Fossils discovered within rocks led scientists to begin to change their ideas on the creation of life on earth.
Charles Darwin's 5 year voyage on HMS Beagle led to him collecting different flora and fauna from the countries he visited.
In particular, the finches on the Galapagos Islands got Darwin thinking. He noticed that the finches on the different islands were fundamentally similar but had differences in size, beaks and claws depending upon which island they were found on.
The finches descended from a common ancestor, but had evolved differently depending upon the different environmental pressures of their islands.
Darwin concluded that in nature all organisms compete with each other for resources in order to survive, and this competition between members of the same species is what makes organisms evolve. Only the best adapted organisms will survive the competition and reproduce, the others will die out. Darwin called this process natural selection, and he published his ideas in a book called “On the Origin of Species”.
Analysis of fossils has provided further evidence for Darwin’s ideas about evolution being a process of natural selection, with the best adapted organisms surviving the competition for resources.
Transitional fossils are the preserved remains of organisms that appear to have traits common to more than one species, such as transitional fossils showing the evolution of whales from terrestrial ancestors.
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