Darwin fathered evolution
Born 200 years ago today in Shropshire, England, Charles Robert Darwin’s research continues to revolutionize the world of science. His The Origin of Species, published in 1859, transformed the landscape of science .’
‘Before he published The Origin of Species, many people had been playing with the idea of evolution, but no one had collected the evidence in such a way to be persuasive,’ Ricardo Azevedo, assistant professor of biology and biochemistry, said.
Darwin’s theory created controversy because it proposed that the evolution of mankind was a natural process without divine intervention, but Azevedo said that controversy has subsided in modern times.
‘Most lay people don’t realize that’s actually not a big deal in academic circles.’ In scientific academic circles, there is really not much of a controversy anymore,’ he said.
Azevedo said some of the strongest evidence supporting evolution comes from the study of humans’ biological response to infectious diseases, such as the HIV virus.’
‘There are humans that have particular genotypes that make them relatively resistant to HIV, and obviously, those genes are spreading in Africa,’ he said. ‘So those genes are going to be passed to future generations that will make certain genetic variance in humans that will make them resistant to HIV.’
Darwin developed his theory of evolution through documented observation of animals in the Galapagos Islands off the Southern American coast. The theory explains the origin, evolution and survival of humans through a mechanism of evolution described by Darwin as natural selection.
‘Organisms having slight difference that will help them survive will tend to survive, will tend to reproduce, and those characteristics will be passed on to their offspring … and that’s a major engine for evolution,’ Azevedo said.
Azevedo said Darwin’s book gave rise to theories that are dominating medicine today.
‘It was a tremendous impact.’ He basically revolutionized biology with his work,’ Azevedo said.