When one ponders the current understanding of evolution and natural selection and where it came from, many names may come to mind. However, the man who gave us the idea of natural selection in the first place was none other than Charles Darwin. While Darwin was not the only one conducting research of this kind, his name stands out as a driving force behind our current understanding of evolution.
Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 to Robert and Susanna Darwin. Darwin’s father Robert was a physician, much as his paternal grandfather Erasmus Darwin. Charles Darwin studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh, but quickly found that his future lay on a different path. Darwin eventually attended Cambridge University, between 1828 – 1831, where he graduated with the intention of becoming a clergyman. In those days, a clergyman was a general lover of all things natural and could be called by some, the original biologists.
Very soon after, indeed the same year as his graduation, Darwin was invited to go along with Captain Robert Fitzroy on a voyage aboard The Beagle. His main role was to be the resident naturalist. During the voyage, Darwin was expected to gather samples and make observations in order to send back to England for classification. Little did Darwin know that the voyage would last five years. While Darwin is known mostly for his work on the Galapagos Islands, he only spent five weeks of his five year journey on the islands. Most of his work was on mainland South America. Through his collection of fossils, skins, skeletons, and various other samples, Darwin was able to postulate about isolation and change within a species.
Darwin spent years after his voyage on The Beagle, cataloguing specimens, consulting with colleagues, and getting everything in order to make sure that he had the best support for his theories. It wasn’t until he read an economic...