Highly Evolved Facts About Evolution

Evolution is a complicated topic. What is evolution? Is evolution real? Is evolution proven? Is the theory of evolution just a theory? First of all, evolution is very real and there's a ton of proof. Second: It's a fact and a theory, but "theory" doesn't mean that scientists doubt its existence. "Theory" in this sense means "well-substantiated explanation" instead of "opinion" or "guess." 

Studying Darwin and evolution can be a daunting task and there is a lot of misinformation about the topic. If you're unclear on the particulars of evolution, there are a ton of broad facts about evolution that can help clear things up for you. After that, dive deep! It's a fascinating area to explore. Read on for some enlightening, highly evolved (and bite-sized) evolution facts!

  • Human Faces Evolved to Take a Punch Better

    So this is pretty cool: human faces evolved to take a punch better. How useful! Scientists used to think our faces evolved to be more robust so we could be better at eating different types of foods, but new research suggests our faces got tougher so we could better withstand a beating. The research indicates violence is a bigger part of human evolution than anthropologists previously thought.
  • Humans and Dogs May Have Evolved Convergently

    The connection between man and man's best friend is a whole lot tighter than you might think. Scientists call it "parallel evolution." Dogs and humans shared environments for many centuries, thus enabling them to evolve convergently. This means we share genes that deal with diet and behavior (Cool!) but also share diseases (Gross!). This parallel evolution may not be unique between humans and dogs: other domestic animals such as goats or horses may have also evolved alongside us.
  • Pandas Used to Be Carnivores

    Everyone knows that pandas love to eat bamboo. But did you know that they used to be carnivores? Before they evolved into adorable vegetarians (with rare exceptions; one panda in China made headlines for eating some goat) they used to eat meat. In fact, their digestive tracts appear to be "designed" for meat-eating and their evolutionary ancestors were distant cousins of meat-loving hyenas and saber-toothed cats.
  • Human Penises Used to Have Spines

    Human Penises Used to Have Spines
    Photo: HotlantaVoyeur / flickr / CC-BY 2.0
    Human males, thank goodness, evolved to not have a penis covered in little spines. More than 700,000 years ago, however, our ancestors had small pieces of keratin (hard tissue) lining the outside of the penis. Scientists think a trend toward monogamy may be to thank for the change. In contrast, modern domestic cats use their spiny penises to break coagulated "copulatory plugs" placed inside female cats by other males. Yuck.