The Science Past and Presentof Evolution

In This Chapter

► Getting familiar with the language of science

► Digging into fossils and rocks

► Comparing Darwin's knowledge with ours

Today, scientists know a lot more about fossils than they did back in Charles Darwin's day. They understand the molecular mechanisms of genetics and heredity. They can conduct experiments in the laboratory that allow them actually to observe the evolutionary process. In essence, science has come a long way since Darwin, whose investigations focused primarily on the process of natural selection. As this book explains, there's more to evolution than just the process of natural selection, but evolution by natural selection is an extremely important evolutionary force.

When it comes to natural selection, Darwin got the basics right, even though he had to speculate about the things that researchers can just measure today. Scientists since Darwin, in test after test and experiment after experiment, haven't been able to refute Darwin's theory. In fact, their work has provided copious evidence that the evolutionary process works almost exactly the way Darwin speculated it did.

This chapter looks at the information Darwin had when he formulated his theory of evolution via natural selection and at the things scientists have learned since then. The chapter also helps you understand exactly what scientists mean when they say fact and when they say theory, which, believe it or not, isn't code for "pulled out of thin air."

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