The word evolution means development. It’s about how living things evolved. From simple creatures, many more have emerged. The theory of evolution explains why there are different plants and animals in the world.
For a long time, people did not know how the world and living beings came into being. They believed that a god was responsible. This is what the Bible says, for example, God created plants and animals and finally man too.
In the 19th century, in particular, there were new ideas as to how the many different creatures came about. Around the year 1900, the idea of evolution prevailed. Most scientists consider it to be the best possible explanation. It was thought up primarily by Charles Darwin from Great Britain.
How does evolution work?
For example, when animals have children, the child has characteristics similar to the parents. A giraffe looks like a giraffe because the parents already looked like one. But why do giraffes have such a long necks?
The giraffe evolved from similar animals that had shorter necks. The bones of such animals have been found. However, it is good for giraffes to have a long neck: This allows them to reach the leaves of tall trees in order to eat them.
For a while, some researchers believed that giraffes got longer necks because they always stretched them up. Your body “remembered” that. Therefore, the little giraffe babies would also have got long necks.
However, Charles Darwin recognized that when a child is born, it sometimes happens that something “goes wrong”: the child becomes a bit different from the parents. How different is pure coincidence? Sometimes the change is bad, sometimes useful, often it doesn’t matter.
So some giraffes were born with slightly longer necks than other giraffes, by accident. The giraffes with long necks had an advantage: they could get to the tall leaves better. The other giraffes, with shorter necks, were unlucky and may have starved to death. Long-necked giraffes, on the other hand, lived long enough to have children of their own. Because their parents already had quite long necks, these children also had longer necks.
Why were some people opposed to the teaching of evolution?
Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. Some people didn’t care about his ideas because they just had different ideas about the making. Others, however, were against Darwin because evolution also applied to humans: humans arose from simpler creatures. They thought that was a very disgusting idea: they didn’t want to be descended from apes. That’s why they preferred to believe in the Bible. Some people still think that way.
Some people misunderstood Darwin: they believed that, according to Darwin, the fittest always wins. Some people even thought the same was true for humans. People even have the right to kill other people if they can do it. This would show who is stronger and deserves to survive. Strong people should therefore suppress or even exterminate weak people.
In fact, Darwin said: Those who are better adapted to their environment survive. Whether they are “better” or “more valuable” as a result has nothing to do with evolution. For example, there are far more flies than people in the world. Flies can survive well in different areas and reproduce well.