The Origin of Species (And Whales)

There are 7.7 billion people in the world. How did we all get here? By spaceship from another world? By magic? Well, Charles Darwin had another suggestion. He called it the ‘Origin of Species’. Let’s find out more about his idea.

Orangutan in hammock

Relax, enjoy the tale like our Orangutan in his hammock

In 1859 a work of scientific literature was published by no other than Charles Darwin, and it is considered the foundation of Evolutionary Biology. Darwin goes on to explain that life on earth got to where it is by evolving slowly over time to adapt to the current climate.

These species do not evolve by magic. They evolve through reproduction - where the strongest, most capable individuals reproduce and pass their genetics onto their offspring. Over time, this results in younger generations being given the most capable genes, and so, in theory, they better survive in their current climate.

As opposed to ‘artificial selection’, this process is completely natural. There is no conscious choice involved in the reproductive process. And this phenomenon is vital in the progression of a population.

How did Darwin discover this concept?

Well, the popular theory is that it was discovered through Finches in the Galápagos islands - which seems like a pretty good way to us at Koala Chess Art HQ!

Migrating bird

This migrating bird wishes he had adapted his beak like the finches

Many believe Darwin observed the variation of Finches on the island, and how multiple species developed and adapted to a specific type of food. For example, one had a thick beak which specialised in crunching nuts, whereas another had a slender, finer beak which was better suited to catching delicious insects.

If not through Finches, what else?

Well, Darwin had another idea - he thought a land mammal could become a whale. He used the hypothetical example of a bear, which often swims with its mouth open to catch fish, adapting over time to become more aquatic. He suggested they could end up having larger and larger mouths until they become a (very cuddly) whale.

Is the example of natural selection through whales so ridiculous?

No, it’s not. Scientists today believe it is the perfect example.

Whale on phone

Now this whale is phoning his parents as he has discovered the truth about his ancestors

Somewhere along the line, one whale developed nostrils much farther back on their head, which would have made them much more suited to the water, allowing them to reach greater depths and eventually become fully submerged. They would also have had much less competition for food underwater and, as such, have fed more often. Then, slowly, legs became flippers and their bodies became much more fluid.

The rest is history or actually, it’s Natural Selection.

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