survival of the fittest
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survival of the fittestan aphorism coined by Herbert SPENCER, and quoted by DARWIN in On the Origin of Species (1859). The theory argued:
- that reproduction in any species involved a certain degree of natural variation in the characteristics of offspring;
- that any variation which enhanced the survival capacity of certain members of a species over other members lacking that variation would be positively selected for in terms of reproduction chances; and
- that over millennia this process could account for: (i) the development of complex organisms from simple ones; and (ii) an enormous diversification of species from a small number of original organisms.