Charles Darwin and Evolution Theory

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To give an explanation for the universe and the existence of man, scientists over time have come up with different concepts. However, scientists from across the globe preserve on to the evolution theory developed by Charles Darwin in 1859 explaining the starting place of species. Evolution is the change in innate characteristics of the biotic populace over succeeding generations over the years. In the book, ‘On the Origin of Species,’ Darwin indicates that all the species originated from simpler types to more complex even though retaining some physical and behavioral traits. As time passed, most of the herbal resources became restrained and different species had to struggle for survival. Different species obtained various changes due to the feeding habits and the habitats. The changes allowed the organisms to fit and adapt, survive and produce more offspring. As a result, there was a repeated emergence of new species from time to time, extinction of the already existing species and anagenesis which is change within a given species. The evidence of evolution among species is seen in some shared biochemical and morphological traits which are inclusive of some shared DNA strands (Gadagkar, Raghavendra, 513). The comparative study of different species amongst their geographic distribution and that obtained from the remains of the fossils in a given area is thus compelling to the knowledge of evolution. This led to the emergence of different cultures among the species and in particular the animals. While the theories of development try to explain the cultural phenomena, cultural evolution is based on inheritance mechanisms across all species and their genetic inheritance. To illustrate this, the human mind has been developing to suit the current times and solve the emerging issues and events. The conventional process in the human brain has been taking place retaining genetically inherited distinctions through natural selection; the evolving of organisms to suit the changing environments over time.

Cultural inheritance and natural selection

The initial models of cultural evolution draw categorical equivalents between culture and genes through modification of concepts from population genetics theory and apply them to culture. Transmissions of cultural patterns, innovations, selection and random fluctuations are theoretically analogous to genomic processes. Different models have been put in place in efforts to explain the phenomena of generic as well as cultural evolution among different species. One of them is the mathematical model which describes the differences between the cultural and genetic transmissions. In the mathematical model, the hereditary transmission is assumed not to follow the social transfers. Indeed, the model concludes that the cultural characteristics in most cases ignore the three laws of the Mendelian principle; dominance, segregation and independent assortment (Creanza, Nicole, et al, 1783). Cultural traits do not confirm to the Mendelian principle of inheritance in explaining cultural evolution. In simple observation, cultural development is more complicated than the genetic evolution. For instance, for a child born with both parents that have either similar or different culture but opts to reject the two cultures choosing their style, will weaken the cultures. Similarly, the child is likely to be affected by the population that surrounds him making him adapt more to different cultures from his ancestors. Equally, the child compared with his age bracket share a similar genetic makeup despite the cultural differences among them. The cultural traits are therefore more so affected by the society, environment among other factors. While the genetic inheritance is only achieved from parent to child that is vertical transmission, cultural heritage on the other hand can occur from other members of the society such as peers to be exact, oblique and horizontal transmissions as illustrated in the figure below. Cultural evolution has been achieved from social learnings where the size of the population plays a significant role.

Figure 1: Illustration of genetic and cultural transmissions among humans (Creanza, Nicole et al, 1784)

According to the evolution theory, in the beginning, the human population were herbivores; only feeding on wild fruits. As a result of competition from other animals, the man advanced and started feeding on specific herbivores and small animals. Due to harsh environmental conditions, and advanced competition from other animals, he had to come up with different means for survival to satisfy the growing population. This led to a complete change of culture among the humankind to a more complex form of migration from the bushes, construction, dressing, cooking among others (Lindenfors, Patrik, et al, 117). Similar to genetic hereditary, cultural characteristics can either be more or less adaptive. The adaptability of these cultures highly depends on the spread of the population and the environment. Conversely, cultural evolution occurs through some scales which are not limited to social learning, entry of information to a society, and interactions with the environment.

Figure 2: Illustration of the effect of different factors on cultural evolution (Creanza, Nicole et al, 1785)

Is culture just a human phenomenon?

A lot has been done on the human cultural evolutions aiming at tracing their cradle and the relation with other species leaving very little literature on other living things. From the early man to the current, Homo sapiens sapiens. With the drastic change in the environment across the globe affecting different populations of animals, it would be selfish of us, humans, to assume that we are the only ones with a changed culture better for survival (Wilson et al., 229). Over an extended period, several species have been going through extinction with others facing the same threat, from dinosaurs which are now in archives to the white rhinos.

Human beings are not the only species to have a cultural transmission from one generation to another (Lindenfors, Patrik, et al, 116 ). However, due to the uniqueness of the human culture in different aspects, it remains to be the dominant cultural evolution. For example, it is the culture with diverse accumulation of information while other species have not established social transmissions in culture. Over the years, the human culture has been changing with the emergence of new trends and technology which is different from the animal species. The humankind has been taking control of the universe directing other species to behave according to their will. Domestication of animals is one of the efforts put by humans to change the wild behaviors of domestic animals, pets. Other species monitored by humans are the zoo animals and sanctuary birds (Mason, Nicholas, et al., 787). Though this is a culture shock from the wild to a confined environment, it cannot be termed as cultural evolution but a mediation change of culture. Contrary to the human culture change which is effective globally, the culture of other species is not socially transmitted. This is evident from the view that a tamed dog behaves differently from a wild dog, if the two are put together over a significant amount of time, there will be no cultural interaction. This is different from the human beings who are likely to learn socially from others and adapt to a new culture and change if need be.

Cultural evolution among other species is evident mostly from the feeding habits where some animals have adapted a mechanism of taking both small amounts and others large numbers of feeds at a go when available. More so, other animals have changed over time to adapt to the current environment, reproduce and survive. This is evident among the aquatic animals who are still surviving despite the high levels of pollution in our water bodies. This is more of the physical characteristics and the genetic make-up than the cultural changes.

In conclusion, though cultural evolution among other animal species is not socially transmitted across the population, there is need for more study regarding the same. Reviews in the area may help incorporate health cultural norms among the animals facing the extinction challenge thus saving them. With the complex nature of the human mind, it would be more helpful if cultural evolution among animals is used in preserving the animals facing extinction other than holding them in cages. Many questions rise from the evolution culture; can it save the endangered species? Has it affected the existence of other species with their geographical locations? Though cultural transmission is more expressed among the human population, it is not right to assume it is a humankind affair.


Anagenesis: formation of species without splitting of evolutionary line of decency

DNA strands: strains of genetic information

Genome: set of genetic material contained by a cell or an organism

Mendelian principle: is a fundamental theory of heredity

Species: similar living organisms which are capable of interbreeding

Works Cited

Creanza, Nicole et al. “Cultural Evolutionary Theory: How Culture Evolves And Why It

Matters.” Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, vol 114, no. 30, 2017, pp. 7782-7789. Proceedings Of The National Academy Of Sciences, doi:10.1073/pnas.1620732114.

Gadagkar, Raghavendra. “The Evolution of Culture (Or the Lack Thereof): Mapping the Conceptual

Space.” Journal of Genetics, vol. 96, no. 3, July 2017, pp. 513-516. EBSCOhost, doi:10.1007/s12041-017-0795-6.

Lindenfors, Patrik, et al. “An Empirical Study of Cultural Evolution: The Development of European

Cookery from Medieval to Modern Times.” Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical & Mathematical History, vol. 6, no. 2, July 2015, pp. 115-129. EBSCOhost,

Mason, Nicholas A., et al. “Song evolution, speciation, and vocal learning in passerine

birds.” Evolution 71.3 (2017): 786-796.

Portin, Petter. “A Comparison of Biological and Cultural Evolution.” Journal of Genetics, vol. 94, no. 1,

Mar. 2015, pp. 155-168. EBSCOhost,

Wilson, David Sloan and Harvey Whitehouse. “Developing the Field Site Concept for the Study of

Cultural Evolution.” Cliodynamics: The Journal of Theoretical & Mathematical History, vol. 7, no. 2, July 2016, pp. 228-287. EBSCOhost, doi:10.21237/C7clio7233542.

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