Difference Between Adaptation and Natural Selection

The living organisms that live in the surroundings show different characteristics in their behaviour. Right from their food habits, survival instincts, life span, physical features, behaviours etc., they show variations. Each living organism possesses different characteristic features.

Many scientists have made discoveries by making profound observations of these behaviours of different living organisms, and further, they have also postulated theories regarding those characters. Two of those concepts are 1. Adaptation and 2. Natural Selection. 

Adaptation vs Natural Selection

The main difference between adaptation and natural selection is that adaptation means the ability of a living organism to adapt and adjust itself to the respective surrounding and environment. On the other hand, natural selection means the living organisms that are fitter and are beneficial are more likely to increase the population of their species by surviving and increasing more in number. 

Adaptation and Natural Selection

Adaptation is one of the traits possessed by living organisms. It simply means the ability to adapt and adjust itself to the surrounding environment. The earliest explanation of adaptation dates back to the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries that was done by Aristotle and Empedocles, who were both Greek philosophers.

Various living organisms have unique phenotypes. Each living organism has a different phenotype, and depending on the phenotype, the survival chances of the respective living organism is determined. This theory is known as natural selection in living organisms. Charles Darwin explained the theory of natural selection. He put forth that it is not an intentional concept.

Comparison Table Between Adaptation and Natural Selection

Parameters of ComparisonAdaptationNatural Selection
MeaningAdaptation is the ability possessed by various living organisms to adapt and/ or adjust to different surrounding environments and survive. Natural selection is the theory that is based on the differences between the survival of various living organisms due to the presence of different phenotype.
Tossed byThe term “adaptation” in living organisms was tossed by John Bowlby. The term “natural selection” in living organisms was tossed and explained by Charles Darwin.
First Explained In In the 1800s. The theory of natural selection was explained in the year 1859 for the first time.
Overall Increase In There is an overall increase in the chances of survival of the living organism. There is an overall increase in the frequency of the population in the living organisms that have the beneficial traits.
ExamplesThe presence of fur on animals like bear. The presence of tall necks in giraffes is a beneficial trait as it helps them to feed on the low-lying shrub. The giraffes with long necks will survive as they will feed more and hence the trait will be passed on to future generations.

What is Adaptation?

Adaptation is an attribute present in both human beings as well as animals. It simply means the ability to live organisms to adapt and adjust to a certain surrounding environment and further survive in that environment. It is the trait that also increases the chances of survival of the living organism that has better adaptation to a certain environment.

Many living organisms survive through different seasonal changes and many other bigger changes by adapting to them. Adaptation helps the living organisms to fit in their respective environment and evolve. Many scientists and philosophers put forth that it is more of a process than a physical change.

Initially, the concept was explained by Aristotle and Empedocles, who both were Greek philosophers in ancient times. They explained that adaptation is more of a process, and it can never have a final form. It is a continuous loop that is experienced by living organisms during different seasonal, environmental changes. 

Different types of adaptations include structural adaptation, behavioural adaptation, physiological adaptation, co-adaptation, mimicry etc. The presence of fur coats on animals like a bear is a prominent example of structural adaptation. In behavioural adaptation, a living organism survives as well as reproduces. Physiological adaptation includes the various responses of a living organism towards the stimuli from the surrounding environment. If two or more species carry out the process of adaptation together, then it is known as co-adaptation.

What is Natural Selection?

All the individuals present in the environment vary from one another. They have different genetic patterns, phenotypes, structures of organs, behavioural health etc. However, the more prominent and beneficial trait possessed by a living organism is more likely to help the living organism in adaptation and thereby in survival. This further leads to the passing on of the beneficial trait to the offspring, and this leads to the increase in the population of the species with the beneficial trait. This entire theory is known as natural selection.

Many biologists, philosophers and naturalists have found out and concluded that natural selection is the key factor of evolution in living organisms. The process of natural selection helps living organisms to adapt as well as change. This brings variety to living organisms. Hence, variety brings diversity in nature between various living organisms.

The theory of natural selection was proposed by Charles Darwin, who was an English naturalist. He put forth the explanation after doing a profound study on plants, animals and various fossils during his five-year voyage in the continent of South America and some islands present in the Pacific. The theory was highlighted in his book in the year 1859.

The theory of natural selection helps various living organisms to find out the traits that are best suited to the environment and various changes that are occurred in it. Other than that, it also helps a living organism to adapt, change, evolve and thereby survive more efficiently in the surrounding environment.

Main Differences Between Adaptation and Natural Selection

  1. Adaptation simply means the ability to adapt and adjust. On the other hand, natural selection means the difference in survival seen in different living organisms due to the presence of different traits.
  2. The term “adaptation” was first tossed by John Bowlby. On the other hand, the term “natural selection” was first tossed by Charles Darwin.
  3. The theory of adaptation was first explained in the 1800s. On the other hand, the theory of natural selection was first explained in the year 1859 in the book written by Charles Darwin.
  4. There is seen an overall change and increase in the chances of survival of a living organism. On the other hand, there is seen an overall change and increase in the frequency of the population of the living organisms that have the beneficial traits.
  5. An example of adaptation includes the presence of a bill on a bird. On the other hand, the example of natural selection includes the survival of giraffes with long necks.

Conclusion

Both concepts, natural selection and adaptation, are slightly correlated. These processes help living organisms to change, grow, adapt and survive. Living organisms fit in various environments, and thereby their chances of survival increase. If they do not adapt, then they are more likely to die. However, the living organisms that adapt and have beneficial traits are more likely to survive.

References

  1. https://www.taylorfrancis.com/books/mono/10.4324/9780203095010/theory-adaptation-linda-hutcheon
  2. https://link.springer.com/chapter/10.1007/978-1-349-20215-7_22
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