Darwin used artificial selection, or breeding, as a demonstration of how selection for certain traits could drive evolution. Before writing "The Origin of Species," Darwin bred pigeons in order to test his theory of natural selection. He also studied the skeletons of domestic animals and questioned agricultural experts on breeding.Continue Reading
Darwin used artificial selection as a key argument to demonstrate the processes and potential of natural selection in his work "The Origin of Species". Before writing the book, he made a thorough study of artificial selection in order to guide the Victorian reader through the intellectual basis of his theory. Artificial selection is also known as breeding. All domestic plants and animals have undergone breeding by humans to produce the crops, pets, draft animals, herds and flocks seen today.
Darwin used pigeons in particular to test his theory of selection, as domestic pigeon breeds are exceptionally varied in their appearance despite all being descended from a single, and quite ordinary-looking, wild species. Pigeon breeders at the time claimed that their domestic breeds were descended from seven or eight different species, but Darwin was able to show that all of the domestic birds were descended from a common ancestor. Darwin then used the enormous variation that humans had been able to produce in pigeons over a few centuries of selection as a case study of the power of selection for certain traits.Learn more about Biology