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Featured articleEvolution is a featured article; it (or a previous version of it) has been identified as one of the best articles produced by the Wikipedia community. Even so, if you can update or improve it, please do so.
Main Page trophyThis article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page as Today's featured article on March 18, 2005.
Did You Know Article milestones
February 4, 2005Featured article candidatePromoted
August 17, 2005Featured article reviewKept
February 7, 2007Featured article reviewDemoted
May 31, 2007Peer reviewReviewed
June 10, 2007Featured article candidatePromoted
Did You Know A fact from this article appeared on Wikipedia's Main Page in the "Did you know?" column on October 12, 2007.
The text of the entry was: Did you know ...that the Great Wall of China has impacted the process of evolution in plants?
Current status: Featured article

Short description[edit]

Per WP:SDESC, I've reverted a revert to a change to the article's short description, changing it back from "a Change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations" to "Change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations". This description is shorter and more concise (as well as properly capitalized), making it follow the guidelines (however it could, and should, be shorter). ~ Eejit43 (talk) 04:28, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

short descriptions cut off after 50 characters Dunkleosteus77 (talk) 06:06, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
no they don't. lettherebedarklight晚安 06:15, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
WP:SDFORMAT "Short descriptions exceeding 40 characters may be truncated in some contexts" Dunkleosteus77 (talk) 06:19, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Exactly, so it should be shortened even further. I'll think about alternatives, but anyone can feel free to change it. ~ Eejit43 (talk) 12:50, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I did the reversion as I did not think the new wording was descriptive. I reviewed many definitions online and came up with "How species adapt over generations to their environment". It's 48 characters. I'll make the edit now. Efbrazil (talk) 16:22, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That is much better, it is actually 55 characters, but that is visible on most devices, so that should be fine. ~ Eejit43 (talk) 16:34, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"How species adapt over generations to their environment" is only part of biological evolution. I don't feel the new short description distinguishes evolution from related articles, like adaptation. Kardoen (talk) 16:43, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That is a valid point; how about something similar to the article such as "Change in heritable characteristics over generations"? ~ Eejit43 (talk) 16:55, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Wording I came up with is 48 characters if you don't count the spaces.
I don't like "Change in heritable characteristics over generations" as it doesn't describe what evolution does as a function. It's not any change in heritable characteristics, it's the mechanism for adaptation to the environment. Keep in mind that the goal is 50 characters that describe what evolution is (not what it is not, ie adaptation). So, in other words, I still prefer my wording. Efbrazil (talk) 17:01, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Ah well sadly spaces are included but that doesn't matter. Nonetheless, Kardoen does have a good point, differentiating it from adaptation is a good idea. ~ Eejit43 (talk) 17:37, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Also, if what I proposed isn't fully accurate, the article's introduction might need to be expanded, as it states "Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations". ~ Eejit43 (talk) 17:46, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
"Heritable" implies "generations", so if the shortening is needed, that is ok. It is certainly not how species adapt. This would include cultures, such as apes, etc have.--Andrew Lancaster (talk) 18:42, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Do you think that the current short description is alright? It is a bit long, but that is alright if it is needed to properly describe the article. ~ Eejit43 (talk) 19:04, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It is not correct to say "Change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations"- that applies whether there is evolution pressures or not (genetic drift). If prayer turned apple trees into cherry trees and change was heritable, would that be evolution? What people want is a synopsis of the theory of evolution here, after all that's what the article is all about and what online sources talk about.
I changed it to "How inherited characteristics of a species change to fit their environment", which is a bit longer but at least describes what's going on. We could use words like "Genes" to shorten it, but that's going to be gobblygook to anybody who doesn't know what evolution is. Efbrazil (talk) 20:07, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It doesn't necessarily affect a whole species, isn't population more correct there? ~ Eejit43 (talk) 20:25, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
That would be fine too (although again, letter count), I mostly just don't think we should be abandoning the idea of adaptation or fitness when we define the word. Also, when evolution is talked about it is usually at a population size that includes all interbreeding members, and that generally means species, unless populations of a species are separated.
I realize I'm somewhat arguing with how the article itself is written, so if people disagree with this change as well I'll take a step back. My concern is that we're pushing a definition that is really about a conceptual space, not about what people are coming to the article for. We had a similar debate on the climate change page, where many people want to define climate change in a general way "e.g. a climate that has changes", and not define it in terms people reading the article actually want, which is the common usage of the term, and also what the entire article is actually about. We should probably do a similar fix to this page as was done there. Efbrazil (talk) 20:46, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I agree that most people will probably be looking for evolutionary adaptation when coming to the article. But there is a lot of misconception in the general public around evolution being just adaptation. Because of that I think it merits a short description that does not heavily lean into only evolutionary adaptation in lieu of a more general meaning of evolution. Kardoen (talk) 21:30, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
It's not any change in heritable characteristics, it's the mechanism for adaptation to the environment.
No, that is mutation and natural selection. Evolution is actually defined as change in heritable characteristics, and we quote that definition in the first sentence. Besides adaptive evolution, there is also the neutral theory of molecular evolution and sexual selection. Both are types of evolution but not adaptive. So is Spandrel (biology). --Hob Gadling (talk) 21:42, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
@Efbrazil: by suggesting that genetic drift is not evolution it seems you believe that real evolution has a "direction", and that "nature" acts as if it was intelligent, and adapting its strategies. That might have been how evolution was once seen but I think there are logical problems with that approach and it is no longer what we mean by this term. If, on the other hand, prayer really could cause change in the characteristics which organisms inherited then I'm not sure why it wouldn't be seen as something to discuss in this article? Fact is that it doesn't. My comparison to learned behaviours in animal populations was in contrast not an imaginary example but something which really happens, and which really needs to be clearly distinguished from the topic of this article. I think the comparison to climate change is also a concern at first sight. Evolution is a scientific term and not a "hot topic" in popular culture? I think evolution is clearly a topic where the latest scientific understanding needs to be the standard, and not this or that popular debate.
@Eejit43: I am ok with the short or long version, but not with the "how species adapt" version. I think it is wrong. Evolution concerns types of change which are not defined by any direction, but by the fact that they are inheritable. Terms like "adaptation" should be seen as metaphorical because what drives the change is not changes in strategy, but simply different individuals succeeding or failing to breed. --Andrew Lancaster (talk) 22:02, 8 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Oh no I completely agree with you on that, yes. The currently displayed version is what I believe is best as well. ~ Eejit43 (talk) 00:11, 9 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Expansion of "Social and cultural responses"[edit]

I would suggest the heading may be expanded. It is currently the smallest heading within the article. In find this reasonable due to evolution probably being one of the scientific theories who has had the largest non-scientific impact on human life and perception. It could be expanded with status in different world regions, recognition within major religions, a public support chart, and/or a mention of its impact on philosophy.--Marginataen (talk) 23:36, 19 December 2022 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Wiki Education assignment: 2023SP Communication Research Methods[edit]

Sciences humaines.svg This article is currently the subject of a Wiki Education Foundation-supported course assignment, between 15 January 2023 and 11 May 2023. Further details are available on the course page. Student editor(s): Andrewgarcia1973.

— Assignment last updated by Andrewgarcia1973 (talk) 04:39, 21 February 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

Proposed change to lead[edit]

Evolution occurs when evolutionary processes such as [[natural selection]] (including [[sexual selection]]) and [[genetic drift]] act on this variation, resulting in certain characteristics becoming more common or more rare within a population.
Evolution occurs when evolutionary processes such as [[natural selection]] and [[genetic drift]] act on this variation, resulting in certain characteristics becoming more common or more rare within a population.

This text is unnecessary, there is nothing indicating that natural selection wouldn't include sexual selection. — Treetoes023 (talk) 17:21, 9 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]

I agree. Genome42 (talk) 18:21, 9 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
Disagree on not mentioning sexual selection in the lead somewhere. If it gets moved to a separate sentence instead I'd be happy with that. Far too often evolution is cast in terms of "survival of the fittest". That phrasing makes people think simply in terms of whichever animal is fastest or strongest being the winner because they survive while the other does not. Sexual selection was a major revelation and a controversial line of thought when discovered because it empowered females, who typically take on more of the burden of raising offspring. It also explained features not explainable otherwise and which creationists held up as counter examples, with the classic example being a peacock's feathers. Efbrazil (talk) 20:53, 9 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
The main purpose of this article is to explain evolution to the general reader. We start off with a simple introduction to the basic definition of evolution as a change at the level of genes (alleles). Natural selection and genetic drift account for most of those allele changes in all species including bacteria, protozoa, fungi, and plants.
Sexual selection is a form of natural selection that can be mostly observed in organisms with eyes who exhibit sexual dimorphism and those organisms represent only a tiny percentage of all organisms and therefore only a (very) tiny percentage of all of evolution over the past three billion years. It doesn't need to be mentioned in the lead because it just perpetuates the misleading idea that evolution is only about big animals and morphological differences.
BTW, Charles Darwin described sexual selection in Origin in the chapter on "Natural Selection" and his description included bird plumage. That was in 1859 and I don't think it was a "major revelation," especially in comparison to the main theme of the book. Genome42 (talk) 22:53, 9 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]
I don't agree that there is an idea out there that evolution is only about big animals. It's always talked about in terms of diseases and the immune system for instance. Where do you get that idea from?
I also fundamentally disagree that gender is unimportant in evolution. Gender supercharged evolutionary processes in several ways, and it is unlikely there would be large, complex creatures without it. Introductory texts on evolution always feature the issue. Relative to other literature, we are under emphasizing it.
For instance, consider how PBS/NOVA covered evolution here. 7 hours of content, 1 hour dedicated exclusively to sex:
If you are looking to make cuts, how about the last paragraph of the lead? It's mostly just fluff and generalities. Efbrazil (talk) 16:18, 10 March 2023 (UTC)Reply[reply]