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The Origin of Species

In The Origin of Species, Darwin provided abundant evidence that life on Earth has evolved over time, and he proposed natural selection as the primary mechanism for that change. He observed that individuals in their inherited traits and that selection acts on such differences, leading to change. Although Darwin realized that variation in heritable traits is a for evolution, he did not know precisely how organisms pass heritage traits to their offspring. Just a few years after Darwin published The Origin of Species, Gregor Mendel wrote a ground-breaking paper on inheritance in pea plants. In that paper, Mendel proposed a model of inheritance in which organisms transmit discrete heritable units to their offspring. Although Darwin did not know about genes, Mendel’s paper set the stage for understanding the genetic differences on which evolution is based.