Hi Ian, thanks for your question. A famous biologist once said “Nothing in biology makes sense except in the light of evolution” and I agree with him. Understanding how evolution happens helps us to explain why life is the way it is – why does this animal look like this? Why does it behave like that? Why do some bacteria make us ill? Why do men and women look different? Why do ducks have such weirdly-shaped willies? (Go on, Google this one!) The list goes on and on.
Without evolution, biology would just be like stamp collecting – describing species and collecting them without ever being able to understand how and why they exist. And that would be really dull and not very rewarding.
On a more practical level, if we understand something of the evolution and ecology then it can help us work out how animals and plants might respond to changes in human behaviour (like land use, farming, climate change etc).
But ultimately, to me, evolutionary theory is just beautiful. It gives us a mental framework to try to understand life and how we got here. I also love the fact that randomness and chance plays such an important role in explaining evolution – the fuzzy edges are sometimes the most interesting parts of science.
If you’re interested in evolution then there are some great books out there – ‘Almost Like A Whale’ by Steve Jones is a really good read.