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This is a brief introduction to evolutionary biology.I attempt to explain basics of the theory of evolution and correct many of the misconceptions.Soot from factories darkened the birch trees the moths landed on.Against a sooty background, birds could see the lighter colored moths better and ate more of them.Mistakes even filter into biology journals and texts. al., in their cell biology text, proclaim, "It was Charles Darwin's great insight that organisms are all related in a great chain of being..." In fact, the idea of a great chain of being, which traces to Linnaeus, was overturned by Darwin's idea of common descent.Misunderstandings about evolution are damaging to the study of evolution and biology as a whole.[gene: a hereditary unit] So, the change in frequency of dark colored moths represented a change in the gene pool.
The late eighteen hundreds was the time of England's industrial revolution.People who have a general interest in science are likely to dismiss evolution as a soft science after absorbing the pop science nonsense that abounds.The impression of it being a soft science is reinforced when biologists in unrelated fields speculate publicly about evolution.One common mistake is believing that species can be arranged on an evolutionary ladder from bacteria through "lower" animals, to "higher" animals and, finally, up to man.Mistakes permeate popular science expositions of evolutionary biology.Evolution is a change in the gene pool of a population over time.A gene is a hereditary unit that can be passed on unaltered for many generations.Evolution can occur without morphological change; and morphological change can occur without evolution.Humans are larger now than in the recent past, a result of better diet and medicine.Others think the distinction between the two is arbitrary -- macroevolution is cumulative microevolution. The fact that all organisms are linked via descent to a common ancestor is often called evolution.The theory of how the first living organisms appeared is often called evolution. And frequently, people use the word evolution when they really mean natural selection -- one of the many mechanisms of evolution.