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Evolution: What Darwin Began


Evolution: What Darwin Began

S-N 025

Peninsula College

Fall Quarter, 2005


Course Syllabus


Instructor:  A. Coke Smith                 

Phone:  (360) 565-0151/565-1571


Class Dates and Time:  Sep 29 – Dec 08, Thursdays, 3:30PM to 5:30PM


Who could have guessed that Darwin’s abstract would have launched one of the world’s greatest debates.  Darwin’s theory of evolution is arguably the most important and powerful contributions to the scientific world, yet, sadly, evolution is also one of the most poorly understood areas of scientific study.  This course will present a detailed picture of what evolution really is and is not.  We will learn and discuss the history of evolutionary thought as well as the mounds of evidence and mechanisms for change over time.  The course will be lecture and discussion based with some readings of particular interest.


Sep 29

Introductions and Course Overview

Evolution:  Fact or Theory?  Answer:  Yes!

History of Evolutionary thought



            Buffon, Cuvier, et al




Voyage of the Beagle

Post Darwin Contributors

Mendel, DeVries, Hardy, Weinberg, Fisher, Dobzhansky, Mayr, Watson, Crick, and others!


Oct 6

Darwinian Theory

Natural Selection

            What on Earth Does Survival of the Fittest Mean?

            What is (and is not) an Adaptation?

Types of Natural Selection

Directional Selection

Disruptive Selection

Stabilizing selection

            Sexual Selection



Oct 13

Evidence of Evolution


Comparative Anatomy – Homologies and Analogies

            Vestigial Structures

            Comparative Embryology - Does Ontogeny Really Capitulate Phylogeny?        

Artificial Selection

            Pesticides, Super Bugs (Evolutionary implications come later)


Oct 20

More Evidence of Evolution


The Galapagos – A Special Case for Adaptive Radiation & Speciation

                        The Olympic Peninsula – Our Own Galapagos in Our Own Backyard!


Oct 27

Mechanisms for Change

            Mutations, Mutations and more Mutations!  The Raw Material for Evolution!

Population Genetics

                        Hardy Weinberg

                        Genetic Drift - Bottlenecks and Founder’s Effect


Nov 03

Mechanisms Continued

Geographic Isolation

                        Adaptive Radiation and Speciation

            Nonrandom Mating

            Natural Selection Revisited

Modes of Speciation

                        Sympatric Speciation

                        Allopatric Speciation

                                    Species Continua and other Trends

Isolating Mechanisms

Behavioral Isolation

Temporal Isolation

            Reproductive Isolation

            Mechanical Isolation


Nov 10

Tempo of Evolution

Gradualism vs. Punctuated Equilibrium

Patterns of Evolution

            Convergent Evolution

            Co-evolution – Symbiosis (Parasitism, Commensalism, Mutualism)

                        The Biological Arms Race - A Pharmacy in Our Forests!

                        Aposematic Coloration, Mimicry & Camouflage

            Phylogenetics and Cladistics – Trees and Clades

            The Burgess Shale and its Implications


Nov 17

Primate Evolution – Yes That Means Us Too!


Dec 01

New Advances in Evolutionary Studies

Lateral and Vertical Evolution

New Fossils and Discoveries



The Importance of Evolutionary Studies on Our Survival as a Species

            Super Bugs and Useless Drugs!


Dec 08

            Why All of the Controversy?

            The Future of Science within this Controversy

            Conclusionary Comments



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