Charles Darwin and the Theory of Evolution

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  • Topic: Charles Darwin, Evolution, Natural selection
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  • Published : November 10, 2012
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“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, nor the most intelligent that survives. It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.”

These are the words of the famous English naturalist Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882). Charles Darwin’s research lead to the now widely accepted scientific theory about natural selection in the process of evolution.

Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England into a wealthy and well-connected family. Following his father’s wishes, Darwin attended Edinburgh University with the intention of becoming a physician. He was not interested in this profession and dropped out. However, during this time he had been interested in his studies of natural history. He then transferred to Cambridge and took up a Bachelor of Arts degree with the intention of becoming an Anglican minister.

In 1831, because of his strong interest in natural history (more so than religion), Darwin joined a five-year scientific expedition on the survey ship HMS Beagle acting as an unpaid naturalist and companion to the wealthy captain of the ship. It was on this voyage where he read Lyell’s Principles of Geology which proposed that the fossils found in rocks were actually evidence of animals that had lived many centuries ago. This provoked Darwin to think about these concepts as he experienced the rich variety of animal life and the many different geological features during his voyage. It was when visiting the Galapagos Islands that his first concepts of the principles of evolution began. He noticed that each island had its own species of finch which were closely related but differed in important ways. For example, finches with longer beaks were found in environments where the nectar was deeply embedded in flowers, finches with sharper beaks were found in environments where seeds were the more abundant food supply. Darwin began to connect this to theories of natural selection.

Darwin continued exploring these theories when he returned to...
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