Charles Darwin Essay Research Paper Charles Robert

Charles Darwin Essay, Research Paper Charles Robert Darwin was a British scientist who laid the foundation of modern evolutionary theory with his views on life development through natural selection.

Charles Darwin Essay, Research Paper

Charles Robert Darwin was a British scientist who laid the foundation of modern

evolutionary theory with his views on life development through natural selection.

He was born in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, England, on February 12, 1809.

After graduating from the elite school at Shrewsbury in 1825, Darwin

attended the University of Edinburgh where he studied medicine. In 1827 he

dropped out and entered the University of Cambridge in preparation for becoming

a clergyman of the Church of England. While there, Darwin met two important

people in his life: Adam Sedgwick, a geologist, and John Stevens Henslow, a

naturalist. After graduating from Cambridge in 1831, the 22-year-old Darwin was

taken aboard the English survey ship HMS Beagle, mainly because of Henslow’s

recommendation, as an unpaid naturalist on an expedition around the world.

When the voyage began, Darwin didn’t believe that species change through

time, but he did believe in two prevailing ideas of the time. The first theory was

that the earth was 6,000 years old and had remained unchanged except for the

effects of floods and other catastropes. The second was that organisms were

designed especially for certain habitats and appeared on the earth in their present

form.

After reading the works of a noted geologist, Darwin began to change his

ideas. He saw evidence that the earth was much older than 6,000 years. In South

America, he was witness to an earthquake that lifted the land several feet. He

realized that mountains could be built by the action of an earthquake over

millions of years. He found fossils of marine mammals high up on mountains,

and realized that rocks must have been lifted from the ocean.

Darwin also studied plants and animals. On the Galapagos Islands, he

found animals that resembled animals on the South American continent, but not

exactly the same. He understood that they must have come to the islands from

the mainland, and then adapted into new species. He also observed the plant and

animal life of South America, oceanic islands, and the Far East. He noted many

examples that proved that animals in similar environments didn’t always look the

same. For example, the emus of Australia and the rheas of South America are

two very distinct species, but they live in the same basic kind of habitat. Darwin

thought about this, and asked himself the question, if animals were formed for a

specific habitat, why would different species be found in habitats that are so

similar?

After leaving the HMS Beagle and returning to England in 1836, Darwin

began recording his ideas about changeability of species in his Notebooks on the

Transmutation of Species. Darwin’s explanation for how organisms evolved was

brought into sharp focus after he read An Essay on the Principle of Population

by the British economist Thomas Robert Malthus, who explained how human

populations remain in balance. Malthus argued that any increase in the availability

of food for human survival couldn’t match the rate of population growth.

Therefore, the population had to be checked by natural limitations such as famine

and disease, or by actions such as war.

After studying Malthus’s essay, Darwin immediately applied his principles

to plant and animal life, and by 1838 he had arrived at his first idea of the

theory of evolution through natural selection. For the next twenty years, he

worked on his theory and other natural history projects. In 1839, he married his

first cousin, Emma Wedgwood, and soon after moved to a small estate, Down

House, outside of London. There he and his wife had ten children, three of

which died during infancy.

Darwin’s theory was first announced in 1858 in a paper presented at the

same time as one by a young naturalist named Alfred Russel Wallace. Friends

arranged for the two men to present a paper together before the Linnaean Society

of London. On November 24, 1859, an abstract of Darwin’s theory was published

under the long title of On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,

or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life. Darwin’s complete

theory was published later in 1859, in On the Origin of Species. Commonly

referred to as “The book that shook the world,” the Origin sold out on the first

day of publication and subsequently went through six editions.

In this book, Darwin presented his idea that species evolve from a more

primitive species through the process known as natural selection, which works

spontaneously in nature. Darwin pointed out in his account of how natural

selection occurs, known as Darwinism, that not all individuals undergo changes

and that some changes make the particular animal better suited to particular

environmental conditions. He pointed out that most species produce more eggs and

offspring than ever reach maturity. He theorized that well-adapted animals of a

species have a better chance of reaching maturity and producing offspring tha

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