evolution is a slow long process and variations are gradually accrued over time.

What Was Wrong in the Theory by Charles Darwin?

Charles DarwinInspite of overwhelming evidence (paleontological and other) in this direction and it is almost universally accepted, religious proponents still object to evolution as it goes against the basic tenets of God. Some flaws in the theory of Charles Darwin which made several people sceptical of its validity was:

  1. There was no evidence of living and or fossilised intermediate forms which would corroborate the theory.
  2. No explanation for how behaviours and instincts took root.
  3. Complicated structures- how these were formed, were not explained.
  4. How information was transmitted from generation to generation was not explained then but this was overcome with the discovery of DNA and the opening up of the field of molecular biology.

More People are Questioning What Charles Darwin Proposed

Recent discoveries however, have started questioning the validity of the extent to which theory by Charles Darwin may hold true. Some experiments have shown that lifestyle changes could be transmitted to immediate offspring viz environmental changes can be inherited. While environment has been known to influence the creation of new traits, no direct inheritability had been observed till date. Studies in Sweden have shown that stress experienced by mother hens is transmitted to their chicks, which showed the same modified behaviour in the absence of the stress. A similar study in humans also showed that the effects of overeating in parents could be transmitted to their offspring. This is a significant discovery as it challenges the notion of the randomness of the power of natural selection and that the choices we make in our lifetime can significantly influence how our offspring would turn out to be. This implies that rather than being unthinking, natural selection is a very intelligent process. This kind of changes are related to the changes in proteins associated with the genes and this field is throwing up major challenges to the Theory of Evolution, which may have to be modified as more evidence turns up. The existence of viruses and horizontal gene transfer between organisms also raises more questions.

What really drives in the nail about the universality of The theory of evolution is the existence of complex systems in the biological systems. Charles Darwin himself states that “If it could be demonstrated that any complex organ existed, which could not possibly have been formed by numerous, successive, slight modifications, my theory would absolutely break down.” Such complex organs would be known as complex systems which cannot be reduced any further without losign its functionality. All the parts are required for the system to function and changes or loss to any one part may affect its whole functioning. Existence of such systems challenges the notion of gradual and step by step evolution. The cell itself is an example of a complex system. From cells to organelles to organs to living beings, the complexity is quite evident. The advancements over the last many decades in several fields of biology have shown the existence of many such complex systems in the natural world, which cannot be reduced any further. In addition, Charles Darwin himself has mentioned that expecting natural selection to operate in the development of complex systems such as the eye, seems not plausible

Thus, the theory by Charles Darwin is threatened and it seems it is time to have another relook at the evolutionary theory.

Image source:

Wikimedia Commons

References:

http://www.globalchange.umich.edu/globalchange1/current/lectures/selection/selection.html

http://www.theguardian.com/science/2010/mar/19/evolution-darwin-natural-selection-genes-wrong

http://www.spaceandmotion.com/Charles-Darwin-Theory-Evolution.htm

http://www.darwins-theory-of-evolution.com/

http://www.pbs.org/wgbh/evolution/educators/course/session2/explain_c_pop2.html

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