Although mankind’s presence on this planet has been comparatively short relative to that of many species sharing it with us, we have built a society that has and is flourishing. Over time our grasp on our surroundings has increasingly become more complex and through science and technology we have shaped our environment as much as it has shaped us. The discovery of fire, the agricultural revolution, the advance of medicine, and the harnessing of energy are some examples of a species aiming to take control of its environment for meeting its goal of survival. These advances are built upon a foundation of knowledge that has helped facilitate population growth. The theory of natural selection and how environments interact with populations seems intuitive now, but was not made explicit with empirical observational evidence until ideas of Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace arrived in 1859 and Gregor Mendel’s experiments in plant hybridization in 1866. Darwin described how wet and dry seasons in the Galapagos islands favored finch populations with different beaks, an example of how the environment can shape a species’ population and survival. Mendel laid the groundwork for modern genetics through experimentation with peas. These figures brought knowledge to society about how our environment and genetics are interrelated. Learning and memory is a major catalyst for allowing a species to take control of its environment. It is the foundation from which conscious living arises and is therefore pivotal for our species interpretation for quality of life.

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C.I. de Zeeuw (Chris)
Erasmus University Rotterdam
Erasmus MC: University Medical Center Rotterdam

Owens, C. (2013, October 9). Neural representations of sensory discrimination. Retrieved from