Unfortunately, even today some people get or give the impression that acquired characteristics can be inherited. As a result, we need to be very careful about how we state our understanding of evolution and evolutionary theory.
To test understanding of Darwin’s ideas, this question was included on an exam.
Four student answers to the question are given below. Based on what you know about Darwinian evolution and natural selection, evaluate and grade how well each answer represents Darwin’s ideas. For any answer that does not receive full credit (4 points), be sure to indicate why points were lost.
Student 1. Darwin saw that populations increased faster than the ability of the land to support them could increase, so that individuals must struggle for limited resources. He proposed that individuals with some inborn advantage over others would have a better chance of surviving and reproducing offspring and so be naturally selected. As time passes, these advantageous characteristics accumulate and change the species into a new species.
Okay, we have to analyze the description given by this student.
This student actually represents Darwin's ideas correctly, he understood that the inheritable traits were not acquired during the organisms life, but the organism was born with such advantageous trait instead. It is actually describing quite well this mechanism, since the student does not mention anything about genetics just like Darwin did because of the lack of knowledge about genetics in such times. The idea is clear, organisms are born with certain traits and those are the ones that will be inherited to the next generation, if the trait is favorable in nature then it will be more widely inherited to the next generation. The action of this selection across very long times eventually eads to speciation. This student has the 4 points
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