"Charles Darwin 1880" by Elliott and Fry / Public Domain

One of Darwin’s evolution theories finally proved by Cambridge researcher

Mar 18, 2020

By University of Cambridge

Scientists have proved one of Charles Darwin’s theories of evolution for the first time—nearly 140 years after his death.

Laura van Holstein, a Ph.D. student in Biological Anthropology at St John’s College, University of Cambridge, and lead author of the research published today (March 18) in Proceedings of the Royal Society B, discovered mammal subspecies play a more important role in evolution than previously thought.

Her research could now be used to predict which species conservationists should focus on protecting to stop them becoming endangered or extinct.

A species is a group of animals that can interbreed freely amongst themselves. Some species contain subspecies—populations within a species that differ from each other by having different physical traits and their own breeding ranges. Northern giraffes have three subspecies that usually live in different locations to each other and red foxes have the most subspecies—45 known varieties—spread all over the world. Humans have no subspecies.

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