The in living things goes back to Greek

The theory of evolution, recognized today as a process of change
that develops living things over time, was presented by Charles Darwin in his
1859 book On the Origin of Species.
Darwin was an English naturalist whose father was a physician and whose
grandfather was also a physician and a philosopher who pondered the development
of species. In his 30s, the younger Darwin travelled on the ship, the HMS Beagle, to South America and spent much
time in the Galapagos Islands studying finches and tortoises. He was struck by
how slightly different the animals were on each of the many islands of the archipelago,
specifically the beaks of the finches seemed adapted to the shape of their food
source. “How does this change take place?” he wondered. He posited that the
form of the birds changed over generations, because in each generation the
birds with the beaks most closely matched to their food source were more able
to provide food, attract mates, and reproduce, thereby pass their beak-shape to
the next generation. Birds with unfavorable beak shapes would fail to thrive,
in general have a harder time attracting a mate, and were less likely to pass
their beak-shape to the next generation. In fact, the title of Darwin’s book in
its entirety is On the Orgin of Species
by Means of Natural Selection, and introduces the term ‘natural selection’
to explain how desirable traits, programmed at birth but selected for by mates,
are passed on to the next generation. The theory is also referred to as the ‘survival
of the fittest’ because traits that make an individual successful in life are
generally the most desired by mates. At some point, Darwin observed, the
finches became significantly enough different or isolated from their original
relatives that they were no longer able to or interested in interbreeding, the
typical inception of a new species. Darwin wasn’t sure of the biological
process for passing on or affecting the beak-shape of the next generation; that
was left for future theorists. 


Prior to Darwin’s theory, rumination of the differences in living
things goes back to Greek philosophers in about 600 BC. Anaximander of
Miletus suggested that humans must have developed from animals of another sort
because they need such care and nursing as infants. Plato believed in species
as Forms that aspire to be of a perfect, defined shape and that those Forms don’t
change over time. His student, Aristotle (384-322 B.C.), presented ideas that
are the most well-preserved and well-developed of the time. He described his
idea as a ladder or “scale of life” with insects and plants at the bottom
(simple, or less perfect) and mammals and humans at the top (complex or more
perfect). He believed that the number of species and their forms, which were
constant over time, were fixed rungs of the ladder with each having its own
purpose and place in nature, an idea later referred to as the Great Chain of
Being. This idea was generally accepted for almost 2000 years, regularly
intertwined with religion, that species were designed by God when He created
the earth, and were ordained for specific roles in life as determined by

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In the 1700s, the Swede Carl Linnaeus developed the idea of
taxonomy, the naming and classification of similar species into a tree of relatedness.
By the late 1700s, several scientists, Comte de Buffon and Erasmus Darwin, were
the first to explore the idea that species changed over time. Their ideas were
not formally published because of the pushback they feared from the church and
religious followers who still subscribed to the ordained and unchanging roles
of Great Chain of Being.

Transmutation, or transformation, was the dominant theory of the
early 1800s as proposed by Jean-Baptiste Lamarck in his Philosophie Zoologique (1809). The fully-formed evolutionary theory
built on the Great Chain of Being idea, and included the tenant that
individuals adapt physically to their environment within their lifetime and pass
those adaptations on to their offspring via a “life-force” fluid. The major
difference between transmutation and Darwin’s theory was that it didn’t include
belief in the existence of a common ancestor, instead that living things have
parallel (separate but similar) paths of evolution over time, families whose
members graduate up the Chain of Being.


About the same time as Darwin’s famous publication, Wallace also
published his ___ theorizing ___. 
Although the ideas presented by Darwin and Wallace went against common
thought at the time, within about ten years evolution was generally accepted as
fact by the scientific community and a large part of the public.