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Darwin

There is no doubt about the fact that the change from a static-typological worldview to a dynamic-evolutionary worldview represents one of the greatest paradigm shifts in the history of ideas. This shift was initiated by the publication of Charles Darwin’s 'On the Origin of Species' in 1859, in which he put forth his ideas on the evolution of life. Two central ideas represent the backbone of modern evolutionary theory until today: adaptation as a consequence of natural selection and the principle of common descent. Darwin did not unveil the cause of heritable variation between the individuals within a species and how it is maintained over a sequence of generations, both important preconditions for the working of natural selection. It was only after his death, that the discovery of the genetic basis of inheritance and the evolutionary factors of mutation and recombination, which cause variance, provided a plausible explanation for these questions. These and further discoveries complemented and advanced Darwin’s theory of evolution during the last 150 years and since then, new findings have contributed regularly to the development of the theory.

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Canopé Ludwig Maximilians Universität München Centre National de la Recherche Scientifique Westfälische Wilhelms Universität Münster