• Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

Charles Darwin

Extracts from this document...


Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. He was the British naturalist who became famous for his theories of evolution and natural selection. Like several scientists before him, Darwin believed all the life on earth evolved (developed gradually) over millions of years from a few common ancestors. From 1831 to 1836 Darwin served as naturalist aboard the H.M.S. Beagle on a British science expedition around the world. In South America Darwin found fossils of extinct animals that were similar to modern species. On the Galapagos Islands in the Pacific Ocean he noticed many variations among plants and animals of the same general type as those in South America. The expedition visited places around the world, and Darwin studied plants and animals everywhere he went, collecting specimens for further study. Upon his return to London Darwin conducted thorough research of his notes and specimens. Out of this study grew several related theories: one, evolution did occur; two, evolutionary change was gradual, requiring thousands to millions of years; three, the primary mechanism for evolution was a process called natural selection; and four, the millions of species alive today arose from a single original life form through a branching process called "specialization." Darwin's theory of evolutionary selection holds that variation within species occurs randomly and that the survival or extinction of each organism is determined by that organism's ability to adapt to its environment. ...read more.


So Erasmus's younger son Robert dutifully followed in his older brother's footsteps, and expected his own son, whom he named after his late brother, to practice medicine too. The Charles Darwin who would become famous, however, couldn't stomach dissection. Despite misgivings about his son's lack of direction, Robert Darwin consented to let Charles set sail aboard the Beagle before returning to England to become, as he planned, a country gentleman and parson. (Charles Darwin halfway succeeded -- he remained a country gentleman the rest of his days.) Darwin considered the voyage the defining experience of his life, and he was right -- it provided him with the evidence that would forever change biology. Unfortunately, a bite from a poisonous insect during his travels might have been the cause of Darwin's chronic illness in later years. After returning to London, Darwin became an independent scholar, then eventually married and started a family. Legend holds that Darwin happened upon one of science's most important theories while on his visit to the Galapagos Islands. In fact, Darwin devised no great evolutionary theory until after his return to England, and he was not the first person to propose evolution; it was widely discussed -- at least in scientific circles -- long before he published any of his theories. ...read more.


He didn't (Herbert Spencer did). Darwin developed the theory of natural selection to explain differences between species, but many of his contemporaries, including Spencer and Darwin's own cousin Francis Galton, used his ideas to promote Social Darwinism and eugenics. Social Darwinism maintains that certain groups of people are poorer than others and more likely to be used as slave labor because they're "less evolved" and therefore inferior. (Keep in mind that racism masquerading as science didn't get its start with Social Darwinism. Before that, it thrived in the form of the "Great Chain of Being".) The theory of natural selection was not Darwin's only contribution to science. His observations aboard the Beagle led him to ponder the formation of coral atolls and lay the foundations for modern theories on the formation of coral reefs. In addition to zoology books based on his travels, he published monographs of the cirripedes (marine invertebrates including barnacles) that won the admiration of Richard Owen, the man who would become his nemesis later in life. Although Darwin's theory of natural selection posed perhaps the greatest challenge to a literal belief in scripture, he refused to discuss his own beliefs about a supreme being in public, once writing to his friend Asa Gray, "I feel most deeply that the whole subject is too profound for human intellect. A dog might as well speculate on the mind of Newton." Despite his unorthodox theory, Darwin was buried in Westminster Abbey, in recognition of his remarkable achievements. http://www.strangescience.net/darwin.htm ...read more.

The above preview is unformatted text

This student written piece of work is one of many that can be found in our GCSE Living Things in their Environment section.

Found what you're looking for?

  • Start learning 29% faster today
  • 150,000+ documents available
  • Just £6.99 a month

Not the one? Search for your essay title...
  • Join over 1.2 million students every month
  • Accelerate your learning by 29%
  • Unlimited access from just £6.99 per month

See related essaysSee related essays

Related GCSE Living Things in their Environment essays

  1. Marked by a teacher

    Research question - Is using dogs for work ethical?

    5 star(s)

    losing the race to being physically and verbally abused by its owner/boss and automatically associating the losing- to being sad and disappointed (which is now the conditioned response) even before the dog is abused by its owner. So this is damaging for the dog and is completely unethical in my

  2. Evolution, Natural selection and Darwinism

    "Second Law" - All such changes are heritable Lamarck did not believe in extinction, but the species that disappeared did so because they evolved into different species. Cuvier and his patron Buffon vilified Lamarck's theory. His work also did not become popular at his time so he died in poverty.

  1. Early Humans?

    tugenensis believe it is an early form of gorilla or possibly the ancestor of an extinct ape and have suggested renaming it Sahelpithecus tchadensis (Wolpoff et. al., 2002). Although the CT images are available to everyone, only Brunet and his team have actually examined the skull.

  2. Investigating adaptation, competition and zonation of barnacles, Chthamalus stellatus (Poli) and Balanus balanoides (Linneas) ...

    The reality is that Balanus competitively excludes Chthamalus wherever it can persist, but Balanus stays out of the intertidal zone because there are places where Chthamalus can live and Balanus cannot. This competition would allow the feeding and fertilisation of Balanus to become more rapid as opposed to Chthamalus, which would have limited time to reproduce and feed.

  1. Monitoring an Organism

    In bonobos society sexual activity happens within the immediate family as well as outside the family, and often it involves adults and children, even infants. Bonobo reproductive rates are not any higher than the Common Chimpanzee. Female Bonobos carry and nurse their young for five years and can give birth every five to six years.

  2. Extinction of Species Writing Assignment - The Hawaiian Hoary Bat.

    On the positive side, though, predation is not currently a threat to the populations of the Hawaiian Hoary Bat (Shump and Shump 1982). Human-made structures and human-caused conditions in the environment (an ultimate cause) exert a "predation pressure" on the Hawaiian hoary bat.

  1. Investigation of Ecology on Four Sites on the River Nar

    Measure the colour the water turns against the chart on the box this will give you the pH of the water. The procedure was repeated for the four other sites. Equipment list Sample tray Sampling Net Thermometer Various Chemical test kits Methyleneblue Method The results for this investigation were obtained by using the following procedure.

  2. Estimating the population of non-grass plants on the school fields.

    for 20 years until 1856, when his book 'On the Origin of Species' was printed. Their are many other theories about the way the life developed, however most scientist believe that the theory of evolution is the right theory because it has the most experiment that support it.

  • Over 160,000 pieces
    of student written work
  • Annotated by
    experienced teachers
  • Ideas and feedback to
    improve your own work