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20th of August

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Aug 20

In 1858 Charles Darwin first published his theory of Evolution By Natural Selection (along with Alfred Wallace’s same theory deduced independently) in the “Journal of the Linnean Society of London.

 

Charles Darwin is often referred to as the father of modern biology. Although known for his work ‘On the Origin of Species’, Darwin produced nineteen additional publications, wrote hundreds of scientific papers and fourteen thousand letters, all of which laid the foundations for Biology as a subject we recognise today.

 

Charles Darwin was born in Shropshire, England on the 12th of February 1809. Although he did not invent the theory of evolution, he certainly made the idea more accessible to the world. His theory (now proven fact) was evolution by natural selection; where by an organism with a mutation may be better adapted to certain environmental changes and therefore improve their chances of survival.  This means the organism with the useful mutation is more likely to survive and reproduce, hopefully passing on the useful mutation. Overtime species are able to adapt to the world around them and this process gave the Galapagos Islands (and the world) the rich diversity of its inhabitants perfectly suited to their enviroments. He is considered revolutionary because the idea of evolution was a very difficult one to sell at the time, as it went against not only the church but also the scientific views of the time. It is said that Darwin himself still believed in the biblical creationist explanation even after he left the Galapagos Islands.

 

The infamous Beagle voyage from which ‘Origins’ was inspired, began in 1832 and traversed thirty-thousand miles of Ocean in five years, five weeks of which were spent in the Galapagos. Darwin was not originally a naturalist although he had a keen interest in the natural world and was not employed for his academic talents: he had paid for his trip aboard the Beagle as gentleman companion to the ships Captain.

 

Returning to London in 1836, Darwin purchased Down House in South London and never left Britain again. Darwin wrote and published many scientific papers before The Origin of Species which was published two decades later. It actually took Darwin a long time to come to terms with what he had discovered on his voyage. He was close to finishing his book, “On the Origin of Species” when fellow naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace contacted him. Wallace had also come up with the same theory and being a man of integrity he informed Darwin that he would soon be publishing his findings. This pushed Darwin into publishing his own version and on the 20th of August 1858 both scientist published their theory in the “Journal of the Linnean Society of London”. Darwin’s most famous book “On the Origin of Species” was published on the 24th of November 1859 (from 1872 the sixth and following editions were shortened to “The Origin of species”).

 

The phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ which is often synonymous with Darwin was invented by philosopher Herbert Spencer not Darwin. Moreover The Origin of Species is not Darwin’s theory of evolution but a theory of evolution by natural selection.