Darwin's Predictions

  • By Peter Tyson
  • Posted 11.13.07
  • NOVA

Ahead of his time is putting it moderately for Charles Darwin. The father of evolution had conjectures that were only proved, or greatly substantiated, decades after his death in 1882, in some cases not until recently. Today, evidence that unequivocally supports his theory of evolution by natural selection, along with other surmises he had, comes from an array of scientific disciplines. Here, bone up on Darwin's most prophetic ideas.

Launch Interactive Printable Version

Over 150 years later, science continues to confirm most of Darwin's conjectures.


Carroll, Sean B. 2006. Endless Forms Most Beautiful: The New Science of Evo Devo. Norton, 2006.

Carroll, Sean B. 2007. The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution. New York: Norton.

Darwin, Charles. 1859. On the Origin of Species By Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. London: John Murray.

Eldredge, Niles. 2005. Discovering the Tree of Life. New York: Norton.

Grant, Peter R. and B. Rosemary Grant. 2006. "Evolution of Character Displacement in Darwin's Finches." Science 14 July 2006 313: 224-226.

Petrie, Marion. 1994. "Improved Growth and Survival of Offspring of Peacocks With More Elaborate Trains." Nature, 1994, 371: 598-599.

Zimmer, Carl. 2001. Evolution: The Triumph of an Idea. New York: HarperCollins.



(Darwin's tree of life sketch)
from the 1837 First Notebook on Transmutation of Species by Charles Darwin
© Visuals Unlimited/Corbis
© Arjan Troost/istockphoto.com
© James Margolis/istockphoto.com
Robert Hardholt/istockphoto.com
from the 1839 Journal of Researches Into the Natural History and Geology of the Countries Visited During the Voyage of HMS Beagle Round the World, Under the Command of Captn. FitzRoy, R.N. by Charles Darwin
(DNA sketch)
Francis Crick/Courtesy Wellcome Trust
© Alexander Chelmodeev/istockphoto.com
(human embryo)
© Clouds Hill Imaging Ltd./CORBIS
© Bobbie Osborne/istockphoto.com
(immortal genes)
redrawn from The Making of the Fittest: DNA and the Ultimate Forensic Record of Evolution by Sean B. Carroll, Norton, 2006
from the 1863 Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature by Thomas Henry Huxley
(evolutionary tree)
redrawn with permission from: Pascal Gagneux et al. 1999. "Mitochondrial Sequences Show Diverse Evolutionary Histories of African Hominoids." Proc. Natl. Acad. Sci. USA ,Vol. 96, pp. 5077-5082, 27 April 1999
© Andrew Johnson istockphoto.com
© Louie Psihoyos/CORBIS
© 2004 Prem Subrahmanyam, used with permission/www.orchidstockphotos.com

Related Links

  • Fossil Evidence

    Examine five transitional species that fill so-called gaps in the fossil record.

  • Creature Courtship

    Why do males expend such time and energy to find a mate? Because of a little force of nature known as sexual selection.

  • The Zoo of You

    In this interactive, see how closely parts of your body match those in other animals, from sharks to fruit flies.

  • Becoming Human Part 1

    First Steps: Six million years ago, what set our ancestors on the path from ape to human?


You need the Flash Player plug-in to view this content.