A new study by researchers at the University of Cambridge has confirmed one of Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution as in his book “On the origins of species” after more than 140 years since his death, according to research published in Proceedings of the Royal Society.
Laura van Holstein, a doctoral candidate in biological anthropology at St. John’s College, University of Cambridge, is the lead author of the research, the results of which were published Wednesday.
The research deepens Darwin’s theory of “survival of the fittest” and the role of subspecies in evolution.
Darwin’s book “On the Origins of Species”, published in November 1859, nearly 150 years ago, emphasized the importance of subspecies in evolution. According to the theory, the species which leaves the most copies of itself in successive generations, that is to say the species with the greatest number of subspecies, is doomed to survive the most long time.
It included the suggestion that an animal species with greater diversity in its lineage will produce more subspecies. The theory was proven for birds a few years ago. Van Holstein’s research has confirmed that the same is true for mammals. She discovered that mammalian subspecies play a larger role in evolution than previously thought.
She confirmed the theory based on data collected by naturalists over hundreds of years before Darwin’s famous visit to the Galapagos Islands aboard HMS Beagle. On the Origin of Species Using Natural Selection was published after Darwin returned home from a five-year voyage of discovery. In the book, Darwin argued that organisms gradually evolved through a process called “natural selection” – often known as survival of the fittest, a theory considered quite controversial at the time.
In an official statement posted on the University’s website, Van Holstein said: “We stand on the shoulders of giants. In Chapter 3 of On the Origin of Species, Darwin stated that animal lines with more species should also contain more “varieties.” The subspecies is a modern definition. My research on the relationship between species and the variety of subspecies proves that subspecies play an essential role in the long-term evolutionary dynamics and in the future evolution of species. And they always have, which is what Darwin suspected when he defined what a species really was. “
The study also proved that due to differences in their habitats, evolution occurs differently in terrestrial (terrestrial) mammals and marine mammals and bats (non-terrestrial). He also explored whether subspecies could be considered an early stage in the formation of a new species, to which van Holstein said: “The answer was yes. But evolution is not determined by the same factors in all groups and for the first time we know why because we have examined the strength of the relationship between species richness and subspecies richness.
She aims to use her findings to further research and predict which species conservationists should focus on protecting them to prevent them from becoming endangered or extinct.