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Charles Darwin

• Born: 12 February, 1809

• Place of Birth: Mount House, Shrewsbury, Shropshire,
• Died: 19 April 1882 (aged 73)
• Place of Death: Down House, Downe, Kent, England
• Residence: England
• Citizenship: British
• Nationality: British
• Fields: Naturalist
• Institutions: Geological Society of London, University of
• Academic advisors: John Stevens Henslow, Adam
• Known for: The Voyage of the Beagle, On The Origin of
Species, Natural selection
• Influences: Alexander von Humboldt, John Herschel,
Charles Lyle
• Influenced: Joseph Dalton Hooker, Thomas Henry
Huxley, George John Romanes, Ernest Haeckel, Ernest
Mayr, Julian Huxley

• Notable awards:

• Royal Medal (1853)

• Wollaston Medal (1859)
• Copley Medal (1864)
Charles Darwin
• 1809: Charles Robert Darwin is born on 12 February at The
Mount in Shrewsbury, Shropshire.
• 1817: Darwin’s mother Susannah (née Wedgwood) dies when
he is eight years old.
• 1825–1827: Darwin’s father removes him from Shrewsbury
Grammar School due to his poor progress and sends him to
Edinburgh University. He later chastised his son, saying ‘You
care for nothing but shooting, dogs and rat-catching and you
will be a disgrace to yourself and all your family’.
• 1827–1831: Darwin enrolls at Christ’s College, Cambridge
University to study theology in preparation for life as a country
parson. He is introduced to beetle collecting and becomes
known as ‘the man who walks with Henslow through spending a
lot of time with the professor of botany.
• 1831–1836: Darwin makes major natural history collections as
he travels around South America as the ship’s naturalist aboard
the HMS Beagle.
• 1835–1836: Darwin first considers the evolution of species
while thinking about the variations among Galapagos
mockingbirds, writing in his notebook ‘If there is the slightest
foundation for these remarks the zoology of Archipelagoes will
be well worth examining, for such facts (would) undermine the
stability of Species’.
• 1837: Darwin draws a simple evolutionary tree in one of his
notebooks below the words ‘I think’.
• 1838–1839: Darwin starts to develop his theory of natural
• 1839: Darwin marries his cousin, Emma Wedgwood. They
move to London and have two children. Darwin starts a natural
history of babies, making detailed observations recording the
development of expressions of emotion from birth. Eventually
they have 10 children, although only seven survive to
adulthood. He publishes The Journal of a Naturalist.
• 1840: Publishes Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle.
• 1842: Darwin wrote his first essay outlining his evolutionary
theory. Darwin moves to Down House in Bromley, Kent, where
he lives for the rest of his life. He publishes The Structure and
Distribution of Coral Reef.
• 1844: Darwin secretly writes a landmark essay on evolution by
natural selection and instructs his wife have it published in the
event of his death, writing in a note to her ‘I have just finished
my sketch of my species theory. If, as I believe […] my theory is
true, and if it be accepted even by one competent judge, it will
be a considerable step in science’. Darwin writes to botanist
Joseph Hooker telling him of his evolutionary ideas, saying it is
‘like confessing a murder’.
• 1851: Darwin’s first daughter, Annie Elizabeth, dies at the age
of ten, probably from tuberculosis. He recorded the last days of
her illness and wrote a memorial to her, which was kept with
other mementos of her life, in her writing box.
• 1854–59: Continues to develop the theory of evolution through
reading, consulting other naturalists, observation and
experimentation in his garden and the countryside around
Down House.
• 1855: Carries out the first focused survey of biodiversity in a
field at Down House and establishes the principle of
• 1856: Starts work on the first long version of On the Origin of
• 1858: Darwin receives a letter from Alfred Russel Wallace in
Indonesia, a young naturalist who has independently arrived at
a theory of natural selection that is nearly identical to Darwin’s.
• 1858: Both Darwin’s and Wallace’s theories are presented to
the Linnaean Society on 1 July. They are officially published by
the society in August. Darwin was unable to present his paper –
the funeral for his youngest son took place on the same day as
the meeting.
• 1859: Charles Darwin publishes On the Origin of Species on 24
November, putting forward his theory of evolution by natural
• 1860: Based on his belief in special creation, Bishop Samuel
Wilberforce leads an attack on Darwin’s theory at a meeting of
the British Association for the Advancement of Science (today
known as the BA), held at Oxford University Museum. Two of
England’s most influential scientists, Thomas Huxley and
Joseph Hooker, fiercely support Darwin’s work. Both sides
claim victory.
• 1862: Publishes Fertilisation of Orchids, based on his
observations of wild orchids growing in the countryside around
Down House.
• 1868: Publishes Variation of Animals and Plants Under
Domestication, which provides detailed evidence for many of
the statements made in On the Origin of Species.
• 1871: Darwin’s The Descent of Man is published, explicitly
applying his theories of evolution to humans.
• 1872: Publishes The Expression of Emotions in Man and
• 1876: Publishes The effects of cross and self fertilisation in the
vegetable kingdom based on his work around Down House.
• 1881: Publishes The Action of Worms, noting their gradual but
significant effects on soil movement.
• 1882: Charles Darwin dies. His friend, neighbour and scientist
John Lubbock MP secures his burial in Westminster Abbey.
Darwin’s funeral is attended by England’s leading politicians,
scientists, and clergy.

Charles Darwin’s Life

Charles Robert Darwin is credited with popularizing the concept of

organic evolution by means of natural selection. Though Darwin was
not the first naturalist to propose a model of biological evolution, his
introduction of the mechanism of the "survival of the fittest," and
discussion of the evolution of humans, marked a revolution in both
science and natural philosophy.

Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England and showed an early

interest in the natural sciences, especially geology. His father, Robert
Darwin, a wealthy physician, encouraged Charles to pursue studies in
medicine at the University of Edinburg. Darwin soon tired of the
subject, and his father sent him to Cambridge to prepare for a career
in the clergy. At Cambridge, Darwin rekindled his passion for the
natural sciences, often devoting more time to socializing with
Cambridge scientists than to his clerical studies. With guidance from
his cousin, entomologist William Darwin Fox (1805-1880), Darwin
became increasingly involved in the growing circle of natural
scientists at Cambridge. ox introduced Darwin to clergyman and
biologist John Stevens Henslow (1796-1861). Henslow became
Darwin's tutor in mathematics and theology, as well as his mentor in
his personal studies of botany, geology, and zoology. Henslow
profoundly influenced Darwin, and it was he who encouraged Darwin
to delay seeking an appointment in the Church of England in favor of
joining an expedition team and venturing overseas. After graduation,
Darwin agreed to an unpaid position as naturalist aboard the H.M.S.
Beagle. The expedition team was initially chartered for a three year
voyage and survey of South America's Pacific coastline, but the ship
pursued other ventures after their work was complete and Darwin
remained part of H.M.S. Beagle's crew for five years.

Darwin used his years aboard the Beagle to further his study of
the natural sciences. In South America, Darwin became fascinated
with geology. He paid close attention to changes in the land brought
about by earthquakes and volcanoes. His observations led him to
reject catastrophism (a theory that land forms are the result of single,
catastrophic events), and instead espoused the geological theories of
gradual development proposed by English geologist Charles Lyell
(1797-1875) in his 1830 work, Principles of Geology. Yet, some of his
observations in South America did not fit with Lyell's theories. Darwin
disagreed with Lyell's assertion that coral reefs grew atop oceanic
volcanoes and rises, and concluded that coral reefs built upon
themselves. When Darwin returned to England in 1836, he and Lyell
became good friends. Lyell welcomed Darwin's new research on
coral reefs, and encouraged him to publish other studies from his

Darwin was elected a fellow of the Geological Society in 1836,

and became a member of the Royal Society in 1839. That same year,
he published his Journal of Researches into the Geology and Natural
History of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S. Beagle. Though
his achievements in geology largely prompted his welcoming into
Britain's scientific community, his research interests began to diverge
from the discipline in the early 1840s. Discussions with other
naturalists prompted Darwin's increasing interest in population
diversity of fauna, extinct animals, and the presumed fixity of species.
Again, he turned to notes of his observations and various specimens
he gathered while on his prior expedition. The focus of his new
studies was the Galápagos Islands off the Pacific coast of Ecuador.
While there, Darwin was struck by the uniqueness of the island's
tortoises and birds. Some neighboring islands had animal
populations, which were largely similar to that of the continent, while
others had seemingly different variety of species. After analyzing
finch specimen from the Galápagos, Darwin concluded that species
must have some means of transmutation, or ability of a species to
alter over time. Darwin thus proposed that as species modified, and
as old species disappeared, new varieties could be introduced. Thus,
Darwin proposed an evolutionary model of animal populations.

The idea of organic evolution was not novel. French naturalist,

Georges Buffon (1707-1788) had theorized that species were prone
to development and change. Darwin's own grandfather, Erasmus
Darwin, also published research regarding the evolution of species.
Although the theoretical concept of evolution was not new, it
remained undeveloped prior to Charles Darwin. Just as he had done
with Lyell's geological theory, Darwin set about the further the
understanding of evolution not merely as a philosophical concept, but
as a practical scientific model for explaining the diversity of species
and populations. His major contribution to the field was the
introduction of a mechanism by which evolution was accomplished.
Darwin believed that evolution was the product of an ongoing struggle
of species to better adapt to their environment, with those that were
best adapted surviving to reproduce and replace less-suited
individuals. He called this phenomenon "survival of the fittest," or
natural selection. In this way, Darwin believed that traits of maximum
adaptiveness were transferred to future generations of the animal
population, eventually resulting in new species.

Darwin finished an extensive draft of his theories in 1844, but

lacked confidence in his abilities to convince others of the merits of
his discoveries. Years later, prompted by rumors that a colleague was
about to publish a theory similar to his own, Darwin decided to
release his research. On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural
Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for
Life, was published November 1859, and became an instant

A common misconception is that On the Origin of Species was

the introduction of the concept of human evolution. In fact, a
discussion of human antiquity is relatively absent from the book.
Darwin did not directly address the relationship between animal and
human evolution until he published The Descent of Man, and
Selection in Relation to Sex in 1871. Darwin introduced not only a
model for the biological evolution of man, but also attempted to chart
the process of man's psychological evolution. He further tried to
break down the barriers between man and animals in 1872 with his
work The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. By
observing facial features and voice sounds, Darwin asserted that man
and non-human animals exhibited signs of emotion in similar ways. In
the last years of his career, Darwin took the concept of organic
evolution to its logical end by applying natural selection and
specialization to the plant kingdom.

Darwin's works on evolution met with both debate from the

scientific societies, and criticism from some members of the clergy.
On the Origin of Species and The Descent of Man were both
published at a time of heightened religious evangelicalism in England.
Though willing to discuss his theories with colleagues in the sciences,
Darwin refrained from participating in public debates concerning his
research. In the last decade of his life, Darwin was disturbed about
the application of his evolutionary models to social theory. By most
accounts, he considered the emerging concept of the social and
cultural evolution of men and civilizations, which later became known
as Social Darwinism, to be a grievous misinterpretation of his works.
Regardless of his opposition, he remained publicly taciturn about the
impact his scientific theories on theology, scientific methodology, and
social theory. Closely guarding his privacy, Darwin retired to his
estate in Down. He died at Down House in 1882. Though his wishes
were to receive an informal burial, Parliament immediately ordered a
state burial for the famous naturalist at Westminster Abby. By the
time of his death, the scientific community had largely accepted the
arguments favoring his theories of evolution. Although the later
discoveries in genetics and molecular biology radically reinterpreted
Darwin's evolutionary mechanisms, evolutionary theory is the key and
unifying theory in all biological science.
Charles Robert Darwin was an English naturalist, eminent as a
collector and geologist, who proposed and provided scientific
evidence that all species of life have evolved over time from common
ancestors through the process he called natural selection. The fact
that evolution occurs became accepted by the scientific community
and the general public in his lifetime, while his theory of natural
selection came to be widely seen as the primary explanation of the
process of evolution in the 1930s, and now forms the basis of modern
evolutionary theory. In modified form, Darwin’s scientific discovery
remains the foundation of biology, as it provides a unifying logical
explanation for the diversity of life.

Darwin developed his interest in natural history while studying

first medicine at Edinburgh University, then theology at Cambridge.
His five-year voyage on the Beagle established him as a geologist
whose observations and theories supported Charles Lyell’s
uniformitarian ideas, and publication of his journal of the voyage
made him famous as a popular author. Puzzled by the geographical
distribution of wildlife and fossils he collected on the voyage, Darwin
investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of
natural selection in 1838. Although he discussed his ideas with
several naturalists, he needed time for extensive research and his
geological work had priority. He was writing up his theory in 1858
when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay which described the
same idea, prompting immediate joint publication of both of their

His 1859 book On the Origin of Species established evolution

by common descent as the dominant scientific explanation of
diversification in nature. He examined human evolution and sexual
selection in The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex,
followed by The Expression of the Emotions in Man and Animals. His
research on plants was published in a series of books, and in his final
book, he examined earthworms and their effect on soil.

In recognition of Darwin’s pre-eminence, he was one of only five 19th

century UK non-royal personages to be honoured by a state funeral,
and was buried in Westminster Abbey, close to John Herschel and
Isaac Newton.

1. Darwin ‘changed the world from being seen as static to evolving’

(changing). That is, microbes, over billions of years, changed into
trees, animals and men. Living things do not reproduce true to their
type after all, but change into different things, the evolutionist
2. Darwin ‘established the implausibility of creationism’. God did not
create things; they arose through natural processes.
3. Darwin ‘refuted cosmic teleology’ (that is, that the universe has a
purpose). The existence of the universe is just a giant accident; it has
no purpose.
4. Darwin ‘established materialistic/naturalistic philosophy’. That is,
God is an unnecessary hypothesis.
5. Darwin ‘ended Aristotelian essentialism’ (that is, the belief that
things live because of some vital essence, life force, or spirit, rather
than because of mechanisms understandable to scientists).2
6. Darwin ‘refuted catastrophism’. For Darwin, present processes
operating over long periods of time accounted for the world and
everything in it.
7. Darwin ‘ended absolute anthropocentrism’. That is, Shermer claims
that Darwin established that man is just an animal; man is nothing
special. He is just another accident of cosmic evolution, with no
ultimate purpose.
Biology Project
Name: Nishant Rai
Class: X - B
Roll No: 30
Subject: Charles Darwin