Happy Birthday Charles Darwin

From the Beagle to barnacles, today marks the 212th anniversary of the birth of Charles Darwin, the famous English naturalist who shaped modern science with his theories related to natural selection and evolution.  Born this day in 1809, Darwin travelled to the Galapagos Islands aboard HMS Beagle and his observations about the fauna he encountered during his voyage through much of the Southern Hemisphere led him to speculate that organisms changed over time by a process of natural selection.  When Darwin’s theories were finally published in 1859 in the soon to be famous book “On the Origin of Species by Natural Selection*“, there was a great deal of controversy generated.

Young Charles Darwin

Young Charles Darwin.

An image of a young Charles Darwin.

Picture Credit: Darwin Heirlooms Trust

His studies of the natural world, including research into barnacles and his ground-breaking classification of the infraclass Cirripedia (barnacles are a marine arthropod), helped to establish his reputation in zoological circles.  His work remains a cornerstone within biology and related disciplines including palaeontology.

Happy 212th birthday Charles Darwin.

*Like a lot of Victorian academic publications Darwin’s famous book had a very long title, the full title of the 1859 publication is “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life”.

An avid collector, Darwin amassed a huge number of samples and specimens over his long career, some of his collection still contains a few surprises.  To read a related article about Darwin’s extensive and remarkable collection: The Lost Fossils and a Cabinet of Curiosities.

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