Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was the English naturalist who proposed the theory of evolution by natural selection

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Dinosaur Jungle   >   Dinosaur Scientists   >   Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin



Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was the English naturalist who proposed the theory of evolution by Natural Selection.

Charles Darwin was born on England. On his father's side, he was the grandson of Erasmus Darwin (who is himself famous as a natural philosopher), and on his mother's, the grandson of Josiah Wedgwood (famous for the industrialization of pottery manufacture).

Charles Darwin was educated at Edinburgh and Cambridge Universities, and famously went on a 5 year (1831 to 1836) voyage with HMS Beagle - while the ship surveyed and charted coasts, Darwin investigated geology and collected natural history specimens.

HMS Beagle painted by Conrad Martens:
HMS Beagle painted by Conrad Martens

Over the next few years, Darwin gradually developed his theory of Natural Selection. Darwin however held back from publishing his theory, perhaps noting the storm of controversy caused by a popular-science book about Lamarkian evolution, Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation, which was anonymously published (but written by a Scottish journalist, Robert Chambers). Although, Darwin considered the science of Vestiges of the Natural History of Creation to be weak, it did allow to further develop his own work, and anticipate potential counter-arguments.

In 1856, through his friend, the eminent geologist Sir Charles Lyell, Darwin became aware of the work of Alfred Russel Wallace, who seemed to be thinking along similar lines to Darwin. Lyell urged Darwin to publish in order to establish priority, and Darwin began work on a short paper - which eventually grew into a large book. In 1857, Darwin sent an abstract of his book to the American botanist, Asa Grey. In 1858, while Darwin's own book was still only half complete, Darwin received a paper from Wallace describing Natural Selection. As a result, although Darwin himself could not attend since his baby son had died of scarlet fever, Darwin's friends Lyell and Joseph Dalton Hooker, made a joint presentation to the Linnean Society on July 1st. Finally, in 1859, Darwin published "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life" (usually abbreviated to simply "On the Origin of Species" which was an immediate success, but also caused a storm of controversy.

"On the Origin of Species" soon became a staple scientific text, and was translated into many different languages. Despite a number of illnesses, Darwin continued to publish many other books through the remainder his life.

Charles Darwin in 1868:
Charles Darwin in 1868

Darwin died in 1882, aged 71, and was given a state funeral at Westminister Abbey (one of only five non-royals to ever receive this honor). Even during his lifetime, many species and geographical places and locations have been named after him, and this has continued through to the present day. Many biographical and fictional works about Darwin's life have been written, he has also been remembered on British currency (including a special commemorative two pound coin issued in 2009) and by Darwin Day, which marks the anniversary of his birth.

During Darwin's life, the main opposition to his theory came from religious people, and even today there are many religious people who do not accept the idea of evolution or Darwin's ideas in particular. (although in 2008 the Church of England issued an apology stating "for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still"). As far as the scientific community is concerned, although the idea of evolution was quickly and widely accepted, it took quite a few years until Darwin's mechanism, Natural Selection, was generally accepted as the process by which evolution occurred - indeed it was not until the development of the "Modern Evolutionary Synthesis" (which combined Darwin's theory of Natural Selection with Mendelian genetics) in the 1930s. Today however, although there remains debate about various detailed technical issues, Natural Selection and Mendelian genetics together form the basis of our understanding of biology.
Caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape
(from The Hornet magazine 1871):
Caricature of Charles Darwin as an ape



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The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition
By Charles Darwin

Signet Book
Released: 2003-09-02
Mass Market Paperback (576 pages)

The Origin of Species: 150th Anniversary Edition
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Charles Darwin’s classic that exploded into public controversy, revolutionized the course of science, and continues to transform our views of the world.

Few other books have created such a lasting storm of controversy as The Origin of Species. Darwin’s theory that species derive from other species by a gradual evolutionary process and that the average level of each species is heightened by the “survival of the fittest” stirred up popular debate to fever pitch. Its acceptance revolutionized the course of science.

As Sir Julian Huxley, the noted biologist, points out in his illuminating introduction, the importance of Darwin’s contribution to modern scientific knowledge is almost impossible to evaluate: “a truly great book, one which can still be read with profit by professional biologist.”

Includes an Introduction by Sir Julian Huxley
From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin's Four Great Books (Voyage of the Beagle, The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals)
By Charles Darwin

Darwin, Charles/ Wilson, Edward O.
Hardcover (1706 pages)

From So Simple a Beginning: Darwin s Four Great Books (Voyage of the Beagle, The Origin of Species, The Descent of Man, The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals)
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Hailed as "superior" by Nature, this landmark volume is  available in a collectible, boxed edition.

Never before have the four great works of Charles Darwin―Voyage of the H.M.S. Beagle (1845), The Origin of Species (1859), The Descent of Man (1871), and The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals (1872)―been collected under one cover. Undertaking this challenging endeavor 123 years after Darwin's death, two-time Pulitzer Prize winner Edward O. Wilson has written an introductory essay for the occasion, while providing new, insightful introductions to each of the four volumes and an afterword that examines the fate of evolutionary theory in an era of religious resistance. In addition, Wilson has crafted a creative new index to accompany these four texts, which links the nineteenth-century, Darwinian evolutionary concepts to contemporary biological thought. Beautifully slipcased, and including restored versions of the original illustrations, From So Simple a Beginning turns our attention to the astounding power of the natural creative process and the magnificence of its products. 101 illustrations
Charles Darwin's On the Origin of Species
Crown Books for Young Readers
Released: 2019-10-29
Hardcover (64 pages)

Charles Darwin s On the Origin of Species
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A picture book adaptation of Charles Darwin's groundbreaking On the Origin of Species, lushly illustrated and told in accessible and engaging easy-to-understand text for young readers.

On the Origin of Species revolutionized our understanding of the natural world. Now young readers can discover Charles Darwin's groundbreaking theory of evolution for themselves in this stunning picture-book adaptation that uses stylish illustrations and simple text to introduce how species form, develop, and change over time.
A Modest Genius: The story of Darwin's Life and how his ideas changed everything
By Hanne Strager

CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform
Paperback (232 pages)

A Modest Genius: The story of Darwin s Life and how his ideas changed everything
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Part biography, part popular science, A Modest Genius provides a lively, engaging account of Darwin’s life and the events that inspired his groundbreaking theory. Science writer and biologist Hanne Strager brings Darwin to life while offering the essential elements of evolution and how they affect us today.

Much has been written on Darwin’s life, his groundbreaking work, and the influence he has had on modern scientific thought and advancements, but most books assume a certain level of scientific knowledge. A Modest Genius changes that, offering an accessible, easy-to-understand discussion of Darwin’s work.

Readers follow Darwin from his early years through his travels. Hanne Strager explains how Darwin assembled the pieces of a fascinating puzzle while also describing the fundamental principles of evolution.

Darwin’s theory, by necessity, was incomplete when he proposed it. He lacked modern knowledge of the fossil record, DNA, and genetics. Strager explains how advances in these and other scientific areas expanded on Darwin’s original work. She also discusses the ongoing conflict between religion and evolution, including the famous Scopes Monkey Trial and the battle Darwin himself fought between faith and intellect.

Bold, exciting, and easily understood, A Modest Genius offers an opportunity to understand one of the greatest scientific breakthroughs of the modern age.

On the Origin of Species: A Facsimile of the First Edition (Harvard Paperbacks)
By Charles Darwin

Brand: Harvard University Press
Released: 1964-01-01
Paperback (540 pages)

On the Origin of Species: A Facsimile of the First Edition (Harvard Paperbacks)
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It is now generally recognized that the publication of Darwin's Origin of Species in 1859 not only decisively altered the basic concepts of biological theory but had a profound and lasting influence on social, philosophic, and religious thought. This work is rightly regarded as one of the most important books ever printed.

The first edition had a freshness and uncompromising directness that were considerably weakened in subsequent editions. Nearly all reprints were based on the greatly modified sixth edition (1872), and the only modern reprint changes pagination, making references to the original very difficult. Clearly, there has been a need for a facsimile reprint. Professor Mayr's introduction has a threefold purpose: to list passages in the first edition that Darwin altered in later editions; to point out instances in which Darwin was clearly pioneering; and to call attention to neglected passages that show Darwin as a much deeper thinker than has been recognized. No one can fail to be impressed by the originality of Darwin's treatment and by the intellectual challenge his work presents even to the modern reader.

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution (Great Discoveries)
By David Quammen

Quammen, David
Paperback (304 pages)

The Reluctant Mr. Darwin: An Intimate Portrait of Charles Darwin and the Making of His Theory of Evolution (Great Discoveries)
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"Quammen brilliantly and powerfully re-creates the 19th century naturalist's intellectual and spiritual journey."--Los Angeles Times Book Review

Twenty-one years passed between Charles Darwin's epiphany that "natural selection" formed the basis of evolution and the scientist's publication of On the Origin of Species. Why did Darwin delay, and what happened during the course of those two decades? The human drama and scientific basis of these years constitute a fascinating, tangled tale that elucidates the character of a cautious naturalist who initiated an intellectual revolution.
On the Origin of Species: The Illustrated Edition
By Charles Darwin

Sterling Signature
Paperback (560 pages)

On the Origin of Species: The Illustrated Edition
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Now in paperback, this richly illustrated edition of Charles Darwin's paradigm-shattering masterpiece brings Darwin's life and controversial theories into full view. Edited and with an introduction by award-winning science journalist David Quammen, it features more than 300 illustrations, including paintings, personal photographs, botanical and zoological studies, and newspaper engravings. Excerpts from Darwin's other works, especially The Voyage of the Beagle, and facsimile pages from his letters and diaries invite readers to experience Darwin's journey and scientific breakthrough. 

On The Origin of Species
By Sabina Radeva

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Released: 2019-02-07
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On The Origin of Species
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The first ever picture-book retelling of Charles Darwin's On The Origin of Species; this accessible work brings evolution to the younger generation through stylish illustrations and a simple, easy-to-understand text.

On The Origin of Species has been the definitive explanation of the theory of evolution since it was first published in 1859. Now molecular biologist and illustrator Sabina Radeva unites her two passions to create a 48-page retelling of this seminal text.

Pulling together Darwin's observations from his travels around the world and his groundbreaking - and controversial - explanation of how species form, develop and change over hundreds of thousands of years, On The Origin of Species is as relevant and important now as it ever was.

The Origin of Species and the Voyage of the Beagle
By Charles Darwin

Everyman s Library
Released: 2003-10-14
Hardcover (1024 pages)

The Origin of Species and the Voyage of the Beagle
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Easily the most influential book published in the nineteenth century, Darwin’s The Origin of Species is also that most unusual phenomenon, an altogether readable discussion of a scientific subject. On its appearance in 1859 it was immediately recognized by enthusiasts and detractors alike as a work of the greatest importance: its revolutionary theory of evolution by means of natural selection provoked a furious reaction that continues to this day.

The Origin of Species
is here published together with Darwin’s earlier Voyage of the ‘Beagle.’ This 1839 account of the journeys to South America and the Pacific islands that first put Darwin on the track of his remarkable theories derives an added charm from his vivid description of his travels in exotic places and his eye for the piquant detail.

On the Origin of Species
By Charles Darwin

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On the Origin of Species
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On the Origin of Species (or more completely, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life), published on 24 November 1859, is a work of scientific literature by Charles Darwin which is considered to be the foundation of evolutionary biology. Darwin's book introduced the scientific theory that populations evolve over the course of generations through a process of natural selection. It presented a body of evidence that the diversity of life arose by common descent through a branching pattern of evolution. Darwin included evidence that he had gathered on the Beagle expedition in the 1830s and his subsequent findings from research, correspondence, and experimentation.Various evolutionary ideas had already been proposed to explain new findings in biology. There was growing support for such ideas among dissident anatomists and the general public, but during the first half of the 19th century the English scientific establishment was closely tied to the Church of England, while science was part of natural theology. Ideas about the transmutation of species were controversial as they conflicted with the beliefs that species were unchanging parts of a designed hierarchy and that humans were unique, unrelated to other animals. The political and theological implications were intensely debated, but transmutation was not accepted by the scientific mainstream.The book was written for non-specialist readers and attracted widespread interest upon its publication. As Darwin was an eminent scientist, his findings were taken seriously and the evidence he presented generated scientific, philosophical, and religious discussion. The debate over the book contributed to the campaign by T. H. Huxley and his fellow members of the X Club to secularise science by promoting scientific naturalism. Within two decades there was widespread scientific agreement that evolution, with a branching pattern of common descent, had occurred, but scientists were slow to give natural selection the significance that Darwin thought appropriate. During "the eclipse of Darwinism" from the 1880s to the 1930s, various other mechanisms of evolution were given more credit. With the development of the modern evolutionary synthesis in the 1930s and 1940s, Darwin's concept of evolutionary adaptation through natural selection became central to modern evolutionary theory, and it has now become the unifying concept of the life sciences.


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