Since the late 19th century, there have been many important discoveries about the mechanisms of inheritance and evolution.   These have occurred mainly as a result of three research developments:

1.   the invention of more powerful microscopes and other precision research tools
2.   the use of short lived organisms such as fruit flies and bacteria for breeding experiments
3.   the rigorous application of the scientific method

We now understand that natural selection is just one of a number of processes that can lead to evolution.  This knowledge has resulted in the development of a more complete understanding of genetic changes that is usually described as the synthetic click this icon to hear the preceding term pronounced theory of evolution.  This is essentially a combination of Charles Darwin's concept of natural selection, Gregor Mendel's basic understanding of genetic inheritance, along with evolutionary theories developed since the early 20th century by field biologists, population geneticists, and more recently by molecular biologists.  The hottest area of research concerning the mechanisms of evolution today is in evolutionary developmental biology (commonly known as evo-devo).  It focuses on discovering and understanding genetic changes that alter embryonic development and lead to new features in species lines.

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