Meaning of Evolution

What is Evolution:

Evolution is the change that occurs from one state to another in an object or subject, as a product of a process of progressive transformation. It can refer to genetic changes in a species, the development of a person (biological or qualitative), the progression of historical stages, the phases of a situation or the transformation of an object and of nature in general.

Etymologically, the word evolution comes from the Latin expression evolutionary, made up of the contraction of the word former, which means "out", with the conjugation of the verb I will be back, which means "go around".

Some synonyms or terms related to evolution They are: transformation, development, variation, alteration, change, growth, advancement, improvement, movement or progress.

The word is frequently used to refer to the qualitative improvement of a person, situation, historical context, object, etc.Therefore, expressions such as personal evolution, technological evolution, scientific evolution, economic evolution, etc. are common.

Evolution in biology

In biology, evolution is specifically related to the study of the transformation processes of species, that is, the processes of adaptation and genetic mutation that generate structural changes in living beings. That is, the concept of evolution in nature is defined as the changes in the genetic records of a biological population (animal or plant) through generations.

Theory of the evolution of species

The theory of the evolution of species was presented by Charles R. Darwin and Alfred Wallace in 1859, in a book entitled The origin of species. It was preceded by the investigations and theories of Lamarck, who had already pointed conclusions in that direction.

According to the authors, the human being (homo sapiens) is the result of the evolution of other species such as homo erectus and the homo habilis, a statement that challenged the creation theory prevailing in the nineteenth century. Darwin also postulated that the evolution of species was the result of natural selection and adaptation.

Today, there are different hypotheses on the table about the causes of evolution. These are:

  1. Natural selection: theory of evolution by natural selection and adaptation (Darwin's thesis).
  2. Population reduction: less variety of genes.
  3. The way of reproduction: which gene reproduces the most.
  4. Genetic mutation: one type of gene is reduced.
  5. Gene flow: migration of genes to other places.

See more details on the Theory of Evolution.

Convergent and divergent evolution

In the study of the evolution of species we speak of convergent and divergent evolution. Convergent evolution occurs when two species of different phylogenetic origin evolve to generate similar structures or elements. For example: both hummingbirds and butterflies developed the same type of tongue to extract nectar from flowers.

Divergent evolution is one in which species with a common origin but that have been separated, evolve unevenly to adapt quickly to environmental conditions, either through mutations or natural selection. for example, those mammals that resulted from reptiles and developed limbs to adapt to a new ecosystem. Some of them turned two of their limbs into arms, like apes, and others kept their limbs as legs.

Evolutionism or social evolutionism

In general terms, the expressions social evolution or cultural evolution are used to refer to the different transformation processes that societies or cultures undergo.

However, there are specific analytical approaches that analyze societies from an evolutionary point of view, that is, from the paradigm of evolution typical of scientific studies. We are talking about social evolutionism and, more specifically, Darwinism.

According to these approaches, sociocultural evolution would have to be analyzed from the law of natural selection (survival of the fittest), which would explain why some civilizations prevail over others.

Historically, these theories have functioned as an ideological justification for Western domination over the world, which gives it an ethnocentric and Eurocentric character, today widely refuted.

Hence, there may still be an evaluative and even ideological use of the word evolution. For example, when the word is used to make comparisons of superiority / inferiority: "The current state of the country demands that we review the experiences of the most evolved countries."

In the anthropology of the last decades, cultural relativism has proposed new methods to study social changes, from the recognition that each society / culture is unique and has particularities that deserve attention. These methods discard social evolutionism because of its ethnocentric character.

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