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Learning about evolution - Vocabulary and terms

What is evolution?

Process of change through time

What is geological evolution?

How the earth has changed through time

What is organic evolution?

How living things have changed through time

What is the theory of evolution?

Provides an explanation for the structure, function and behavior of life forms

What are fossils?

Remains of organisms preserved in substances such as sedimentary rocks, amber, ice and or tar

What is relative dating?

An estimated age of fossils but not exact (from modern to older and primitive) Regarding the rock or item preserving the fossil

What is absolute dating?

A technique used to determine the actual age of a fossil. Uses radioactive carbon 14

What does carbon 14 change into?

Carbon 12

What is half life?

How long it takes half of a radioactive sample to decay

If two fossils are found in the same deposit of sedimentary rock, how can you determine which fossil is older?

The fossils more near the bottom are the oldest while the fossils closest to the top and the newest

If a fossil of unknown age is found, how can you determine its relative age?

By looking how far down in the rock that the fossil is

What general statement can you make about the age of rock layers?

The farther down, the older the fossils while the closer up, the newer fossils

What are comparative studies?

Looking for basic similarities in organisms

What is comparative cytology?

Comparing cells and their structure among organisms

What is comparative biochemistry?

Comparing molecules and chemical reactions

Give an example of comparative biochemistry?

DNA molecules from mice and humans

What is comparative anatomy?

Comparing parts of different organisms

What are homologus structures?

Parts of an organism are similar to other organisms but the function is not

What is an example of a homologus structure?

The leg of a turtle compared to the wing of a bird

What are vestigial structures?

A structure in an organism that no longer functions

What are some examples of vestigial structures?

Wisdom teeth, appendix, tail bones and pinkie toes

What are analogous structures?

Two organisms that are similar in function but not in structure - no evidence of a common ancestor

What is an example of an analogous structure?

A chicken wing and a butterfly wing

What is Charles Darwin's naval vessel called?

HMS Beagle

What did Darwin use this vessel for?

His scientific expedition to chart the coastline of South America

How long did Darwin's expedition of South America last?

Five years

Which animal went over from the mainland and adapted to each different island through evolution after a long period of time?


What book did Darwin publish?

The Origin Of Species

When did Darwin publish his book?


What was Darwin's book on?

The theory of evolution based on variation and natural selection

How old is the earth?

4.5 Billion years old

How old are the oldest fossils?

3.5 Billion years old

Which (older or younger fossils) show more variety and complexity?


What do all organisms have?

A common ancestor

What is an example of a fossil that shows characteristics of two or more modern organisms?

Archeopteryx which is a fossil reptile with bird like characteristics

What is an example of a fossil that shows a transitional series of changes in fossil records?


Fill in the blanks: "_____ organisms evolved from the _______________"

Modern; Earliest most primitive

What is overproduction?

When more offspring are produced than can possibly survive within a population

Explain competition between species?

The struggle of existence because living space and food are essential, offspring in each generation must compete amongst themselves and other species for necessities of life; only some can survive until the reproductive age.

Explain natural selection in a given environment?

Survival of the fittest; when species are lucky enough to inherit a feature that gives them an advantage and are more likely to survive and reproduce than others in the population.

What is reproduction?

When individuals that survive and reproduce and transmit their variations to their offspring.

Explain speciation?

Formation of a new species over many generations. Adaptions gradually accumulate in the species and unfavorable ones disappear until a new species develop.

What is geographic isolation?

Being separated by geographic barriers.

What are some examples of geographic isolation?

Mountains, Deserts, Oceans and Roads

What is adaptive radiation?

Many different types of organisms that evolve from a common ancestor.

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