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Charles Darwin studied the giant tortoises (above) on the Galapagos Islands. Observations that Darwin made during his voyage on the HMS Beagle (right) led him to look for a mechanism by which evolution occurs.

Archeologists (above) scrutinize fossilized remains of human ancestors for clues to human evolution. Darwin observed a number of finches (right) on the Galapagos Islands and found that each species was adapted to a different food source.

Archeologists (above) scrutinize fossilized remains of human ancestors for clues to human evolution. Darwin observed a number of finches (right) on the Galapagos Islands and found that each species was adapted to a different food source.

14 History of Life

Biogenesis

Th e principle of biogenesis (BIE-oh-JEN-uh-sis), which states that all living things come from other living things, seems very reasonable to us today. Before the seventeenth century, however, it was widely thought that living things could also arise from nonliving things in a process called spontaneous generation. This seemed to explain why maggots appeared on rotting meat and why fish appeared in ponds that had been dry the previous season—people thought mud might have given rise to the fish. In attempting to learn more about the process of spontaneous generation, scientists performed controlled experiments. As you read about these experiments, refer to the figures that show the experimental design.

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