Natural Selection – What Do You Know About This Theory?

natural selection

A Colorado chipmunk in the Rocky Mountains. Photo via Flickr.

Natural selection is an important theory for anyone that is interested in the natural world.  Here is an overview of what it actually is.

Survival of the fittest.  That is one of the phrases that has become a common expression that people use all of the time.  The origin of that phrase comes from the landmark theory that explained one of the ways that new species come into being – natural selection.  Since this is such a common phrase and an important idea I wanted to explain it briefly here.

Who Came Up With Theory Of Natural Selection?

The commonly held belief is that Charles Darwin came up with the idea in his famous book, On The Origin Of Species, in 1859.  This is true, but at the same time another less known scientist, Alfred Russell Wallace, came up with the same theory.

natural selection

A golden mantled ground squirrel, found in the Rocky Mountains. Photo via Flickr.

What Is Natural Selection?

It is one of the ways that evolution happens.  Essentially it states that those individuals that possess certain characteristics that make them a better fit to survive pass on their characteristics to the next generation.  Then the next generation will have more of those characteristics until over time the entire population will posses those characteristics.

natural selection

A red squirrel in the Rocky Mountains.

An Example Of Natural Selection

Even as I wrote that explanation I realized it was confusing, so here is an example to make it clearer.

1 – Imagine that there is a population of beetles that are brown and red.

2 – Birds tend to eat the brown beetles.  The surviving beetles reproduce and the next generation has more red beetles than brown beetles because there were more red beetles alive to reproduce than brown ones.

3- Eventually, over many generations the entire population of beetles may be red.  This is because of natural selection.  In other words the red beetles survived more and were not eaten  by birds.  As such they passed on the red color to their offspring and the brown beetles were eaten and did not reproduce.

natural selection

A marmot in the Rocky Mountains. Notice how each of these photos shows a mammal that is slightly different than the others.

Why Is Natural Selection Important?

It is important because it explains how a species can slowly change and evolve into a new species.