Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin's theory of evolution
Charles Robert Darwin's theory of evolution was that all life has descended from
ancestors. This means that more complex creatures had developed from simpler
ancestor's overtime.
Charles Darwin.
Charles Darwin was a British scientist who laid the foundations of the theory of
evolution and transformed the way we think about the natural world. Charles
Robert Darwin was born on 12 February 1809. Darwin himself initially planned to
follow a medical career, and studied at Edinburgh University but later switched to
divinity at Cambridge. In 1831, he joined a five year scientific expedition on the
survey ship HMS Beagle.
At this time, most Europeans believed that the world was created by God in
seven days as described in the bible. On the voyage, Darwin read Lyell's
'Principles of Geology' which suggested that the fossils found in rocks were
actually evidence of animals that had lived many thousands or millions of years
ago. Lyell's argument was reinforced in Darwin's own mind by the rich variety of
animal life and the geological features he saw during his voyage. The
breakthrough in his ideas came in the Galapagos Islands, 500 miles west of
South America. Darwin noticed that each island supported its own form of finch
which were closely related but differed in important ways.
On his return to England in 1836, Darwin tried to solve the riddles of these
observations and the puzzle of how species evolve. Influenced by the ideas of
Malthus, he proposed a theory of evolution occurring by the process of natural
selection. The animals (or plants) best suited to their environment are more likely
to survive and reproduce, passing on the characteristics which helped them
survive to their offspring. Gradually, the species changes over time. Darwin
worked on his theory for 20 years. After learning that another naturalist, Alfred
Russell Wallace, had developed similar ideas, the two made a joint
announcement of their discovery in 1858. In 1859 Darwin published 'On the
Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection'. The book was extremely
controversial, because the logical extension of Darwin's theory was that Homo
sapiens were simply another form of animal. It made it seem possible that even
people might just have evolved quite possibly from apes and destroyed the
prevailing orthodoxy on how the world was created. Darwin was vehemently
attacked, particularly by the Church. However, his ideas soon gained currency
and have become the new orthodoxy.
Darwin died on 19 April 1882 and was buried in Westminster Abbey.


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