Evolution and Culture
Posted on June 12, 2008 by Peter Turney
What is evolution? There are three main components to evolution: variation, heredity, and differential fitness. The best definition I have seen is in Robert Brandon’s Concepts and Methods in Evolutionary Biology:
The following three statements are crucial components of the Darwinian (or neo-Darwinian) theory of evolution:
- Variation: There is (significant) variation in morphological, physiological and behavioral traits among members of a species.
- Heredity: Some traits are heritable so that individuals resemble their relations more than they resemble unrelated individuals and, in particular, offspring resemble their parents.
- Differential Fitness: Different variants (or different types of organisms) leave different numbers of offspring in immediate or remote generations.
Of course life evolves, but evolution inevitably happens whenever we have these three things: variation, heredity, and differential fitness. Thus life is not the only thing that evolves.