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Sam Malone

I was recently surprised after a conversation with my father at his apparent lack of understanding
of the concept of evolution. After discussions with friends who had not specied in biology during
high school, I discovered that what I considered a universally accepted piece of common
knowledge is actually very poorly understood by most people. Dr. Howard Ross, a Senior Lecturer
on Evolutionary Biology at the University of Auckland, told me that the question, Why dont people
believe in evolution? is a Vietnam War of a question; meaning that it is never-ending and fairly
exhausting. People who excel in mathematics or biology will probably go on to pursue a career in
those elds. Evolution is often taught poorly, because many teachers dont feel entirely comfortable
in teaching it. Maybe they dont understand the concept fully - it is complex in some respects - or
perhaps they are ideologically opposed to the idea (Ross, 2014). In my eight minutes, I wish to
outline the main reasons why people refute the theory, and put forward a summary of out strongest
evidence for evolution. This will serve as a brief public education piece, to enlighten viewers as the
the nature of our existence.

Firstly, before delving into specic examples, we need to enlighten viewers as to Darwins basic
theory of Natural Selection. The theory states that the process of creating genetic code within each
living thing is not perfect. Natural mutations occur within DNA, where the data is essentially
corrupted. This causes changes over time - mutations. This is not always a harmless change: this
is also the process by which cancerous cells are born in the body. However, some of these
mutations may prove benecial to the new creature, giving it an advantage over its predators or
competitors. This creature will survive and reproduce, passing its new, benecial gene on to its
children. These benecial traits are naturally selected for by the pressures of the environment,
facilitating the survival of those better suited. Over millions of years, and hundreds of thousands of
generations having repeated the process, new species are created. All life on Earth has come from
this process of selection and elimination.

My favourite, and I believe, the most convincing piece of evidence for the interconnectedness of all
life on earth comes from the study of Homology. This evidence shows the relationship and
similarities between the bone structure of various vertebrates. The bones in creatures ranging
between frogs, birds, rabbits, whales and humans show very similar structures, in slightly modied
arrangements. Its apparent that these species have all come from some very distant, common
ancestor millions of years ago.




















Diagram demonstrating homologies between the forelimbs of various tetrapods.