In the 19th century Darwin exposed the world to his concept of evolution in a time when his ideas were considered a threat to the social and political order. Darwin’s breakthrough research presented that species have the ability to adapt to changes in their world through a process he called natural selection. Darwin noted that individuals within a species showed variation and those individuals with favorable variations, those suited to their current environment, were more likely to survive and reproduce. On a trip to the Galapagos Darwin noted that finches living in the Galapagos Islands changed anatomically to secure food in new environments. Darwin noted 13 variations of Galapagos finches and concluded they had adapted to their new environments in order to survive (O’Neil 2008).
Natural selection helps species adapt to change across generations but does not help living beings cope with fast environmental change when they need to modify their behavior to adapt to new and changing environments. Learning is considered a biological mechanisms and it is crucial to a species surviving. Learning indicates a change in behavior and takes place through experience to events, stimuli. Psychologists insist that learning must be measurable; the only measure of learning is when a behavior has been changed. Learning is essential for survival. Chance (2008 p 24) states “that learning takes up where reflexes, modal action patterns and general behavior leave off”. When individuals learn they also have the ability to control changes in their environment as well as being the product of environmental changes. Evolution, the change in traits of a population over a period of time, is influenced by natural selection and adaptive behaviors. If a species cannot learn and adapt within its environment then it would not survive. There is an interaction of genetics and the environment to mold behavior and ensure survival and reproduction of the species.
Dogs have proven to be one of the most adaptive animals on the planet. There are millions of them in a wide variety of shapes, sizes and colors. They are a very successful species.