One might think that—as in so many other areas of evolutionary biology—we could look to Darwin for clarity.


But in the first edition of On the Origin of Species, the term “evolution” never appears (though the last word of the book is “evolved”**); not until the sixth edition does Darwin use “evolution.” Rather, Darwin’s term of choice is “descent with modification,” a simple phrase that captures the essence of what evolutionary biology is all about: the study of the transformation of species through time, including both changes that occur within species, as well as the origin of new species. (Jonathan Losos, Princeton University)

Doing an “ADVANCED SEARCH” in the Washington Post of the past two weeks reveals 38 uses of the word evolution. Do the Republicans in Congress, who at least act as if they did not believe in Evolution, ever read the Post? or do the frequent uses of the word, implying perhaps an acceptance of the theory, keep them from doing so?

I have listed the 38 excerpts containing the word evolution below. The most common uses of the word were:

  1. the evolution of one’s thinking, often in these examples the “thinking” of President Trump that seems to be constantly changing, if not evolving.
  2. the evolution of food, fashion, design etc., changes envisioned or made, —the evolution of the iPhone, now the iPhone X (ten), for example.
  3. then there is, of course, Darwinian evolution itself, appearing in these Post articles a good number of times, the presence and importance of evolution, and evolutionary science, to our own 21st. century flying in the face of the obsolete positions of two individuals, mentioned below, Alabama’s Ray Moore, and Turkey’s Recep Tayyip Erdogan, both having in effect quit the modern world in which many of us still live, and returned incomprehensibly to the customs and beliefs of the Middle Ages. Homosexuality? no such thing. Marriage of two men or two women, outlawed at the very least, if not given a sentence of death.

‘I can no longer ask our team to not say anything’: Raiders owner Mark Davis  explained the evolution of his thinking to ESPN’s Paul Gutierrez.   Cindy Boren · Sports · Sep 24, 2017 

After German vote, Europe can turn to patching euro’s flaws, “The opportunity in 2018 would be more a natural evolution of the process that has been ongoing… David McHugh | AP · Foreign · Sep 23, 2017

An elephant who texted for help and other tales of animals on the move…Does evolution bring the same results no matter what …. Priyanka Kumar · BookWorld · Sep 22, 2017 

As the Sweetgreen revolution rolls on, fresh and local remain the focus… “We’re big believers in constant evolution,” says Jammet, a trailblazer in the industry.  Tom Sietsema · Food · Sep 22, 2017 

The African American Museum a year later: Still the hottest ticket in town….underground was a virtue-of-necessity response to the evolution of the museum during the design and review process, Philip Kennicott · Style · Sep 22, 2017 

Milan fashion meets global crises with lightness Max Mara designs were an evolution of the brand’s trademark monochromes,  Colleen Barry | AP · Entertainment · Sep 21, 2017 

Roy Moore disrupts U.S. Senate race in Alabama — and prepares for new level of defiance in Washington…. “There is no such thing as evolution,” he said at one point as he waited for his lunch.  Michael Scherer · National-Politics · Sep 21, 2017

Evolution is Fake and Homosexuality Should be Illegal, Roy Moore, Alabama Senate Candidate.
Marcia Sago, left, with Kathy McCarthy, prays before Moore’s rally in Florence. (Nathan Morgan for The Washington Post)


Neanderthal children were slow to grow up —just like modern kids… Katerina Harvati, an expert in Neanderthal evolution at the University of Tubingen in Germany… Ben Guarino · National/health-science · Sep 21, 2017

Transcript: Transformers Health… how we at Philips look at the evolution of healthcare. Both the pretty and maybe the… Washington Post Live · Postlive · Sep 21, 2017 

Can you pick out a Snallygaster beer based on its tasting notes? … properly cellared to allow for further flavor evolution. Bourbon Barrel Aged, 2015 (Westbrook)  Rudi Greenberg · Express · Sep 21, 2017

The Energy 202: The United States and Syria are now the only two countries out of the Paris climate accord…space probe called Mars Atmosphere and Volatile Evolution, or MAVEN, sent to measure the planet’s atmosphere.  Dino Grandoni · powerpost · Sep 21, 2017

Can the Giants, Seahawks and Texans fix their broken offensive lines? They’d better … and fast.… “I wonder if that’s the next evolution of this.”   Mark Maske · Sports · Sep 21, 2017 

Three stunning gardens that will change the way you think about fall….She is also the author of “On Walnut Hill: The Evolution of a Garden.” Kathy Hudson · Magazine · Sep 21, 2017

Suffolk native interprets Frederick Douglass’ words… “I realized everything I’ve done all my life was an evolution for this.” Douglass spoke for an hour about his escapes, about his marriages, about his five children. He explained why he got involved with not only abolitionism but women’s rights. He spoke of unity, of the need to include everyone in a discussion and not create false boundaries like gender and race.   Denise M. Watson | AP · Regional · Sep 20, 2017

Dog’s discomfort triggers compulsive behavior… In the journal Nature Ecology and Evolution, an international team of scientists recently…Michael W. Fox · LocalLiving · Sep 19, 2017

Mond, Aggies look to improve for start of SEC play… last two weeks his teammates have also seen his evolution as a passer. “He’s definitely (shown) poise …Kristie Rieken | AP · Sports · Sep 19, 2017 

Does the road to Broadway pass through Beijing? … it would be a landmark in the evolution of the fledgling musical-theater industry in China.  Peter Marks · Style · Sep 19, 2017 

Lego’s plastic bricks transformed childhood. Are they sturdy enough to survive screens?… Lego came to reflect the evolution of childhood imagination around the world… Ian Shapira · Local · Sep 19, 2017 

Mutant butterflies reveal the genetic roots of colorful wings….written and rewritten over millions of years of evolution, persisting across butterfly species…..Ben Guarino · National/health-science · Sep 19, 2017

How white supremacy went global…. social Darwinism – a flawed application of species evolution that claimed human subgroups were biologically distinct and in constant competition — to legitimize the concept of a hierarchy of races. R. Joseph Parrott · Opinions · Sep 19, 2017 

Literally lousy: Parasite plagues world salmon industry…  “Our work has to be quicker than the evolution of the lice,” said Jake Elliott, Patrick Whittle | AP · Foreign · Sep 18, 2017 

Tom Wilson wants to seize a top-six role; the Capitals want to see more goals…. “The next step in his evolution – he has that physical element, he’s reliable, Isabelle Khurshudyan · Sports · Sep 18, 2017 

Who is the most dominant athlete in his game over the last decade? …70 is the new 60. One day – because of evolution, better nutrition and medical breakthroughs – Norman Chad · Sports · Sep 17, 2017

Uproar in Turkey over removing evolution from biology class….Next Fall evolution (and Charles Darwin) will be taught for the last time in their biology classes,…Zeynep Bilginsoy | AP · Foreign · Sep 17, 2017

Turkish schoolchildren will no longer be taught about evolution, in another sign of the conservative direction the country is heading in under President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

Montez throws 4 TD passes, Colorado beats N Colorado 41-21a wide open Shay Fields. All part of Montez’s evolution. Montez threw for a career-high 357 yards…Pat Graham | AP · Sports · Sep 16, 2017

‘Narcos’ scout found shot to death while exploring filming sites in Mexico… cocaine business, so there is sort of a natural evolution there.   Amy B Wang · Lifestyle · Sep 16, 2017

The latest in the ‘Destiny’ series is more inviting than ever….the expectation of being the next stage in the evolution of first-person shooters. Christopher Byrd · Entertainment · Sep 14, 2017

Mattis’ message: US is not intimidated by North Korea… Mattis has previously indicated this evolution in thinking, …Robert Burns | AP · National · Sep 14, 2017

Watch an electric eel zap a biologist in the name of science….As the animals gradually get closer to a target, then slip farther and farther out of the water, they’d deliver progressively more powerful jolts. “The circuitry explains how this would evolve,” Catania said. Ben Guarino · National/health-science · Sep 14, 2017

You asked if anyone wants to deport ‘dreamers,’ President Trump: Yes. Your base….Trump is making a more nuanced case reflecting the evolution he himself seems to have gone through over this…Philip Bump · Politics · Sep 14, 2017 

10 things to do in D.C., Maryland and Virginia from Sept. 14 to 20… National Museum of American History explores the evolution of Memphis music – from blues and soul to hip- …Kristen Page-Kirby, Lori McCue and Rudi Greenberg · Express · Sep 14, 2017 

Tunisian women’s rights plan rattles Muslim traditionalists…. The only moderate Islam is that which recognizes the need and the right not only to interpretation but also to evolution,” he said, calling the battle for renewing religious discourse “the mother of all battles.”…Bouazza Ben Bouazza | AP · Foreign · Sep 13, 2017 

Trump’s push for tax cuts is coming up against a familiar challenge: … ceiling shift signifies a remarkable political evolution for Trump…. Damian Paletta, Sean Sullivan and Kelsey Snell · National-Politics · Sep 12, 2017

First impressions of the iPhone X:   iPhone X looks like an evolution of the iPhone, it doesn’t feel like an evolution -Hayley Tsukayama · Business/technology · Sep 12, 2017 

How America’s culture wars have evolved into a class war…one Karl Marx might have predicted. Much of this evolution has to do with a widening gap between members…James Davison Hunter · Opinions · Sep 12, 2017 

The White Company’s monochrome aesthetic come to the US… The White Company’s evolution has mirrored my own life events – pretty yet comfortable…Katherine Roth | AP · Lifestyle · Sep 12, 2017.

Trump’s 9/11 message evolves along with his responsibilities… The briefing could mark another step in Trump’s evolution, offering a fresh reminder that he now is the one most responsible for keeping the nation safe,…Jonathan Lemire | AP · Washington · Sep 12, 2017

** There is grandeur in this view of life, with its several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into one; and that, whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixed law of gravity, from so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being, evolved.


One thought on “Evolution”

  1. I’ve become fascinated with evolution, perhaps as an extension of my love of history. Have you read Dawkin’s “The Ancester’s Tale”? It got me started on my evolutionary track reading about evolutionary biology, which led to an interest in reading about pre-history (thanks to the genome project). You’ve inspired me to try reading “The Origin of Species”. I picked up an early edition of the book at an estate sale on the Cape. Clearly the seller didn’t know what he had in the estate collection, as he sold me the Darwin book and an original book of Longfellow’s poems bound in leather for a buck each. Nice column, Philip.


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