It is said that the only constant in this world is the change itself. Rest everything in the world keeps on changing. Thus, it becomes crucial for oneself to change according to the changing situations. Adaptation and evolution are the two phenomena that help us to change accordingly. While they seem quite similar and one may even confuse them to be synonyms, they are not so.
Adaptation vs Evolution
The main difference between adaptation and evolution is that adaptation refers to short-term changes to cope with changing situations. On the other hand, evolution refers to long-term changes in an organism to cope with the changing environment. Thus, time is a key factor in differentiating between adaptation and evolution.
Adaptation is the change in the behavior of an organism for a short-term period. Such a change is necessitated by a change in the environment or the habitat of that organism. Adaptation is a reversible change, implying that as the situations reverse to the original state, those changes in the organism will also cease to exist.
Evolution is a change in the genetic material of the organism for a long-term period. Changes of this type occur due to speciation or continued adaptation to a situation over generations. Evolution is an irreversible change and so, cannot be reversed to the original condition after a period.
Comparison Table Between Adaptation and Evolution
|Parameters of Comparison||Adaptation||Evolution|
|Meaning||It implies a change in the form or behavior of an organism to suit the altered environment.||It implies a change in the innate features of successive generations of an organism.|
|Term||It is for a short period.||It is for a long period.|
|Cause||Adaptation occurs due to change in changing situations.||Evolution occurs due to speciation.|
|Reversibility||It is a reversible change.||It is an irreversible change.|
|Level of change||Adaptational change occurs at the phenotypic level.||Evolutional change occurs at the Genotypic level.|
What is Adaptation?
Adaptation can be described as the emergence of certain new traits in an organism. It is induced by a change in the surroundings of that organism. Such changes in the organism help them to adjust to the changes in their habitat.
These adaptational changes go through a process of selection which helps to adapt the best changes. The selection of adaptational change is a natural process and helps the body to choose the best-suited changes in the changing environment. It is like a person choosing a dress best suited for an occasion.
The adaptive traits brought out by such changes can be either physical or behavioral. Behavioral changes are those which are reflected in the behavior of the person like their speaking, food habits, and mating patterns. The physical changes of adaptation can be seen in their growth and development, shape, size, and internal organization of body structures.
The camouflage of a chameleon is an example of adaptation. The color of this organism’s body changes with its surroundings. Such changes are not permanent and change back with changes in their surroundings. These changes help the chameleon to survive and be safe.
What is Evolution?
Evolution is the process of change in the genetic material of an organism through successive generations. This change in the genetic material leads to a change in the innate features of an organism distinguishing the offspring from their ancestors. The theory of evolution was put forward by Charles Darwin. The theory states that human beings have evolved from microorganisms.
Based on changes in genetic material, there can be two types of evolution. When the changes in the genes of an organism are minor, it is referred to as microevolution. On the other hand, when the changes in the genes of an organism are major, it is called macroevolution. While microevolution leads to minor gene mutation, macroevolution leads to significant character changes in the organism.
Main Differences Between Adaptation and Evolution
- Adaptation refers to the change in the form, structure, or behavior of the person to suit and adapt to the changing situations or environments. On the other hand, evolution refers to the change in the innate or heritable features of successive generations of an organism.
- On the basis of time, it can be said that adaptation is a change for short period after which original conditions reverse back. On the other hand, evolution is a long term change which leaves no chances of original conditions being back.
- Adaptation is caused due to changes in the situations or environment surrounding the person. On the contrary, evolution is due to speciation. Speciation is the process through which a new species comes into being through changes in genes of the original organism.
- While adaptation is a reversible change, evolution is not considered to be so. This is because as adaptation is for a short period, the changes brought out by it will cease after a period. However, the genetic material of an organism cannot be altered and such changes will remain for a long period.
- The level of change is also a good parameter for evaluating change. While adaptation results in the phenotypic level of change, evaluation leads to the genotypic level of change.
Adaptation and evolution both lead to changes. Both these are natural processes that occur over a period in all organisms. These natural processes are prompted by changes in the habitat and environment of the organism.
Adaptation is a reversible change in the phenotypic level of organisms prompted by changes in the environment. On the other hand, evolution is an irreversible change in the genotypic level of the organisms which occur due to speciation.