The Thory of Evolution: Charles Darwin and Alfred Wallace

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Theory of Evolution
Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin was a British naturalist born on the 12th of February 1809, the son of Robert Darwin and his wife Susannah. Darwin is known and recognised globally as the ‘scientist who laid the foundations of the theory of evolution and transformed the way we think about the natural world’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk). He was educated at Shrewsbury, Edinburgh University, and Christ’s College, Cambridge. On his graduation in 1831 he was recommended for the post of naturalist aboard the H.M.S. Beagle on a five year survey voyage mostly along the coast of South America. On the voyage, Darwin read Lyell’s ‘Principles of Geology’ which suggested that fossils were in fact animals that lived thousands or millions of years ago. This argument had a strong impact on Darwin’s mind because of his own observation of the rich variety of animal life and the different geological features he saw during his voyage. While visiting the Galapagos Islands Darwin noticed that each island supported its own form of finch which were had only a few, but important differences. He also made the same observation a tortoises living on the different islands. These observations eventually lead him to propose a theory of evolution occurring by the process of natural selection; the theory that ‘The animals (or plants) best suited to their environment are more likely to survive and reproduce, passing on the characteristics which helped them survive to their offspring. Gradually, the species changes over time.’ (http://www.bbc.co.uk) Darwin worked on this theory for 20 years, and after learning that Alfred Russel Wallace had developed similar ideas to his own, they announced their discovery in 1858 together. In 1859 Darwin published ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’ which suggested that homo sapiens were simply another form of animals; most specifically - apes. The book turned out to be extremely controversial because of the clash this...
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