Every 12th of February is Darwin Day. It is a worldwide celebration of science held on the birth anniversary of Charles Darwin in 1809. Best known for his work as a naturalist, Darwin developed the theory of evolution to explain biological changes.
Charles Darwin, an Overview
Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England. He was the second youngest of six children. Darwin and his siblings were kids of wealth and privilege. On his paternal side, Darwin came from a long line of scientists. Dr. R.W Darwin, his father, was a medical professional. Dr. Erasmus Darwin, his grandfather, was a distinguished botanist. His mother, Susana, passed away when he was eight years old.
In 1825, at age 16, Darwin got accepted at Edinburgh University, along with his brother Erasmus. A couple of years after, he enrolled at Christ’s College in Cambridge. His father wanted him to be a medical doctor, too. However, the mere sight of blood made Darwin queasy. His father then advised him to be a parson. But Darwin was more inclined to delve into natural history.
In 1831, Charles Darwin started a five-year survey voyage across the globe on the HMS Beagle. His extensive studies and research on specimens guided him to develop his theories. After years and years of research, Darwin published On the Origin of Species in 1859. From then on, he was regarded as one of the best naturalists and biologists to ever live.
Darwin died on April 19, 1882, due to heart failure. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, near the burial site of fellow scientists, Isaac Newton and John Herschel.
Interesting Facts about Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln shared the same birthday. The English botanist and the American president were born on the 12th of February, 1809. It was the same day, but in entirely different settings.
The renowned naturalist was born in his family’s massive Georgian mansion in Shrewsbury. America’s 16th president, on the other hand, came into the world in a rustic cottage in the wilderness of Kentucky.
Darwin patiently waited for over two decades to publish his revolutionary work. His voyage across the world, which concluded in 1836, presented him with indispensable exploration that led to the progression of his theory of evolution and natural selection.
He dragged on the publication due to worry that the spiritual people and the general public won’t be able to acknowledge his radical work. He held on to his theory of evolution until 1858. At that time, he made a statement with another naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace, who planned to tell the world about a concept same as his.
Darwin made a list of the pros and cons of getting married. He exhibited a logical disposition even in the romantic aspect of his life. In 1838, Darwin made a list with two columns (Marry and Not Marry) on the merits and drawbacks of marital life.
In the pros column, he cited: children, constant companion until they’re old, and someone to look after the house. In the cons column, he listed: liberty to go anywhere, loss of time, and conversation with smart men at clubs. Eventually, the Marry column prevailed. Just a year after making a list, Darwin married Emma Wedgwood, his first cousin.
Darwin was once a divinity scholar. After leaving the University of Edinburgh, he went to Cambridge to take up theology. But his faith wavered when he encountered the harsh truths of slavery during his voyage. It continued to decline when three of his children died. Even so, Darwin in no way described himself as an atheist. Instead, he called himself an agnostic.
Charles Darwin had a taste for exotic animals. He didn’t just research about varieties from different parts of the world – he dined on them, too. When he was in Cambridge, he founded the Gourmet Club a.k.a. the Glutton Club. The group aimed to dine on the “birds and beasts, which were before unknown to the human palate.” To name a few, Darwin had eaten hawk, bittern, armadillo, puma, and ostrich meat.
Charles Darwin endured chronic illnesses after his five-year voyage. He started suffering from extreme fatigue, eczema, severe bouts of nausea and heart palpitations. Many medical professionals today speculated that Darwin could have caught a parasitic condition called Chagas disease. The ailment would ultimately lead to heart failure.
Darwin was supposed to be buried in the village where he spent the last four decades of his life. After his demise, his family began to prepare for his burial in town. But his friends and colleagues lobbied to have him buried at Westminster Abbey.
Following several publications and the general public joining the campaign, the Dean of Westminster authorized the plan. Darwin was laid to rest in England’s most revered church.
Want to learn more about this great man? Here 35 remarkable Charles Darwin quotes.
Remarkable Charles Darwin Quotes
“Man selects only for his own good: Nature only for that of the being which she tends.” – Charles Darwin
“Freedom of thought is best promoted by the gradual illumination of men’s minds which follows from the advance of science.” – Charles Darwin
“Great is the power of steady misrepresentation.” – Charles Darwin
“In the long history of humankind (and animal kind, too) those who learned to collaborate and improvise most effectively have prevailed.” – Charles Darwin
“It is not the strongest of the species that survives, not the most intelligent…It is the one that is the most adaptable to change.” – Charles Darwin
“We must, however, acknowledge, as it seems to me, that man with all his noble qualities… still bears in his bodily frame the indelible stamp of his lowly origin.” – Charles Darwin
“Intelligence is based on how efficient a species became at doing the things they need to survive.” – Charles Darwin
“Blushing is the most peculiar and most human of all expressions.” – Charles Darwin
“The mystery of the beginning of all things is insoluble by us; and I for one must be content to remain an agnostic.” – Charles Darwin
“We stopped looking for monsters under our bed when we realized that they were inside us.” – Charles Darwin