The world around us changes. This simple fact is obvious everywhere we look. Streams wash dirt and stones from higher places to lower places. Untended gardens fill with weeds.
Other changes are more gradual but much more dramatic when viewed over long time scales. Powerful telescopes reveal new stars coalescing from galactic dust, just as our sun did more than 4.5 billion years ago. The earth itself formed shortly thereafter, when rock, dust, and gas circling the sun condensed into the planets of our solar system. Fossils of primitive microorganisms show that life had emerged on earth by about 3.8 billion years ago.
Similarly, the fossil record reveals profound changes in the kinds of living things that have inhabited our planet over its long history. Trilobites that populated the seas hundreds of millions of years ago no longer crawl about. Mammals now live in a world that was once dominated by reptilian giants such as Tyrannosaurus rex. More than 99 percent of the species that have ever lived on the earth are now extinct, either because all of the members of the species died, the species evolved into a new species, or it split into two or more new species.
The Hubble Space Telescope
has revealed many astronomical
phenomena that ground-based
telescopes cannot see. The
images at right show disks of
matter around young stars
that could give rise to planets.
In the image below, stars are
forming in the tendrils of gas
and dust extending from a
Many kinds of cumulative change through time have been described by the term "evolution," and the term is used in astronomy, geology, biology, anthropology, and other sciences. This document focuses o...
... middle of paper ...
...s Jacob. June 10, 1977. Evolution and tinkering. Science 196:1161-1166.
National Academy of Sciences. (in press). Science and Creationism: A View from the National Academy of Sciences. Washington, DC: National Academy Press. (See http://www.nap.edu/)
P. Ewald. 1994. The Evolution of Infectious Disease. New York: Oxford University Press.
"Evolution, Science, and Society: A White Paper on Behalf of the Field of Evolutionary Biology," Draft, June 4, 1997.
Jonathan Weiner. 1994. The Beak of the Finch. New York: Alfred A. Knopf.
Peter R. Grant. 1991. Natural selection and Darwin's finches. Scientific American, October, pp. 82-87.
James H. Tumlinson, W. Joe Lewis, and Louise E. M. Vet. 1993. How parasitic wasps find their hosts. Scientific American, March, pp. 100-106.
F. Fenner and F.N. Ratcliffe. 1965. Myxomatosis. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.
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