Learning ObjectivesUnderstand the connection between genetics and evolutionDarwin Meets Mendel—Not LiterallyWhen Darwin came up with his theories of evolution and natural selection, he knew that the processes he was describing depended on heritable variation in populations. That is, they relied on differences in the features of the organisms in a population and on the ability of these different features to be passed on to offspring.
Our consideration of how life began on earth was intentionally placed at the end of this textbook, after we tried to get a handle on how cells work. Clearly any understanding of life origins scenarios is very much a matter of informed, if divergent speculations. Alternative notions for the origins of life entertained here all address events that presaged life under ‘best-guess’ hypothetical conditions.