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In each generation, many offspring fail to survive to an age of reproduction because of limited resources.This could explain the diversity of plants and animals from a common ancestry through the working of natural laws in the same way for all types of organism.Repeated formation of new species (speciation), change within species (anagenesis), and loss of species (extinction) throughout the evolutionary history of life on Earth are demonstrated by shared sets of morphological and biochemical traits, including shared DNA sequences.These shared traits are more similar among species that share a more recent common ancestor, and can be used to reconstruct a biological "tree of life" based on evolutionary relationships (phylogenetics), using both existing species and fossils.In particular, Georges Cuvier insisted that species were unrelated and fixed, their similarities reflecting divine design for functional needs.In the meantime, Ray's ideas of benevolent design had been developed by William Paley into the Natural Theology or Evidences of the Existence and Attributes of the Deity (1802), which proposed complex adaptations as evidence of divine design and which was admired by Charles Darwin.At the end of 1859, Darwin's publication of his "abstract" as On the Origin of Species explained natural selection in detail and in a way that led to an increasingly wide acceptance of Darwin's concepts of evolution at the expense of alternative theories.Thomas Henry Huxley applied Darwin's ideas to humans, using paleontology and comparative anatomy to provide strong evidence that humans and apes shared a common ancestry.

Moreover, previously held notions about evolution, such as orthogenesis, evolutionism, and other beliefs about innate "progress" within the largest-scale trends in evolution, became obsolete.

which envisaged spontaneous generation continually producing simple forms of life that developed greater complexity in parallel lineages with an inherent progressive tendency, and postulated that on a local level these lineages adapted to the environment by inheriting changes caused by their use or disuse in parents.

These ideas were condemned by established naturalists as speculation lacking empirical support.

Variations of this idea became the standard understanding of the Middle Ages and were integrated into Christian learning, but Aristotle did not demand that real types of organisms always correspond one-for-one with exact metaphysical forms and specifically gave examples of how new types of living things could come to be.

In the 17th century, the new method of modern science rejected the Aristotelian approach.

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