Genetic mutation has a significant influence in how evolution occurs. Essentially for genetic mutation to happen there has to be some kind of change in DNA. Mutation is in itself a change in the DNA and this directly impacts evolution.
Darwin’s theory of evolution is generally accepted as proof of this philosophy in nature in how life passes from generation to generation. When Darwin came up with the hypothesis of “Survival of the fittest”, he meant that those who possessed the strongest ability to adapt would be the ones that would be passing their genes to future generations.
The theory of evolution is centered on all of the different groups of species and the creatures who belong to each one. It does not matter what kind of living being, this theory includes everything from single cell organisms to the more complex fish to the multi-faceted makeup of humans.
On the genetic level, if a mutation occurs within a living being, this can make a significant change which may or may not be outwardly distinct, but over the course of time, these mutations typically cause a significant change in the life form.
At this point, there are three possible outcomes for each genetic mutation:
*This mutation can cause the life form to be more successful in its environment. For instance, it could be faster, stronger, smarter or even more social (able to work with others) to enable the species to survive day to day As a result the creature or group of creatures reproduces more than its rivals that do not have the mutation. Over the course of time they will end up replacing the original species. You could argue this process occurred when the Homo sapiens, better known as modern Humans, replaced Homo erectus.
*The second possibility which could occur is no change at all; the mutation is a normal variant to the species. A good example of this is the difference between having blonde or brown hair. The hair may have some minor cultural effect on the successes of the human species, but it is so minor there is really no difference in the amount of off-spring from the species.
*The third possibility is the mutation makes the creature less successful and the line of creatures becomes extinct because it can’t survive in the environment or it cannot reproduce. In a larger scope, most anthropologists believe that the Neanderthal (Traditional stereotyped “cave man”) is a prime example of this. The Neanderthal was able to survive the ice age in Europe but was unable to mentally and physically evolve past that point, which became the evolutionary dead end. This event allowed for the evolution of modern humans.
Essentially, without genetic mutations occurring there would be no evolution. For every living being to take an evolutionary step, it needs to be able to survive, adapt, and overcome its environment to reproduce to continue the genetic change.
This is not a replacement of Darwin’s theory of Survival of fittest it is actually complementary to the theory because species would have never developed past a single cell organism if not for genetic mutations being added to the mix.