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Elizabeth Ver Hoeve's picture

Darwin's Observations

I found that the first four chapters of “What Evolution Is” by Ernst Mayr tied directly back to the themes that we have been discussing in class. First, with regard to the “seriously loopy science” process, Mayr states, “What made Darwin such a great scientist and intellectual innovator? He was a superb observer, endowed with an insatiable curiosity. He never took anything for granted but always asked why and how”(11). Darwin’s ability to observe, be curious, and learn from observations allowed him to form new observations. I also appreciated how Mayr examined each of Darwin’s crucial observations in order to explain how he had pieced them together to come up with his theory of Evolution… the common ancestor, gradual descent, fossil records, and much more. The pictures and examples of the homologies between different organisms such as the human, cat, whale, and bat were really interesting. Last semester in Biology 101 we watched the stages of a developing chicken embryo. In that movie clip, and in reference to the diagram on page 28, the comparable similarities between a chicken and human are incredible-especially in stages one and two! I also felt that, in response to some of the other comments, Mayr talked too much about “being correct”. However, at least he followed the process of proving other theories false. Basically, chapters one through four laid the basic framework for what we should know about evolution as a story and as a process and I am looking forward to what deeper ideas the rest of the book will bring.


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