Futuyma, Douglas J. Department of Ecology and Evolution, State University of New York, Stony Brook, New York.
Last reviewed:August 2019
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- Study of evolution
- Historical importance of Charles Darwin
- Mechanisms of species transformation
- Genetic variation
- Natural selection
- Random genetic drift
- Rates of evolution
- Related Primary Literature
- Additional Reading
The modification of living organisms during their descent, generation by generation, from common ancestors. Evolution, also known as biological or organic evolution, encompasses the processes of change in organisms by which descendants come to differ from their ancestors, and it includes the history of the sequence of such changes (Fig. 1). Evolution includes two major processes: anagenesis, the alteration of the genetic properties of a single lineage over time; and cladogenesis, or branching, whereby a single lineage splits into two or more distinct lineages that continue to change anagenetically. Most importantly, there is no controversy about the reality of evolution as a historical event. That organisms have descended from common ancestors is accepted by knowledgeable biologists as fact. Molecular and other similarities point to the fact that all living things are related to each other by common ancestry. See also: Animal evolution; Macroevolution; Plant evolution
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