Department of Teaching, Learning and Teacher Education


Date of this Version



Scharmann, L.C. (2020). Evolutionary theory in applied problem solving. The Innovation Platform, 4, 182-183.


Biology’s quest to be considered a mature science was initiated by Charles Darwin with the publication of On the Origin of Species2 in 1859. Naturalists quickly endorsed Darwin’s explanation for the relationships between similar species (i.e., common ancestry). Nonetheless, one of the arguments posed against evolution was that its supposed mechanism of action – namely natural selection – was considered conjecture at best since Darwin provided little in the way of evidence to support how natural selection might actually work. It was not until the 1930s when geneticists T.H. Morgan, Theodosius Dobzhansky, Ernst Mayr, and G. Gaylord Simpson noted that Mendel’s work from the 1850s provided the evidence necessary to explain natural selection as a mechanism of action for changes in species over time. The integration of evidence from genetics during this period became known as The Great Synthesis.