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Charles Robert Darwin

  • Lamarck Proposed his Theory

    Lamarck Proposed his Theory
    In 1801, A French naturalist named Jean Baptiste Pierre Antione do Monet, Chevalier do Lamarck took a great conceptual step and propose a full-blown theory of evolution. Profession: Botanist; Naturalist
  • Birth

    Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12th, 1809 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire England, at his family home, The Mount. He was the fifth of six children of wealthy society doctor and financier Robert Darwin and Susannah Darwin. His grandfathers Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood were both prominent abolitionists.
  • Mothers death

    Darwin's mother died when he was eight, and he was cared for by his three elder sisters. The boy stood in awe of his overbearing father, whose astute medical observations taught him much about human psychology. But he hated the rote learning of Classics at the traditional Anglican Shrewsbury School, where he studied between 1818 and 1825.
  • Studied at Anglican Shrewsbury School

    Darwin hated the rote learning of Classics at the traditional Anglican Shrewsbury School, where he studied between 1818 and 1825. Science was then considered dehumanizing in English public schools, and for dabbling in Chemistry Darwin was condemned by his headmaster (and nickname 'Gas' by his schoolmates.)
  • Sent to Edinburgh University

    His father, considering the 16-year old a wastrel interested only in game shooting, sent him to study medicine at Edinburgh in 1825. Later in life, Darwin gave the impression that he had learned little during his two years at Edinburgh. In fact, it was a formative experience. There was no better science education in a British university. He was taught to understand the chemistry of cooling rocks on the primitive Earth and how to classify plants by the modern "natural system."
  • Edinburgh Museum

    At the Edinburgh Museum he was taught to stuff birds by John Edmonstone, a freed South American slave, and to identify the rock strata and colonial flora and fauna. More crucially, he university's radical students exposed the teenager to the latest Continental sciences. Edinburgh attracted English Dissenters who were barred from graduating at the Anglican universities of Oxford and Cambridge, and at student societies Darwin heard freethinkers deny the Divine design.
  • Robert Edmond Grant Mentored Darwin

    Darwin was witnessing the social penalties of holding deviant views. As he collected sea slugs and sea pens on nearby shores, he was accompanied by Robert Edmond Grant, a radical evolutionist and disciple of the French biologist Lamarck. An Expert on sponges, Grant became Darwin's mentor, teaching him about the growth and relationships of primitive marine invertebrates, which Grant believed held the key to unlocking the mysteries surrounding the origin of more complex creatures.
  • Christ's College, Cambridge

    The young Darwin learned much in Edinburgh's rich intellectual environment, but not medicine: he loathed anatomy, and (pre-chloroform) surgery sickened him. His freethinking father, shrewdly realizing that the church was a better calling for an aimless naturalist, switched him to Christ's college, Cambridge, in 1828. In a complete change of environment, Darwin was now educated as an Anglican gentleman.
  • Bachelor of Arts Degree

    He took his horse, indulged his drinking, shooting, and beetle-collecting passions with other squires' sons, and managed 10th place in the Bachelor of Arts degree in 1831. Here he was shown the conservative side of botany by a young professor, the Reverend John Stevens Henslow, while that doyen of Providential design in the animal world.
  • Geologic Field Trip

    Geologic Field Trip
    The Reverend Adam Sedgwick, took Darwin to Wales in 1831 on a geologic field trip. Fired by Alexander von Humboldt's account of the South American jungles in his Personal Narrative of Travels, Darwin jumped at Henslow's suggestion of a voyage to Tierra del Fuego, at the southern tip of South America, aboard a rebuilt brig, HMS Beagle. Darwin would not sail as a lowly surgeon-naturalist but as a self financed gentleman companion to the 26-year-old captain, Robert FitzRoy, an aristocrat.
  • Captain, Robert Fitzroy

    Captain, Robert Fitzroy, and aristocrat who feared the loneliness of command. Fitzroy's was to be an imperial-evangelical voyage: he planned to survey coastal Patagonia to facilitate British trade and return three "savages" previously brought to England from Tierra del Fuego and Christianized. Darwin equipped himself with weapons, books, and advice on preserving carcasses from London Zoo's experts, they sailed December 27, 1831.
  • Cape Verde Islands

    The hardship was immediate: a tormenting seasickness. And so was his questioning: on calm days Darwin's plankton-filled townet left him wondering why beautiful creatures teemed in the ocean's vastness, where no human could appreciate them. On the Cape Verde Islands (January 1832), the sailor saw bands of oyster shells running through local rocks, suggesting that Lyell was right in his geologic speculations and that the land was rising in places, falling in others.
  • Fossil

    His fossil discoveries raised more questions. Darwin's periodic trips over two years to the cliffs at Bahia Blanca and farther south at Port St. Julian yielded huge bones of extinct mammals. Darwin manhandled skulls, femurs, and armor plates back to the ship-relics, he assumed, of rhinoceroses, mastodons, cowshed armadillos, and giant ground sloths (such as Megatherium).
  • Salvador de Bahia

    At Salvador de Bahia, Brazil, the luxuriance of the rainforest left Darwin's mind in "a chaos of delight." But that mind, with its Wedgwood abolitionist characteristics, was revolted by the local slavery. For Darwin, so often alone, the tropical forests seemed to compensate for humans evils: months were spent in Pio de Janeiro amid that shimmering tropical splendor, full of "gaily-coloured" flatworms, and the collector himself became "red-hot with spiders." But nature had its own evils.
  • Tierra del Fuego

    His contact with "untamed" humans on Tierra del Fuego in December 1832 unsettled him more. How great, wrote Darwin, the "difference between savage & civilized man is. - It is greater than between a wild & (a) domesticated animal." God had evidently created humans in a vast cultural range, and yet judging by the Christianized savages aboard, even the "lowest" races were capable of improvement. Darwin was tantalized, and always he niggled for explanations.
  • Horse-Sized Mammal

    He unearthed a horse-sized mammal with a long face like an anteater's, and he returned from a 340-mile ride to Mercedes near the Uruguay River with a skull 28 inches long strapped to his horse. Fossil extraction became a romance for Darwin. It pushed him in thinking of the primeval world and what had caused the giant beasts to die out. The land was evidently changing, rising; Darwin's observations in Andes Mountains conformed it.
  • Lyell

    The land had risen: Lyell, taking the uniformitarian position, had argued that geologic formations were the result of steady cumulative forces of the sort we see today. And Darwin had seen them. The continent was thrusting itself up, a few feet at a time he imagined the eons it had taken to raise the fossilized trees in sandstone to 7,000 feet, where he found them. Darwin began thinking in herms of deep time.
  • Galapagos Islands

    They left Peru on the circumnavigation home in September 1835. First Darwin landed on the "flying hot" Galapagos Islands. Those were volcanic prison island, crawling with marine iguanas and giant tortoises. (Darwin and the crew brought small tortoises aboard as pets, to join heir coatis from Peru.) Contrary to legend, those islands never provided Darwin's "eureka" moment. Although he noted that the mockingbirds differed on four islands tagged his specimens accordingly.
  • West Coast

    West Coast
    After the Beagle surveyed the Falkland Islands, and after Darwin had packed away at Port Desire (Puerto Deseado), Argentina, the partially gnawed bones of a new species of small rhea, the ship sailed up the west coast of South America to Valparaiso, Chile. Here Darwin climbed 4,000 feet into the Andean foothills and marveled at the forces that could raise such mountains. The forces themselves became tangible when he saw volcanic Mount Osorno erupt on January 15, 1835.
  • Concepcion

    In Valdivia, Chile, on February 20, as he lay on a forest floor, the ground shook: the violence of the earthquake and ensuing tidal wave was enough to destroy the great city of Concepcion, whose rubble Darwin walked through. But what intrigued him was. the seemingly insignificant: the local mussel beds, all dead, were now lying above high tide.
  • Home-Sick Heroes

    The 'home-sick heroes' returned via Tahiti, New Zealand, and Australia. By April 1836, when the beagle made the Cocos Islands in the Indian Ocean-Fitzroy's brief being to see if coral reefs sat on mountain tops-Darwin already had his theory of reef formation. He imagined that those reefs grew on sinking mountains rims. The delicate coral build up, compensating for the drowning land, so as to remain within optimal heat and lighting conditions.
  • Cape of Good Hope

    At the Cape of Good Hope, Darwin talked with the astronomer Sir John Herschel, possibly about Lyell's gradual geologic evolution and perhaps about how it entailed a new problem, the 'mystery of mysteries," the simultaneous change of fossil life. On the last leg of the voyage Darwin finished his 77--page diary, wrapped up 1,750 pages of notes, drew up catalogs of 5,436 skins, bones, and carcasses-and still he wondered: Was each Galapagos mockingbird a naturally produced variety?
  • Theory Formation

    Theory Formation
    Darwin formulated his bold theory in private in 1837-39, after returning from a voyage around the world aboard HMS Beagle, but it wasn't until two decades later that he finally gave it full public expression in On the Origin of Species (1859), a book that has deeply influenced modern Western society and thought.
  • Voyage End

    Voyage End
    With his voyage over and with £400 annual allowance from his father, Darwin now settled down among the urban gentry as a gentleman geologist. He befriended Lyell, and he discussed the rising Chilean coastline as a new fellow of the Geological Society in January 1837.
  • Sickness

    Heart palpitations and stomach problems were affecting him by September 1837.
  • Secretary of the Society

    By 1838 he was the secretary of the Geological Society
  • Lionized in Landon

    With a £1,000 Treasury grant, obtained through the Cambridge network, he employed the best expert and published their descriptions of his specimens in his specimens in his Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S Beagle (1838-43). Darwin's star had risen, and he was now lionized in London.
  • Highlands of Scotland

    Stress sent him to the Highlands of Scotland in 1838, where he diverted himself studying the "parallel roads" of Glen Roy, so like the raised beaches in Chile. But sickness returned as he continued chopping at the scientific bedrock of cleric-dominated society. The "whole (miraculous) fabric totters & falls," he jotted. Darwin had a right to be worried. Were his secret discovered, he would stand accused of social abandon.
  • His Diary

    Darwin became well known through his diary's publication as Journal or Researches into the Geology and Natural History of the Various Countries Visited by H.M.S Beagle (1839).
  • Response to John Fordyce

    Towards the end of his life Darwin quoted this in a response to a letter from John Fordyce."In my most extreme fluctuations I have never been an atheist in the sense of denying the existence of a God.— I think that generally (& more and more so as I grow older) but not always, that an agnostic would be the most correct description of my state of mind."
  • Rio de la Plata

    On the river Plate (Rio de la Plata) in July 1882, he found Montevideo, Uruguay, in a state of rebellion and joined armed sailors to retake the rebel-held fort. At Bahia Blanca, Argentina, gauchos to him of their extermination of the Pampas "Indians." Beneath the veneer of Human civility, genocide seemed the rule on the frontier, a conclusion reinforced by Darwin's meeting with General Juan Manuel de Rosas and his "villainous Banditti-like army," in charge of eradicating the natives.
  • Death

    Darwin died on April 19th 1882 at the rightful age of 73 in Downe Kent England after being diagnosed with a disease called anigina pectoris. At the time of his death, the physicians diagnosed "anginas attacks", and "heart failure. It was speculated that Darwin may have suffered from chronic Chagas Disease. This speculation is based on a journal entry written by Darwin, describing being bitten by the "Kissing Bug" in Mendoza, Argentina, in 1835.
  • Laid to Rest

    Laid to Rest
    On Wednesday, April 26, 1882, the body of Charles Darwin is laid to rest in Westminster Abbey. Initially Darwin was to be buried near his family home in the countryside. After persuading Emma, Darwin's scientific friends lobbied for a place in Westminster Abbey.