Charles Darwin and His Legacy

“From so simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have been, and are being evolved.” – Ending words of the Origin of Species. 

the-origin-of-speciesCharles Darwin–my favorite great naturalist who has shaped the view of the natural word through his awe inspiring book The Origin of Species–has described himself as a ‘very naughty boy’ during his young days in his autobiography, released after his death. He had a big family, with six brothers and sisters and was stuck in the middle of it, being the fourth child in the family. Darwin’s hobby involved collecting things and getting into them, which frustrates his father and his older sisters who were in charge of looking after him.

Childhood aside, he described the path of his career to be very confusing. His father wanted him to continue the family business and become a physician. He obeyed, describing that the practice was extremely boring. He found it dull. Later he mentioned that becoming a physician was completely useless for his future as a naturalist. After two years in Edinburgh university, he stopped the physician degree under the agreement of his father. He them was set on the path to be a clergymen, which he dropped soon after.

His journey started after he went around several places, trying to decide his path for the rest of his life when he received a letter–an offer–to board as a naturalist on the voyage on the Beagle. This is the ship where he was able to travel to certain areas in the world that opened him to the idea of evolution and his theory of natural selection.

“That all are descended from the common rock pigeon. (Columbia Livia)…” – Charles Darwin on describing about the evolution of pigeons in the Origin of Species.

After his voyage, Charles Dawin dived into the world of biology. The voyage on the Beagle had arisen a lot of questions about evolution, origin and variation and Darwin spent many years working on his theory. He conducted many experiments which would later appear in his world famous book. This included the testing to see if a seed dropped out of a bird’s digestive system would still germinate (to test his idea about geological distribution) and breeding birds (to test his idea about natural selection and evolution).

In fact, Charles Darwin actually spent eight years researching on barnacles! He was also extremely fascinated with earthworms and their role with human agriculture. He even published a book about it a few months before his death. Strangely, it sold out better in its early stages then the Origin of Species in its early stages.) I’d really love to echo on his thoughts about earthworms but unfortunately it would take another story to tell.

the autobiography of charles darwinCharles Darwin placed every single minute detail in his book, ranging from his own thoughts to the things that other people will speculate about this theory. His ideas talked about variation between wildlife. In my understanding, a species is a group of organisms of similar individuals which are able to breed with each other. A species can contain variation, which is a different or distinct with each other. Sometimes a variation in a species might be believed to be a new kind of species which causes the confusion.

Darwin also reserved an entire chapter to his thoughts about hybrids. Let me elongate here. A hybrid is formed when two different species mate with each other, forming a completely different species which is most of the time, fertile. A male donkey and a female horse creates a mule. A male lion and a female tiger creates a liger. In my honest opinion, the naming of hybrids seems to be completely grabbed off in a poor attempt to mix the names of the father and mother. Male jaguar and a lioness? Oh wait, the baby is called a jaglion.  There are currently two jaglions living Bear Creek Sanctuary. One of them is melanistic, and they are completely beautiful.

Charles Darwin’s book On the Origin of Species is full of comparisons too. He spent chapters comparing a hybrid and a mongrel; and the difference between an instinct and a habit. But putting hybrids, instincts, and geological distributions aside, my most favorite chapter of the book was Charles Darwin’s conclusion about Natural Selection.

At that time, people had depended on Lamark’s theory of Inheritance of Acquired Characteristics which Darwin described as close to his. although Lamark had missed the complete truth (and the fact that the idea was approved by the church). Now, everyone bases everything from Charles Darwin’s theory of Natural Selection. In Richard Dawkin’s book The Greatest Show on Earth, he talked about insects being the first natural selectors, basing on the idea on Darwin’s book. In Simon Barnes’s book Ten Million Aliens, Barnes has dedicated his introduction to Darwin and his world famous book.

His theory reached a peak when the book was published. Everybody was enraged at Charles Darwin’s theory, including the church. The public went even more crazy and Charles Darwin published another book which involved the evolution of man through apes. There was also a book set at Charles Darwin’s time which remarked about the public’s surprise, The Tree of Lies by Christopher S. Hyatt.

Charles Darwin’s book still raged arguments all through the world with people debating on evolution, 150 years after his death in 1882. Richard Dawkins jokingly remarked in his book The Greatest Show on Earth that Charles Darwin himself would raise an eyebrow at the amount of fuss everyone is making. His ideas will live on, and will continue shape the world of biology.


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