Essay Assignments  p  r  i  n  g    2  0  0  5 

This year (2004) marks the 145th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species. As you read "The Origin" and study the material in this course, you cannot help but be impressed by the great many issues that were discussed by Charles Darwin that are to this day areas of active research and, in some cases, controversy.

As part of this course, you are required to write a short essay contrasting the views of Charles Darwin with modern ideas on a major issue in Evolutionary Biology.

The following are suggested as acceptable issues for your essay.  Issues other than these are acceptable, indeed, encouraged.  However, if you wish to write on some other issues, get approval from Dr. McCracken.

  • The importance of small versus big modifications
  • The constancy of evolutionary rates
  • The nature of species
  • The role of neutral mutations in evolution
  • The inheritance of acquired characteristics
  • The importance of geographic isolation
  • The significance of sexual reproduction
  • The occurrence of closely similar species on different continents
  • The relationships between population size, geographic range, and diversity within taxa
  • The importance of abiotic versus biotic factors in character divergence

To complete your essay, it will be necessary that you read On the Origin of Species to familiarize yourself with the ideas of Charles Darwin, and that you research the current literature on the topic of your choice.

Your essay should be typed, double spaced, and should not exceed 1200 words (approximately 5 double-spaced, typed pages). You should consult references from the scientific literature in preparing your essay, and you should provide citations to all references used. Citations do not count in the allotted 1200 words. All literature used in preparing your paper must be cited within the text of your essay AND in a "citations" section at the end of your essay.  Literature citations must follow the same format used in your textbook. Let me repeat that: citations must follow the format in your textbook. Let me repeat that again: citations must follow the format in your textbook. Hopefully, I have made that point. Do not consult with other students.

This essay will account for 10% of your final grade

Brevity in technical writing enforces the need for good organization and clarity. Therefore, I stress that the essay should not exceed 1200 words. To enforce this limit, I will deduct points from your essay in proportion to its excess of the specified 1200 word limit. If you write using a computer program that provides a word count, you should document the length of your essay.

We will be happy to review a first draft of your essay, but that first draft must be completed no later than Friday, April 12.

If you have any questions regarding this assignment, please consult with Dr. McCracken, Christen, or Arijana.

Due date for submission of the essay:


Essays will NOT be accepted after this date