Evolution is change in the heritable characteristics of biological populations over successive generations. These characteristics are the expressions of genes that are passed on from parent to offspring during reproduction. Different characteristics tend to exist within any given population as a result of mutation, genetic recombination and other sources of genetic variation. Evolution occurs when evolutionary processes such as natural selection and genetic drift act on this variation, resulting in certain characteristics becoming more common or rare within a population, it is this process of evolution that has given rise to biodiversity at every level of biological organisation, including the levels of species, individual organisms and molecules. The scientific theory of evolution by natural selection was conceived independently by Charles Darwin and Alfred Russel Wallace in the mid-19th century and was set out in detail in Darwin's book On the Origin of Species. Evolution by natural selection was first demonstrated by the observation that more offspring are produced than can survive.

This is followed by three observable facts about living organisms: traits vary among individuals with respect to their morphology and behaviour, different traits confer different rates of survival and reproduction and traits can be passed from generation to generation. Thus, in successive generations members of a population are more to be replaced by the progenies of parents with favourable characteristics that have enabled them to survive and reproduce in their respective environments. In the early 20th century, other competing ideas of evolution such as mutationism and orthogenesis were refuted as the modern synthesis reconciled Darwinian evolution with classical genetics, which established adaptive evolution as being caused by natural selection acting on Mendelian genetic variation. All life on Earth shares a last universal common ancestor that lived 3.5–3.8 billion years ago. The fossil record includes a progression from early biogenic graphite, to microbial mat fossils, to fossilised multicellular organisms.

Existing patterns of biodiversity have been shaped by repeated formations of new species, changes within species and loss of species throughout the evolutionary history of life on Earth. Morphological and biochemical traits are more similar among species that share a more recent common ancestor, can be used to reconstruct phylogenetic trees. Evolutionary biologists have continued to study various aspects of evolution by forming and testing hypotheses as well as constructing theories based on evidence from the field or laboratory and on data generated by the methods of mathematical and theoretical biology, their discoveries have influenced not just the development of biology but numerous other scientific and industrial fields, including agriculture and computer science. The proposal that one type of organism could descend from another type goes back to some of the first pre-Socratic Greek philosophers, such as Anaximander and Empedocles; such proposals survived into Roman times. The poet and philosopher Lucretius followed Empedocles in his masterwork De rerum natura.

In contrast to these materialistic views, Aristotelianism considered all natural things as actualisations of fixed natural possibilities, known as forms. This was part of a medieval teleological understanding of nature in which all things have an intended role to play in a divine cosmic order. Variations of this idea became the standard understanding of the Middle Ages and were integrated into Christian learning, but Aristotle did not demand that real types of organisms always correspond one-for-one with exact metaphysical forms and gave examples of how new types of living things could come to be. In the 17th century, the new method of modern science rejected the Aristotelian approach, it sought explanations of natural phenomena in terms of physical laws that were the same for all visible things and that did not require the existence of any fixed natural categories or divine cosmic order. However, this new approach was slow to take root in the biological sciences, the last bastion of the concept of fixed natural types.

John Ray applied one of the more general terms for fixed natural types, "species", to plant and animal types, but he identified each type of living thing as a species and proposed that each species could be defined by the features that perpetuated themselves generation after generation. The biological classification introduced by Carl Linnaeus in 1735 explicitly recognised the hierarchical nature of species relationships, but still viewed species as fixed according to a divine plan. Other naturalists of this time speculated on the evolutionary change of species over time according to natural laws. In 1751, Pierre Louis Maupertuis wrote of natural modifications occurring during reproduction and accumulating over many generations to produce new species. Georges-Louis Leclerc, Comte de Buffon suggested that species could degenerate into different organisms, Erasmus Darwin proposed that all warm-blooded animals could have descended from a single microorganism; the first full-fledged evolutionary scheme was Jean-Baptiste Lamarck's "transmutation" theory of 1809, which envisaged spontaneous generation continually producing simple forms of life that developed greater complexity in parallel lineages with an inherent progressive tendency, postulated that on a local level, these lineages adapted to the environment by inheriting changes caused by their use or disuse in parents.


Benjamin W. Arnett

Benjamin W. Arnett was an African-American educator, minister and member of the Ohio House of Representatives, he was born a free man March 6, 1838 in Brownsville, where he taught school from 1859 to 1867. In his youth, Arnett lost a leg to an infection suffered after an ankle injury while working on a steam boat between 1857-58. Arnett married May 25, 1858 to Mary Louise Gordon from Geneva and Uniontown, Pennsylvania, they had seven children: Alonzo T, Benjamin W, Henry T, Annie L, Alphonso Taft, Flossy Gordon, Daniel Payne. As a pastor in the African Methodist Episcopal Church, Arnett served parishes in Toledo and Columbus, it has been designated as a historical landmark. In 1888, he was elected bishop, a position he held until his death in 1906, he was active in religious education as well, was a delegate to the International Convention of Sabbath Schools in Washington, DC in 1872 and to the International Sunday School Convention in Toronto in 1880. He had an honorary Doctor of Divinity from Wilberforce University awarded in June 1883.

In the 1860s, Arnett was active in the civil rights movement. He was a member of the Pennsylvania State Equal Rights League and in 1864 was a member of the national convention of colored men in Syracuse, New York, he was secretary of the National Convention of Colored Men in Washington, D. C. in 1867 and chaplain of the convention in Louisville, Kentucky, in 1883. In 1872 Arnett became the first black man to serve as foreman of an otherwise all-white jury. In 1885, he was elected to the Ohio General Assembly from a district with an 85 percent white majority, thus becoming the first African-American to represent a predominantly white constituency; that same year another African-American, Jeremiah A. Brown, was elected from Cleveland, the two worked together. In 1886, as Republican representative from Greene County in the Ohio General Assembly, Arnett introduced legislation to repeal the state's "Black Laws,” which limited the freedom and rights of African-American residents. Arnett was concerned that state law did not ensure that black children had the same educational opportunities as white children.

In 1887, statues regarding education were changed. A forceful and compelling speaker, Arnett was influential in Republican politics, thanks, in part, to his friendship with fellow legislator, William McKinley. Arnett died in 1906. Bishop Arnett's influence is felt in the Pentecostal community, his great-grandson, Right Reverend Benjamin Terwood Douglass of Cleveland, Ohio, is the Seventh Bishop elevated in the Pentecostal Churches of Christ. Bishop Douglass serves as Secretary-General of that Reformation. Media related to Benjamin W. Arnett at Wikimedia Commons

Orient Lines

Orient Lines was a cruise line specialising in exotic destinations, in operation 1993–2008. The brand was founded in 1993 by Gerry Herrod, was sold to Norwegian Cruise Line in 1998, it ceased operations in March 2008 and was sold to new owners in June 2008. Operations were planned to be restarted in April 2009; the history of Orient Lines began in 1991 when Shipping & General Ltd, owned by Gerry Herrod, acquired the cruise ship Alexandr Pushkin from Far Eastern Shipping Company. During the next two and a half years the Alexandr Pushkin was entirely rebuilt and emerged in 1993 as the Marco Polo for the new Orient Lines brand, embarking on a varied program with cruises all around the world. In 1998, Norwegian Cruise Line acquired the brand. In 1999, NCL itself was acquired by Star Cruises. Following this, NCL's Norwegian Crown joined the Orient Lines fleet in May 2000 under the name Crown Odyssey. In March 2001 Star Cruises announced that their SuperStar Aries would be joining the Orient Lines fleet in mid-2002 as the Ocean Voyager.

This plan was shelved however, in 2003, the Crown Odyssey returned to the NCL fleet and Orient Lines reverted to operating with just one ship. On 4 June 2007, the Marco Polo was sold to the Greece-based Global Maritime, with a delivery date on 31 March 2008. Without its only ship sold and no other ships to replace it, the Orient Line brand ceased to operate. On 27 June 2008, Star Cruises sold the Orient Line brand to Origin Cruise Group, owned by Wayne Heller; the new owners stated they would be restarting operations with several second-hand ships with a capacity of 600 to 800 passengers. The first ship acquired by the "new" Orient Lines was SS Maxim Gorkiy, purchased from Sovcomflot on 20 August 2008; the Maxim Gorkiy was due to enter service with Orient Lines in April 2009 as SS Marco Polo II. On 19 November 2008 Wayne Heller stated that due to the Great Recession of 2008, the relaunch of the Orient Lines brand was delayed indefinitely; the Maxim Gorkiy never was refitted and renamed Marco Polo II.

The ship was sold for scrap in January 2009. Archived official website