Charles Darwin: Life to Death
When most people think of Charles Darwin they associate his name with the theory of evolution. The Darwinian Theory not only aroused controversy, while at the same time created a new form of scientific thought. Darwin did more than just come up with the theory of evolution, he married his cousin. All joking aside, he was a remarkable man that would have a tremendous impact on the scientific community as a whole. His ideas and discoveries lead to new ways for people to think that were not accepted in previous years. Darwin took a naturalist approach on the creation of people, and all other living organisms beginning from a young age until his death. He offended many people and was looked down upon but nothing stopped him. Charles Darwin and his undertakings are noteworthy because they shape our view of evolution, natural history, the classification of plants and animal species and the basis of the study of genetics. Darwin’s theory of Survival of the fittest was created after extraneous research, discoveries, and criticism by religion.
Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England in the county town Shropshire. Growing up Darwin was the second youngest of six siblings. He came from a long line of scientists of which is father was a medical doctor and his grandfather a botanist. He came from a privileged household and did not have to worry about the financial stresses that plague the common folk. The wealth that his family provided him with allowed him to be highly educated and experience different lands and organisms to further his studies. At the age of sixteen he enrolled at Edinburgh University. Two years later he became a student at Christ’s College in Cambridge. His father always hoped that he would follow in his footsteps and become a doctor. However, Darwin did not like blood and got sick at the sight of it. Darwin’s scientific views were not limited to medical science. They were far more broad and included ideas of the genetics of people and how they had evolved and were created. The ideas that Darwin focused on were not the main focus of many other scientists so he was allowed room for error. Although he did not need much room because his discoveries were the first of many and were not comparable. Darwin knew that he wanted to continue on his naturalist path which leads him to his first voyage to the Galapagos Islands on a ship named the Beagle. He was persuaded and influenced by his professor, at Christ’s College, who Darwin claims in his autobiography to be his mentor. The voyage allowed Darwin access to land and environments different than the one he had studied over and over. “He was able to study first hand geology including fossils and a multitude of organisms”. (Huth) While he was on the island he encountered native people. The native people had an influence on Darwin’s studies of adaption and survival of the fittest. “He methodically collected an enormous number of specimens many of which were new to science, thus giving him his reputation as a naturalist”. (Huth) Before he left the island he contracted a disease known as Chagas Disease from an insect bite, but that did not take away his motivation to continue discovering and exploring new ideas. Darwin’s theory first developed as he started to notice similarities in the fossils of extinct species when compared to living species of similar origin. This concept only grew larger as he studied fossils in different places. He began noticing patterns in particular species. Over the years it eventually leads to his concept: Survival of the Fittest. Darwin had four main notions that made up his theory: Variation, Heritability, Competition, and Differential Survival.” Natural selection, or “survival of the fittest”, is an evolutionary shift in a species”. (Hawkins) This takes place when members of a species own specific genetic traits that are valuable to their survival in a specific environment. Those that...
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