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Charles Darwin Charles Robert Darwin was a British scientist who laid the foundation of modern evolutionary theory

with his views on life development through natural selection. He was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, on February 12, 1809. After graduating from the elite school at Shrewsbury in 1825, Darwin attended the University of Edinburgh where he studied medicine. In 1827 he dropped out and entered the University of Cambridge in preparation for becoming a clergyman of the Church of England. While there, Darwin met two important people in his life: Adam Sedgwick, a geologist, and John Stevens Henslow, a naturalist. After graduating from Cambridge in 1831, the 22-year-old Darwin was taken aboard the English survey ship HMS Beagle, mainly because of Henslow's recommendation, as an unpaid naturalist on an expedition around the world. When the voyage began, Darwin didn't believe that species change through time, but he did believe in two prevailing ideas of the time. The first theory was that the earth was 6,000 years old and had remained unchanged except for the effects of floods and other catastropes. The second was that organisms were designed especially for certain habitats and appeared on the earth in their present form. After reading the works of a noted geologist, Darwin began to change his ideas. He saw evidence that the earth was much older than 6,000 years. In South America, he was witness to an earthquake that lifted the land several feet. He realized that mountains could be built by the action of an earthquake over millions of years. He found fossils of marine mammals high up on mountains, and realized that rocks must have been lifted from the ocean. Darwin also studied plants and animals. On the Galapagos Islands, he found animals that resembled animals on the South American continent, but not exactly the same. He understood that they must have come to the islands from the mainland, and then adapted into new species. He also observed the plant and animal life of South America, oceanic islands, and the Far East. He noted many

examples that proved that animals in similar environments didn't always look the same. For example, the emus of Australia and the rheas of South America are two very distinct species, but they live in the same basic kind of habitat. Darwin thought about this, and asked himself the question, if animals were formed for a specific habitat, why would different species be found in habitats that are so similar? After leaving the HMS Beagle and returning to England in 1836, Darwin began recording his ideas about changeability of species in his Notebooks on the Transmutation of Species. Darwin's explanation for how organisms evolved was brought into sharp focus after he read An Essay on the Principle of Population by the British economist Thomas Robert Malthus, who explained how human populations remain in balance. Malthus argued that any increase in the availability of food for human survival couldn't match the rate of population growth. Therefore, the population had to be checked by natural limitations such as famine and disease, or by actions such as war. After studying Malthus's essay, Darwin immediately applied his principles to plant and animal life, and by 1838 he had arrived at his first idea of the theory of evolution through natural selection. For the next twenty years, he worked on his theory and other natural history projects. In 1839, he married his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood, and soon after moved to a small estate, Down House, outside of London. There he and his wife had ten children, three of which died during infancy. Darwin's theory was first announced in 1858 in a paper presented at the same time as one by a young naturalist named Alfred Russel Wallace. Friends arranged for the two men to present a paper together before the Linnaean Society of London. On November 24, 1859, an abstract of Darwin's theory was published under the long title of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Darwin's complete theory was published later in 1859, in On the Origin of Species. Commonly referred to as "The book that shook the world," the Origin sold out on the first day of publication and subsequently went through six editions. In this book, Darwin presented his idea that species evolve from a more

primitive species through the process known as natural selection, which works spontaneously in nature. Darwin pointed out in his account of how natural selection occurs, known as Darwinism, that not all individuals undergo changes and that some changes make the particular animal better suited to particular environmental conditions. He pointed out that most species produce more eggs and offspring than ever reach maturity. He theorized that well-adapted animals of a species have a better chance of reaching maturity and producing offspring tha