Natural Selection

Charles Darwin
Image from Wikimedia Commons

“Multiply, vary, let the strongest live and the weakest die.” This quote was said by Charles Darwin in The Origin of Species. Natural selection, where should I start? Well, natural selection, commonly defined as “survival of the fittest,” is one of the basic mechanisms of evolution. Charles Darwin, known for laying the foundations of the theory of evolution, created this idea of evolution.  For example, if there is a species of beetles, and some are green and some are brown, the green beetles are more likely to be eaten. Therefore, the number of brown beetles will be significantly more than the number of green beetles. When reproduction happens, the amount of brown newborn beetles will also be more than the number of newborn green beetles, and so on. Eventually, if this process continues, all individuals in the population will be brown beetles. Simply put, if there’s variation, reproduction, and heredity, there will be evolution by natural selection as an outcome. Adding on to appearance, behavior could also be shaped by natural selection. It has been seen that human activity has led to environmental changes that have caused species to evolve through natural selection.

Biology uses the word fitness to describe how good a particular genotype, the set of genes an organism has, is at leaving offspring in the next generation relative to how good other genotypes are at it. Fitness is a rather relative thing. For example, the fittest genotype during a heat stroke won’t be the fittest during an ice age. Fitness is a concept that meshes survival, reproduction, and everything that matters to natural selection into one idea. In human terms, when you imagine the “fittest” person, you probably think of a very muscular man who exercises a lot. However, the fittest individual doesn’t have to be the strongest or the fastest. The fitness of a genotype depends on its ability to survive, find a mate, reproduce, etc. Natural selection does act on survival ability, but it also depends on the “fitness” of a genotype. Therefore, natural selection is coined “survival of the fittest.”

Personally, all I thought about while researching “natural selection,” was the Hunger Games. In the Hunger Games, tributes are chosen to fight to the death in this cruel competition that the government set up. The objective of the game is to stay alive long enough for everybody else to be killed off. At the end of the games, only one person will remain, and that person will have had to survive the whole time without being killed. Natural Selection reminded me of the Hunger Games, since it’s essentially talking about the “survival of the fittest.” The person who is most able to survive is the winner, and the only one left. I thought natural selection was really interesting to learn about. Researching this topic left me wondering if maybe in the future, humans will have evolved to have the same traits as each other. It seems a little far-fetched, but when you really think about it, it could potentially occur. Natural selection pertains to what we learned at the beginning of the year about the ten themes of biology. “Adaptation and evolution” is actually one of the ten themes, and natural selection falls into that category.

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