Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin science Charles Darwin Darwin was born in February, 1809. He left the school at Shrewsbury to the University of Edinburgh to study medicine. In 1827 he dropped out of medical school and entered the University of Cambridge, intending to become a clergyman. There he met Adam Sedgwick, a geologist and John Stevens Henslow, a naturalist. Henslow not only helped build Darwin’s self-confidence but also taught his student to be an observer of natural phenomena and collector of specimens.

After graduating from Cambridge in 1831, the 22-year-old Darwin was taken aboard the English survey ship HMS Beagle, largely on Henslow’s recommendation, as an unpaid naturalist on a scientific expedition around the world. Darwin’s job as naturalist aboard the Beagle gave him the opportunity to observe the various geological formations found on different continents and islands along the way, as well as a huge variety of fossils and living organisms. In his geological observations, Darwin was most impressed with the effect that natural forces had on shaping the earth’s surface. During the voyage Darwin found himself doubting that all creatures had been created individually when he found fossils closely ressembling each other. In the Galapagos Islands, off the coast of Ecuador, he also observed that each island supported its own form of certain animals; the various forms were closely related but differed in structure and eating habits from island to island. Both of his observations raised questions about the links between different species.

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After returning to England in 1836, Darwin began recording his ideas about changeability of species in his Notebooks on the Transmutation of Species. He wrote a theory about his findings but did not publish it. Darwin’s theory was first announced in 1858 in a paper presented at the same time as one by Alfred Russel Wallace, a young naturalist who had come independently to the theory of natural selection. Darwin’s complete theory was published in 1859, in On the Origin of Species. The Origin sold out on the first day of publication and after this went through six editions. His ideas were widely critized by scientists and the Church. Darwin spent the rest of his life based around his theory and arguments against it.

He was honored by burial in Westminster Abbey after he died in Down, Kent, on April 19, 1882.