Few ideas have caused as much of a stir in the general public as the theory of the evolution of species. First proposed, somewhat timidly, at the beginning of the 19th century, the theory was supported by hard evidence from Charles Darwin in his 1859 book on the subject. Though only a coincidence, it is interesting that Darwin completed the first version of his manuscript in 1842, the same year that Miguasha was discovered. Despite being widely accepted among scientists today, the theory still encounters a surprising amount of resistance among non-specialists.(44 kb)
The theory of the evolution of species is based on studies of the living world in which it is possible to observe rapid changes, whether they be in the evolution of a populations genetic baggage, controlled crossbreedings that create new races and varieties, or the disappearance of species, which is itself an integral part of the evolutionary process of life. The bulk of the evidence for the theory, however, is found in the fossil record.
Since its discovery, the Miguasha site has played an important role in the development of evolutionary theories, particularly those concerned with vertebrates. Early on, specific species provoked changes in the various schools of thought on evolution, and of these, Eusthenopteron foordi
is by far the most famous. It is this fish that gave rise to the idea that weas vertebrates, tetrapods, humanshave distant aquatic origins within that animal group!(44 kb)
Species that occupied important places in the evolutionary history of plants are also found at Miguasha. Once abundant along the shores of this ancient waterway, Archeopteris
, the earliest known tree, helped build the planets first forests, and its presence signalled the appearance of conifers soon thereafter.