Charles Darwin Essay, Research Paper
Worms, tortoises, ostriches, and flies; what do these things have in common? They are all part of Charles Darwin s theories. Darwin spent five years aboard the HMS Beagle studying animal and plant life all over the world. This time, plus the many subsequent years he spent conversing with experts in various fields, led him to write The Origin of Species , often called the book that shook the world . With the simple act of publishing this book, Darwin managed to upset fellow scientists, the public, and, most of all, hard-core religious fanatics.
Charles Darwin entered this world on February 12, 1809. He described himself as a clumsy, mischievous child who strove to be the center of attention. Surprisingly, he did poorly in school. The only subjects he excelled in were geometry and English literature. He also took a liking to science at an early age, collecting minerals and insects, among other things. After receiving an early education from his sister, Caroline, Darwin went on to the elite Shrewsbury school. He then studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh. Soon after he arrived at school, Darwin had reason to believe that his father would leave him enough money to live comfortably for life. He quickly decided to avoid any unnecessary attempts at learning medicine. Two years later, he dropped out.
Since his father still wanted him to have a gentleman s education and career, Darwin entered the University of Cambridge. Despite his intentions of becoming a clergyman, he appeared more interested in fox hunting and collecting beetles than his studies. During his time at Cambridge, he met John Stevens Henslow, a botany professor. Henslow helped build Darwin s self-confidence and taught him how to observe and collect specimens. With Henslow s recommendation, Darwin went on a surveying expedition on the HMS Beagle after graduation. The Beagle traveled to places like the Cape Verde Islands, Brazil, Tierra del Fuego, Buenos Aires, Chile, the Galapagos Islands, Tahiti, New Zealand, and Tasmania. In the Galapagos Islands, Darwin noticed that each island had its own similar, but unique, form of tortoise, mockingbird, and finch. The five years Darwin spent aboard the Beagle proved invaluable to his life s work. The ship returned to England in 1936, giving him over twenty years to develop the ideas that would become The Origin of Species.
One of the theories to come out of this book is that of natural selection. He developed it partially in response to An Essay on the Principle of Population by Thomas Robert Malthus. This book states that only a limited amount of food is available for an ever-expanding number of people. In order for the human population to remain at a reasonable level, things like famine, disease, and war must decrease it. Darwin applied this idea to animals. He claimed that creatures within a species randomly receive unique traits in order to give themselves an advantage over their fellow animals. For example, a bird might be born with a longer beak for easily obtaining food, or feathers that help it hide from predators. They then pass these superior traits on to their offspring, giving them a better chance of survival and improving the species as a whole.
On April 19, 1882, Charles Darwin died after a long struggle with Chagas disease, an illness he contracted during his trip to South America in 1835. Though Darwin and his evolution theories continue to gain much criticism and hatred, he shared his knowledge. Now, thousands of teachers around the world spread the word of Darwin and his contemporaries and evolution is widely accepted as scientific fact, and that is a beautiful thing.