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Essay/Term paper: Charles darwin

Essay, term paper, research paper:  College Papers

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Like many modern students, Charles Darwin exceeded only in subjects that
intrigued him.

Although his father was a physician, Darwin was uninterested in medicine
and he was unable

to stand the sight of surgery. He did eventually obtain a degree in
theology from Cambridge

University, although theology too was of minor interest to him. What
Darwin really liked to

do was to tramp over hills, observing plants and animals, collecting new

scrutinizing their structures, and categorizing his findings.

In 1831, when Darwin was only 22 years old, the British government sent
Her Majesty^Òs Ship

Beagle on a 5 year expedition that would take them first along the
coastline of South

America and then onward around the world. As was common on such
expeditions, the Beagle

would carry along a naturalist to observe and collect geological and
biological specimens

encountered along the route. Thanks to the recommendation of one of
Darwin^Òs previous

college professors, he was offered the position of naturalist aboard the

The Beagle sailed to South America, making many stops along the coast.
Here Darwin

observed the plants and animals of the tropics and was stunned by the
diversity of species

compared with Europe.

Perhaps the most significant stopover of the voyage was the month spent in
the Galapagos

Islands off of the northwestern coast of South America. It was here that
Darwin found huge

populations of tortoises; and he found that different islands were home to

different types of tortoises. He then found that on islands without
tortoises, pricky pear

cactus plants grew with their juicy pads and fruits spread out over the
ground. And on

islands that had hourdes of tortoises, the prickly pears grew
substantially thick, tall

trunks, bearing the fleshy pads and fruits high above the reach of the
tough mouthed

tortoises. He then wondered if the differences in these organisms could
have arisen after

they became isolated from one another on seperate islands.

In 1836, Darwin returned to England after the 5 years with the expedition.
He became

established as one of the foremost naturalist of his time. But constantly
gnawing at his

mind was the problem of the origin of the species.

Darwin sought to prove his ideal of evolution with simple examples. The
various breeds of

dogs provided a striking example of what Darwin sought to prove. Dogs
descended from

wolves, and even today the two will readily cross-breed. With rare
exceptions, however,

few modern dogs actually resemble wolves. Some breeds, such as the
Chihuahua and the

Great Dane, are so different from one another that they would be
considered seperate

species in the wild. If humans could cross-breed such radically different
dogs in only a

few hundred years, Darwin reasoned that nature could produce the same
spectrum of living

organisms given the hundreds of millions of years that she had been

Darwin also maintained that seperate species evolve as a result of the
principles of

natural selection, or survival of the fittest. He knew that many more
members of a

species are born than can possibly survive. He also postulated that strong
positive genes

would be bred and rebred into each new generation of animals.

Darwin, contrary to popular belief, never said that human beings evolved
from apes. He

said that all life began as a primordial soup, with molecules acting on
each other. So

from the first single celled organism all life came. One single organism,
when acted on

by several different molecules could give rise to many different species
of animals. It

is in this way that he stated that Ape and man were similar..each having a
similar life^Òs


Darwin^Òs theories caused the people of the time to begin to question
where it was that

they actually came from. His response was the book On the Origin of
Species. In it he

addressed the concerns of the people. He said "It is interesting to
contemplate an

entangled bank, clothed with many plants of many kinds, with birds singing
in the bushes,

with various insects flitting about, and with worms crawling through the
damp earth, and

to reflect that these elaborately constructed forms....have all been
produced by laws

acting around us. These laws, taken in the highest sense, being Growth
with Reproduction;

Inheritance and Variability...; a Ratio of Increase so high as to lead to
a struggle for

life, and as a consequence to Natural Selection, entailing Divergence of
Character and

Extinction of less-improved forms....There is grandeur in this view of
life, with its

several powers, having been originally breathed into a few forms or into
one, and that,

whilst this planet has gone cycling on according to the fixded laws of
gravity, from so

simple a beginning endless forms most beautiful and most wonderful have
been, and are

being, evolved."


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