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    What is Evolution?



    What is Evolution? (Definition of Evolution)


    9 June 2004

    Hi,
    I just noticed that on your Darwin Quiz, you stated that the definition of evolution was "Gradual development, from a simple to a more complex form." In reality, evolution has nothing to do with an organism's complexity, but it is rather related to how well adapted an organism is to its environment. There would be no reason for an animal to become more complex over time if this complexity was not completely based on its adaptation to environment.

    Rachel Holston
    UNC-Chapel Hill Undergraduate



    Dear Rachel Holston,
    Thanks for your careful reading. The definition for “evolution” in my quiz was adopted from the Oxford Advanced Learner’s Dictionary. The word “evolution”, from a linguistic point of view, refers mainly to development from a simple to a more complex form. In biology, theoretically, evolution can develop in any direction, but practically, for some reason, in most of the cases the trend is from the simple to the more complex form: from unicellulars to multicellulars, from cold-blooded to the hot-blooded, etc.
    Nevertheless, you have a point. Maybe the best definition for evolution is: "The gradual development, from a less adaptable to a more adaptable form through the process of natural selection". I think this definition includes the old one and your remark as well, and I am going to change it accordingly.

    Thanks again for your attention.
    Julian Rubin,
    Jokes and Science




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