Explaining the Darwinian Survival of the fittest

Explaining the Darwinian Survival of the fittest

The “survival of the fittest” concept originated from Darwin’s theory of evolution. The word “fittest” used in the phrase is purely defined as a form of reproductive success. In simpler terms or we should say Darwinian terms to be more specific, the survival of the fittest refers to the survival of the form that’ll leave the most number of copies of its very own in successive generations.

The “survival of the fittest” theory explained as a form of a biological theory

The phrase can be explained as a form of a hypothesis. Just think of “fit” in a general sense, meaning it’s the word that’s completely opposite to that of “unfit”.

So what did he probably meant by this theory?

The “fittest” term that used here is probably referred to the animals that are best suited to their environment. Naturally, these animals are the best to survive.

Social Darwinian Theory

This theory implies that the weak shall perish and the strong will succeed. The fittest will succeed and they will rule over the weakest because they are the fittest to do so.

This idea might sound a little avant-garde but it’s still applicable on the modern society.

Is this theory correct?

The theory is basically controversial purely from the point of view of biology. The theory also stands to be unethical from the point of view of sociology.

But we are concerned mainly with this theory from the biological point of view. And from that view, we can say that the “survival of the fittest” theory consists of many flaws. Why? Let’s look at an example:


Darwin’s survival theory is basically a trade-off between the quality and quantity of an organism’s offspring.

Say for example, a fish. A fish can produce millions of eggs in a mating season but only a few of them actually survive. Yet, large numbers of the same organisms are produced even though majority of them perish.

Say for example, you have a newborn fish that’s considered to be a prey to a larger and more powerful fish. Most fish species receive from little to no parental care. Yet, the newborn fish has a predator avoidance feature built in its neurological system. So you see nature has already seen to that. It gives it weaker species a chance to survive.

On the other hand, the predatory fish must have also evolved an advanced feature to catch its prey.

So you see that the weaker specie has survived and will continue to do so in future. Maybe it will develop additional features in future if required but the main point is that it WILL survive. The theory of survival of the fittest doesn’t seem applicable in this aspect.

The phrase can be misleading

The word survival is often avoided by modern day biologists because the phrase tends to be a little misleading. For e.g.:

Survival is considered to be only one aspect of selection. The word “fit” is also quite misleading because it’s often confused with a state of physical fitness. So you see the phrase is indeed quite misleading.


We’ll bring this article to an end now. Hope you had a good read.

Sudipto Das

Sudipto writes technical and educational content periodically for wizert.com and backs it up with extensive research and relevant examples. He's an avid reader and a tech enthusiast at the same time with a little bit of “Arsenal Football Club” thrown in as well. He's got a B.Tech in Electronics and Instrumentation.
Follow him on twitter @SudiptoDas1993

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