Short Bio of Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin is arguably the most important naturalist that the world has ever known. Through his works, Darwin gave compelling explanations of the origin and evolution of the numerous types of living things in the world. His theories were supported by ample scientific evidences, which were gathered during his travels around the world.

Charles Robert Darwin was born on the 12th of February, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. He was the fifth child of successful doctor Robert Waring Darwin and Susannah Wedgewood. His father was the son of the famous philosopher and botanist

Erasmus Darwin while his mother was the daughter of Josiah Wedgewood, the well-known English potter. Darwin had an ordinary life as a child. He was a slow learner, and he did not enjoy going to school. He had a natural passion for botany, and he spent a lot of time exploring his father's land, collecting any interesting creature he could find. He also enjoyed doing chemical and mineralogical experiments with his elder brother Erasmus. The two of them had a laboratory in their garden shed.

Darwin attended the Shrewsbury School when he was 8 years old. After he graduated, he tried to follow his father's wishes by studying medicine at the University of Edinburgh. However, he had little interest in medicine, and he decided to pursue a different career. In 1828, Darwin went to the University of Cambridge to prepare for a career as a clergyman. It was in Cambridge that he met two very influential figures who would set him on the path of becoming a naturalist. They were geologist Adam Sedgwick and naturalist John Stevens Henslow. Henslow advised him to travel with the HMS Beagle, so that he would have the opportunity to study nature in different parts of the world.

When he was traveling with the HMS Beagle, Darwin compared his observations with the theories of Sir Charles Lyell, an English geologist. He found that Lyell's idea that all species were uniquely created was doubtable, because he noted that animals and fossils in the same geographical region were closely related, even though they had different structures and feeding habits.

Darwin returned to England in the year 1836, and he started recording his observations and ideas in a notebook. In 1839, he got married with his cousin Emma Wedgewood, and the couple moved to Down House, which was a small estate in London. Emma gave birth to 10 children, but 3 of them passed away during infancy. In 1859, Darwin's On the Origin of Species was published, and it was sold out shortly after it was released. Five more editions of the theory were published. Despite its popularity, many scientists said that Darwin was not able to provide evidence for his hypothesis. It was only after the advent of modern genetics that scientists began to see that Darwin's theory was correct. The strongest opposition, however, came from religious people who believed that life on earth was created by a divine being.

Darwin continued to expand on different aspects of his theory in The Variation of Animals and Plants Under Domestication in 1868, The Descent of Man in 1871, and The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals in 1872. He was initiated into the Royal Society in 1839 and the French Academy of Sciences in 1878. Darwin suffered a heart attack and passed away on the 19th of April, 1882.

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Published: 2010-01-20