What are Darwin's four theories of evolution

Evolution theory

Whatever the theory of evolution, it has long been viewed as a kind of heretical theory in the past. This is because the idea of ​​a common origin calls into question the history of creation and thus the role of God in the history of the earth. Therefore, it took a long time until the first well-founded scientific investigations and findings on evolutionary theories were anchored in the natural sciences.

Before the discoveries of Charles Darwin, the founder of the modern theory of evolution, naturalists and biologists assumed that the creation of various living things was an act of creation by God and that species accordingly remained the same. One speaks of the constancy of the species. In the beginning, even the fossil record was ignored in such theories. They were seen as random products. Only later were fossils included in the theories of evolution. It has been suggested that major catastrophes repeatedly occurred over the course of time, destroying a large part of the living beings in the world. Nevertheless, living beings came into being through the act of creation and, according to the constancy of the species, cannot be changed. Jean Baptiste de Lamarck and Charles Darwin were the first great naturalists to contradict this.

As an introduction to the topic, our partner Die Merkhilfe will explain what an evolution theory is and what it is

Theories of evolution: Cuvier, Lamarck, Darwin, creationism - at a glance | Evolution 3


Lamarck and Darwin

Jean Baptiste de Lamarck was the first scientist to postulate the inconstancy of species in his theory of evolution. He assumed that organisms change during their life and that these changes depend on the use or non-use of the organs or body parts. In addition, these acquired traits would be passed on to the offspring. Lamarck postulated an active process of adaptation of living beings to changed environmental conditions.

Let Lamarck explain the theory of evolution to you in this video!

Lamarck's Theory of Evolution - Descendence Theory / Theory of Descent | Evolution 4


The natural scientist Charles Darwin embarked on a research trip at a young age, which he spent many years evaluating. On the basis of many observations and studies, he was the first to formulate the selection theory of evolution, in which he assumes that living beings passively adapt to changing environmental conditions.

The basics of Darwin’s theory:
  • There is an overproduction of offspring and yet the totality of a population does not increase. So most of the offspring die before they can reproduce.
  • The offspring of a population are slightly different.
  • There is inheritance: certain changes occur over time in a line of succession.
  • Individuals in a population compete with one another, those who are better adapted survive and pass on their genetic make-up. ("Survival of the fittest" = survival of the best adapted, not the stronger!)
  • Through natural selection, the individuals in a population adapt better and better to the environmental conditions.

Over time, all of these aspects lead to a change in species, i.e. the change in living beings that constantly adapt to new environmental conditions.

Now we know Darwin and Lamarck's theories of evolution - let's look at a comparison!

Darwin vs. Lamarck - Lamarck and Darwin's theory of evolution in comparison | Evolution 8


Synthetic theory of evolution

The synthetic theory of evolution develops the basic idea of ​​Darwin with the help of more recent knowledge from the fields of genetics, ecology and other scientific disciplines. The concept of population in particular plays an important role, since evolutionary processes are primarily explained on the basis of population-genetic knowledge. A population is a group of individuals of the same species living in the same space at the same time. There is also a reproductive community between individuals.

The totality of all genes in a population is called the gene pool. In this gene pool, different alleles occur with different frequencies for a trait (allele frequency) and the probability of mutations is also higher than for a single individual. The gene pool is constantly expanding and changing.

At the end of the article, watch the appropriate educational video on synthetic evolution theory!