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The development of modern theories of evolution began with the introduction of the concept of natural selection in a joint 1858 paper by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace, and the publication of Darwin's 1859 book, The Origin of Species.
The "theory of descent with modification" is the major kinematic theory that deals with the pattern of evolution—that is, it treats non-causal relations between ancestral and descendant species, orders, phyla, and so forth.
The theory of descent with modification, also called the "theory of common descent," essentially postulates that all organisms have descended from common ancestors by a continuous process of branching.
In the 1930s, scientists combined Darwinian natural selection with the re-discovered theory of Mendelian heredity to create the modern synthesis, which is the prevailing paradigm of evolutionary theory.
As broadly and commonly defined in the scientific community, the term evolution connotes heritable changes in populations of organisms over time, or changes in the frequencies of alleles over time.
This theory encompasses both minor changes in gene frequency in populations, brought about by the creative force of natural selection, and major evolutionary changes brought about through natural selection, such as the origin of new designs.
For Darwin, however, the term natural selection generally was used synonymously with evolution by natural selection.
Speciation is the term that refers to creation of new and distinct biological species by branching off from the ancestral population.
Various mechanisms have been presented whereby a single evolutionary lineage splits into two or more genetically independent lineages.
In other words, narrowly defined, all life evolved from one kind of organism or from a few simple kinds, and each species arose in a single geographic location from another species that preceded it in time. In the broadest sense of the terminology, the theory of descent with modification simply states that more recent forms result from modification of earlier forms.
One of the major contributions of Charles Darwin was to marshal substantial evidence for the theory of descent with modification, particularly in his book, Origin of Species.