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Charles Darwin Background

By ar8718 Mar 06, 2011 722 Words
Oral Report-Charles Darwin (1809-1882)

Darwin was the British scientist whose useful studies and conceptual establishment laid the basis of the theory of evolution and changed the way we think about the natural world and the spiritual land.

Early to Mid life (1809-1822)-
I. Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, a western town in England. a. Darwin’s childhood was filled with misfortune when his mother died when he was only eight years old. II. In 1822, Charles and his brother Erasmus built a small chemistry lab in the garden shed in back of their house. Darwin acted as assistant to his older brother, and they often worked into the late hours of the night experimenting with chemical reactions, which produced various gases. It seems no one approved of Darwin's foray into chemistry. His classmates poked fun at his new hobby by calling him "Gas Darwin," the headmaster of the school scolded him for wasted his time with such non-sense, and his sisters feared he would blow-up the house! Darwin learned many things in his brother's lab: the most important of which were the proper methods of scientific experimentation - a set of skills that would greatly benefit him in his future career as a naturalist. a. When Darwin enrolled at the Edinburgh University, he initially planned to follow a medical career. However, he changed his mind and went on to study theology at Cambridge.

Middle life (1836-1844)-
I. Darwin returned to England in October 1836. Darwin sent many specimens to professionals to study. A bird specialist, or ornithologist, had studied Darwin's bird collections from the Galapagos Islands that were located about 1,000 km west of South America. Darwin had collected 13 similar but separate species of finches. The similarities of the Galapagos finches led Darwin to conclude that the finches shared a common ancestor. The resemblance between the fossil mammals Darwin collected and modern mammals led him to believe that species do change over time. II. In 1837 Darwin began his first notebook on evolution. For several years Darwin filled his notebooks with facts that could be used to support the theory of evolution. He asked animal and plant breeders about changes in domestic species. Darwin ran his own breeding experiments and also did experiments on seed spreading. III. Darwin gathered evidence for evolution by natural selection for about 20 years. During 1842 and 1844 he wrote a 230 page essay summarizing his theory and the data for it.

Later life (1858-1882)-
III. After learning that another environmentalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, had developed similar ideas, the two made a joint announcement of their discovery in 1858. In 1859 Darwin published 'On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection' also known as “Survival of the fittest.” a. The book was extremely controversial because the logical extension of Darwin's theory was that homosapiens were animals as well. It made it seem possible that even people might just have evolved, quite possibly from apes, and challenged the prominent belief that man was created by God. Consequently, Darwin was violently attacked by the Catholic Church. However, his ideas soon gained currency and now have become the accepted scientific view on man’s origins.

b. Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection details how the world and its species came to be the way that we know them now. Over millions of years, species have evolved. Darwin writes on how a species will adapt to its surrounding with given time. According to Darwin, animals can gain genetic edges over their own species, over their prey, and possibly their predators through random genetic mutations. These favorable mutations enhance the likelihood of their survival. Consequently, the individual animals that obtain these traits thrive and thus, are more apt to reproduce. Reproduction passes along the favorable traits. If enough time passes, an entirely new species may be created. It is through this evolutionary process that the natural world has developed useful diversity that seems too great to be the work of mere possibility.

c. On April 19, 1882, ten years after the publication of his sixth edition of the Origin of Species, Darwin died at the age of seventy-three. Darwin

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