Evolution by natural selection
must have a mechanism.
Darwin knew in his heart that
evolution by natural selection happened, but he didn't know how. In fact, he proposed a mechanism of heredity that
proved to be dead wrong, something he called pangenesis. Ironically, the actual
mechanism of heredity—genetics—was revealed in Darwin's
lifetime, though he never knew it. Working with pea plants, the Austrian priest
Gregor Mendel discovered the fundamental laws of genetics in 1865. But
Mendel's work was neglected until 1900, and it wasn't until the
1940s that scientists identified DNA as the genetic material (here, Francis
Crick's first sketch of DNA's double helix structure). Today, the
clear focus of the revolutions now under way in genetics, medicine, and other
fields is on the genomes of living organisms.