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Topics in Depth

The History of Evolutionary Thought

The History of Evolutionary Thought: A Brief RecapBefore we tackle evidence of evolution head-on, let's briefly review the history of evolutionary thought. Recall that early ideas about the natural...

Geology

The first important piece of evidence came from geology. We know now that the earth is old—4.6 billion years, to be exact—but this was not always common knowledge. Prior to the Enlightenment, m...

Fossils

For early evolutionists, fossils were a second important source of evidence for evolution. Fossils show evidence of organisms that were once alive. Most people immediately think of bones, teeth, an...

Biogeography

Biogeography is the study of geographical distributions of organisms – that is, where stuff lives. Before evolutionary thought really took off, people assumed a creator had made all the organisms...

Comparative Anatomy

Comparative anatomy is another important and compelling source of evidence for evolution, and there's no better place to think about it than at the zoo. Let's take a little mental field trip. Upon...

Development

We already touched on development a little bit when we talked about homology, because homologous structures are especially easy to identify at the early stages of development. This is because, amon...

Molecular Biology

Although the tools of modern molecular biology weren't available to early evolutionary thinkers, we now have at our disposal even more evidence that supports evolution. For starters, we know that s...

Evolution in Action

In case you're not convinced yet that evolution really happens, we have one more piece of evidence in our back pocket. Evolution in action. That's right—for the real skeptics, we can actually wit...

Common Mistakes

Rudiments Versus VestigesRemember, rudiments are present only in a developing organism—they're evolutionary leftovers that appear briefly and then disappear. Vestiges, on the other hand, are evol...

Test Your Knowledge

1. List at least two ways in which fossils provide evidence that evolution has occurred.2. What is the difference between uniformitarianism and catastrophism? 3. What is a homologous structure?4. L...

Made From Trees

Offline ResourcesAudesirk, T. & Audesirk, G. (1999). Biology: Life on Earth (5th ed.). Upper Saddle River, NJ: Prentice Hall.Futuyma, D.J. (2005). Evolution. Sunderland, MA: Sinauer Associates,...

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