PreparationHave you ever wondered how theories on evolution came to be? Who was the first to create a revolutionary theory on evolution? The answer is Charles Darwin. Known as the “father of evolution”, Darwin has influenced modern day science greatly.
Without him, we would not be as advanced in our studies about evolution. Darwin was the first to discover natural selection and created a revolutionary paradigm on evolution that many people still believe today. Darwin was born on February 12, 1809 into a family with four other siblings. His father was a physician and made a healthy income to support the family.
When Darwin was eight, his mother died. No one knows for certain what she died from, but it was likely a severe ulcer or stomach cancer. After she died, Darwin’s dad, Dr. Robert Darwin, devoted his life to medicine more than ever before. As a result, the two oldest siblings, Marianne and Caroline, ran the household.
As a young kid, Darwin was very interested in nature, animals, and science. Even though he did not know it, this was the start of a long journey that would, eventually, change the world. Dr. Robert Darwin, wanted his child to follow in his footsteps and become a doctor. As a result, Darwin started at Edinburgh Medical School in 1825. Despite his father’s opinion, Darwin dropped out in 1827, just two years after his start simply because he was not enjoying it.
After leaving medicine, in 1828, Darwin went to Cambridge University to study priesthood and earned a bachelor degree in 1831. After college, Darwin went back to his childhood interest of nature, animals, and biology. He quickly became friends with geologist Adam Sedgwick and botanist John Henslow. As Darwin was thinking about his future, a global sailing trip was being arranged on the HMS Beagle by the Royal Navy. The Beagle would go across the globe, but spend most of its time in the Galapagos Islands. The captain of the Beagle, Robert Fitzroy, asked Henslow to recommend a naturalist for the trip. After a lot of thought, Henslow recommended Darwin.
BreakthroughAfter finishing and being inspired by his trip on the Beagle, Darwin started writing a book titled “On The Origin of Species”. This book would explain Darwin’s idea of natural selection and his theory on how evolution worked. He used evidence he gathered on the Galapagos Islands to back up his points. He created his ideas by seeing different species of finch on the Galapagos. He saw that their beak shapes were different, they got their food from different places, and they captured their food differently. After some further research, he created the theory known as natural selection. Natural selection is the idea that animals only pass down the genes to their kids that will be helpful to their survival. After millions of years, there will be one animal with only beneficial genes.
Let’s take the polar bear for example. There was once bear with dark fur, but when that bear has kids and their genes mutate, the fur could turn white. Since the white fur helped the bear survive, they would pass on those helpful genes to their kids.
After long, hard years of writing his book, Darwin decided that he should wait to publish it. He made this decision because he wanted to make sure that he would not offend any religious people. In this time period, most people were religious and were opposed to different ideas. Darwin waited 20 years to publish his book, but the day he did, it changed the way people would look at evolution forever. The thing that drove Darwin was his wanting to understand evolution. Before him, the theories on evolution were much different.
They revolved mainly around religion and God. The theory was that God made a few species to begin with and then they mutated into what we have today. Darwin was slightly religious, but he did not believe this theory. He wanted to dig deeper into evolution and change the way the world looked at it. Darwin was an explorer, puzzle solver, and data gatherer all in one. Explorers, otherwise known as paradigm busters, change the way the world looks at something. Darwin came up with a paradigm, natural selection, that many people still believe today. Puzzle solvers take their discoveries one step at a time.
Darwin took very small steps in creating his paradigm, but he put out his research at one time. And lastly, a data gatherer is someone who goes out and gets their data by themselves. Darwin went on the Beagle and got a real-world look at what his theories were.The ImpactDarwin definitely changed how we think about evolution today.
His theories were the basis of many more to come. Any new study in evolution today could not have been done without Charles Darwin. Without his discoveries, we would be many years behind our studies in evolution today. Even though his discoveries may not be seen as big today, they were in his time and he set the floor for many more biologists in evolution to come. For example, Gregor Mendel built off of Darwin’s idea of natural selection six years after he published his book. Mendel looked deeper into natural selection and thought more about dominant and recessive genes. Since Darwin waited 20 years to publish his book, most people accepted it. Most religious people did not believe in his new ideas, however they were not mad because he did not put down their ideas, but simply put forth his own.
Part of the reason Darwin’s theories have stayed prominent for such a long time is because he changed the idea on evolution so much. There have been many scientists who have made discoveries that were not as ground-breaking. I have found that these scientists ideas get outdated quicker.
The reason Darwin made his discoveries is because he always questioned everything. Even if he believed in something, he would question it and was always open to new ideas. Without his ability to question, he would have not made it this far. I believe Charles Darwin could have made his discoveries without the people before him. As I said before, there were not many advanced studies in his time about evolution. Darwin could have made his discovery without any prior discoveries because his discovery was truly the base study of evolution. This is why Darwin was named the “Father of Evolution”.
Most people after Darwin probably could not have made their discoveries without him because Darwin created a base for scientists to work off of. Alfred Russel Wallace worked with Charles Darwin to further his ideas about natural selection. The two of them worked together and made new discoveries together. Darwin looked up to Wallace as a hero and friend. Overall, Charles Darwin has definitely made an impact on the world because he created a easy-to-understand idea about evolution that many people believe today.
Hero Story or Tragedy?After Darwin published his book and made his discoveries, I think his life improved. Not only did he become more well known for his studies and work, but he changed the world tremendously. Before his book, Darwin was discovering small things, but when he published his book he definitely got more attention and got credited for his work. Back in his time, the discovery he made was huge. As I said before, it was a base for many more biologists to come. Imagine knowing that you changed the field of biology forever.
That must have been a great feeling for Darwin to have.I think it was definitely great decision that Darwin put his new ideas out into the world. Before his discovery, the paradigm on evolution was mostly based on God and nobody really thought about evolution that much because they thought that God made everything evolve. Overall, I think Darwin’s life improved in the long term after his discovery because he knew he changed the world greatly. MoralAs I have spent that past few weeks learning about Charles Darwin’s life and theories, I have learned so much about life, evolution, and natural selection. I learned that you are the only one who knows what you love to do and what you want to do with your life. Darwin’s father was a doctor and wanted him to follow in the same footsteps. Darwin knew that being a doctor wasn’t for him, so he did not become one.
Before this biography, I didn’t even know what natural selection was. Though, through writing this biography, I learned about natural selection and Darwin’s other discoveries. I have learned so much from Charles Darwin’s life and have found that it has definitely impacted many people.