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Evidence of Evolution

Various Evidences of Evolution

Last updated date: 26th Mar 2023
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All life forms like plants, animals or microbes comprise biodiversity on earth. All of these organisms have a long history of changes and the study of the history of life on earth is called Evolutionary Biology. Evolution means the act of variation from one form to another form.


Many important pieces of evidence are present in nature that support the concept of evolution. These evidences clearly demonstrates that the various new life forms have evolved since the creation of earth.

Types of Evidence

Evolution as we all know is genetic change in a population of organisms over time. can observe evolutionary relationships between the organisms. Also, we have four types of evidence gathered by scientists to support the concept of evolution like fossils or paleontological, morphological embryological and biogeographical.

Paleontological Evidence

Organisms have appeared and disappeared, and have changed over time and extinction of species also took place. Some transitional forms of organisms reveal links between groups like Archaeopteryx: between reptiles and birds, Eustheopteron: amphibious and Seymouria: reptile-like amphibia. This indicates the ancient climate and environmental conditions, development of life from simple to complex and that life began in water.


We have studied about the different types of fossils found till date, like Imprint (thin, soft object is buried and sediments), Mould (Buried organism disappears and leaves an empty space), Petrification (minerals replace hard part of organism), Amber (entire organism fossilised in tree sap), Frozen (entire organism frozen in ice) or Trace (footprints, trails), etc.


The depth of fossils help to determine their age. The lower layers are older than those in the upper layers. It can also be detected by methods like Radioactive Isotope Dating using Carbon-14, Uranium-238 and Potassium-40 isotopes.


Types of Fossil


Types of Fossil

Morphological and Anatomical Evidence

The Study of anatomical structures to find similarities and differences gave one more evidence to evolution.

Homologous Structures – These are parts with similar basic structure (derived from same structures in embryo—same common descent), but may vary in function. Example: forearms of human, cat, bat, penguins and birds.


Forearms of Human, Cat, Frog, Bat, Bird


Forearms of Human, Cat, Frog, Bat, Bird

Analogous Structures – Structures that have the same function (may look somewhat alike), but have different structures and don't have a common descent. Example: wings have developed independently in insects, reptiles, birds, and bats.


Wings of Bat and Bird


Wings of Bat and Bird

Vestigial Structures – These include reduced body parts that have little to no function; remnants of ancestors. Examples: Human appendix (other mammals it is necessary to aid in digestion), human external ear muscle (useless, but still there), human tailbone (coccyx), human wisdom teeth, bird wings – Penguins adapted for swimming, ostrich wings for balance and courtship.

Appendix in Human

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Appendix in Human

Coccyx Bone in Humans


Coccyx Bone in Humans

Embryological Evidence

The science of the development of embryos from fertilisation to birth is called embryology. All vertebrate embryos exhibit pharyngeal pouches at a certain stage of their development. These features, which develop into neck and face parts, suggest relatedness of different organisms with each other. Patterns of embryological development can indicate a common ancestry. Fish, birds, mammals and reptiles all have gills; only fish retain theirs and fish, birds, humans and reptiles all have tails; but humans retain theirs.

Embryos of Fish, Reptile, Bird and Human


Embryos of Fish, Reptile, Bird and Human

Biogeographical Evidence

Biogeography is the scientific study of the geographic distribution of organisms based on both living species and fossils. Similar environments around the world contain organisms that are different species but have similar anatomies and/or behaviours that lead to common structures and or behaviors that aid survival or reproduction Example: meerkats and prairie dogs.


Additionally, organisms from common ancestors will change in structure and function to adapt to their specific environment. Example: Remote islands (i.e. Galapagos) animals that live there exhibit unusual behaviours. Many species are unusually fearless.

Important Questions

1. Why do some species live and some get extinct?

Ans: Extinction is frequently caused by a change in environmental conditions. When conditions change, some species retain adaptations that allow them to survive and reproduce, while others donot.However, species will occasionally evolve the necessary adaptations, over numerous generations, If the environment changes slowly enough. However, still, and if members of that species lack the traits they need to survive in the new environment, If conditions change more quickly than a species can evolve.

2. If humans evolved from apes, why are there still apes?

Ans: Humans didn't evolve from present-day apes. Rather, humans and apes share a common ancestor that gave rise to both. This common ancestor, although not identical to modernistic apes, was almost clearly more apelike than humanlike in appearance and demeanour. At some point, scientists estimate that between 5 and 8 million stretches ago; this species diverged into two distinct lineages, one of which were the hominids, or humanlike species, and the other finally evolved into the African great ape species living now.

Practise Questions

  1. What is another name for human evolution?

  1. Neogenesis

  2. Arthopogenesis

  3. Metagenesis


  1. Species inhabiting different geographical areas are called_____.

  1. sympatric

  2. allopatric

  3. biospecies

Answers

  1. (b)

  2. (b)

Conclusion

Species are units of evolution evolutionary changes are more random and less progressive in nature speciation is basic process in evolutionary change. These changes may be gradual or fast and maybe beneficial or destructive. Scientists have discovered many pieces of evidence like fossils, anatomy and embryo studies to prove the concept of evolution. Many of them have even given many theories for the origin of life on earth.

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FAQs on Evidence of Evolution

1. What does the fossil record show?

Fossils give a window into the far off past, discovering how life has changed. Fossils are the remaining parts or traces of old creatures, protected over the ages in rock, amber, ice, or another medium. Researchers who concentrate on fossils, called palaeontologists, utilise different strategies to uncover what an old organism resembled, where it resided, what it ate, and how it acted.

2. How are fossils formed and sometimes no fossil is left behind?

Organisms covered by sediments (mud, sand, silt, clay, ash) Calcium replaced by minerals in the sediments over time Sometimes imprints can also be preserved (tracks, leaf impressions, etc. Organisms didn't die in the correct environment to be preserved. Body has no hard parts like shell, skeleton. And was virtually absent from fossil record: amoebae, flatworms, jellyfish, sea slugs, etc.

3. What are the four evolutionary mechanisms?

There are four evolutionary mechanisms are:

  • Genetic Mutation: A mutation is a genetic change that occurs randomly or as a result of environmental factors.

  • Genetic Drift: Genetic drift happens when a section of the population with distinct genetic features dies or moves away, resulting in the formation of two genetically distinct groups.

  • Mixing Genetic Pool: Mixing genetic pools of two related species to create genetic diversity.

  • Natural Selection: An organism's capacity to best survive its surroundings and choose an optimal mate while effectively passing down its genes.


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