The Life Of Charles Darwin Essay

1438 words - 6 pages

Charles Darwin was born on February 9 in 1809. As the son of a wealthy British physician, Darwin enjoyed a well-educated background. Darwin attended medical school at the University of Edinburgh in England. He dropped out of medical school after watching surgery on a patient without anesthetics. Darwin then enrolled at the University of Cambridge to study for the clergy.John Henslow, professor of Botany at Cambridge, sparked an interest in Darwin to study natural history and to become a naturalist. Henslow recommended Darwin to take the position of a naturalist aboard the ship the HMS Beagle. As a naturalist Darwin was to keep careful recordings and to study the wildlife the ship encounters on its voyage.Henslow also gave Darwin the book The Principals of Geology by Charles Lyell. The book emphasized the great age of the earth and the principals of uniformitarianism. Uniformitarianism is the geological structure of the earth that resulted from cycles of observable processes operating continuously through time. Darwin applied these principals in developing his theories.In 1831, Darwin, age twenty, left his native England aboard the ship the HMS Beagle. The Captain of the Beagle was Robert Fitzroy, an illegitimate ancestor of King Charles II. The Beagle traveled to South America and the South Pacific over the course of five years. Some of the places that the ship traveled are Brazil, Argentina, the Falkland Islands, New Zealand, and of course the Galapagos Islands. The ship would often leave Darwin on his own to explore the region and picked up by the ship several months later. When arriving on the Galapagos Islands Darwin became fascinated with the ecosystem and collected most of the information needed for his theory and the book he authored The Origin of Species.Darwin's first question when arriving on the Galapagos Islands was "How did so many plants and animals arrive on the islands?" He would spend the next twenty-one years trying to answer that and other related questions. Darwin's first approach to answer that question was to reason that some of the marine life might have arrived on the islands via sea currents. He believed that the sea lions, fur seals, and penguins had traveled these currents just as the giant tortoise did. To explain the insects and small rodents, Darwin alleged that during the rain season small rafts of vegetation could have carried these insects and rodents to the islands. Another factor was wind. Darwin assumed that the wind could carry spiders and small snails along with light spores of plants. Strong winds pushed birds, bats, and other "weak fliers" into the islands. Most of the other plants reached the islands by way of other animals.Once all of these species were on the land they established themselves and determined territories. Darwin believed that evolution set in and many unique species formed over the years to adapt to the land and the food resources. Such an example is the finch. With over thirteen species...

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