Today we will learn about Charles Darwin, a naturalist, a geologist, and a biologist in our Charles Darwin facts’ article.
He was the one who changed the way we look at evolution by his theory of evolution which he called ‘natural selection’.
Let’s go a little deeper into the life of ‘Father of evolution’ and learn new things about his life, career, his research today.
He was born on 12 February 1809 in Shrewsbury town, England.
He was the second youngest (or fourth child) of the six children. He was born into a wealthy family.
Dr. R.W. Darwin, Charles Darwin’s father, was a doctor himself. His grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin was a botanist.
Unfortunately, Darwin’s mother died when he was just 8 years old.
He studied in Shrewsbury school as a boarder. Later in 1825, he joined the University of Edinburgh with Erasmus, his brother.
Two years later when he turned 18 years, he became a student at Cambridge’s Christ’s College.
His father wanted him to either follow his footsteps and become a doctor or to be a parson.
However, Darwin had his own plans. He felt uneasy when he saw blood and he was not interested to be a parson.
He was deeply interested in studying natural history.
John Stevens Henslow, a botany professor at Christ’s College, was his mentor.
In 1831, Charles Darwin graduated the college with a Bachelor of Arts degree.
It was Henslow who told about the position of a naturalist on HMS Beagle.
The ship was commanded by Captain Robert FitzRoy. The ship was to travel for a survey trip around the world for five years.
HMS Beagle started its voyage on 27 December 1831 with Darwin aboard.
Darwin started collecting specimens such as birds, fossils, plants, etc.
Always an admirer of practice over theory, he had an extraordinary opportunity to understand the principles of botany, zoology, and geology practically instead of just reading from the books.
Darwin was furthermore interested in Pacific islands, South America, and Galapagos Archipelago.
He finally returned to England in the year 1836 after completing five years of survey travel on HMS Beagle.
The moment he reached England, he started writing his findings in the Journal of Researches.
It was published as a part of a larger narrative of Captain Robert FitzRoy. It was edited into the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle.
After the trip, he suffered from various health issues such as eczema, headaches, heart palpitations, bouts of nausea, exhaustion, etc.
Some suspect that Darwin contracted Chagas disease while he was on HMS Beagle that led to cardiac damage and eventually killed him.
On 29 January 1839, he married his cousin Emma Wedgwood.
One of the funniest Charles Darwin facts is that when he went to propose Emma for marriage, he ended up explaining transmutation to her!
He gave birth to 10 children out of which only 7 survived. The death of his 10-year-old daughter, Anne Elizabeth, shocked him to the core.
He was scared of his kids contracting some illness because of inbreeding as he married his cousin, Emma.
This trip heavily affected Darwin’s perception of natural history. It was at this time that he started writing about a theory on origin of living beings which was to change the world’s view on evolution.
He called the process ‘natural selection’. As per this process, the animals or plants or any living beings who adapt to changes in the environment will survive and reproduce and the ones which can’t adapt simply perish.
He observed the similarities in a lot of species around the world with specific changes that were done to get adapted to specific locations.
This observation led him to believe that species evolved from a common ancestor.
This theory and process were eventually called Darwinism.
He challenged other naturalists of his time. Most of the naturalists of his time either believed that species were produced right at the start of the world or they were created over the history’s course.
The other naturalists never even thought of something like evolution. They thought that the species once produced remained the same without any changes.
It was in 1858 that Darwin introduced his theory of evolution in a letter that was read at a meeting of Linnean Society.
He published ‘On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection’ on 24 November 1859. This proved to be his best-known work.
This created a furor among naturalists, people who believe in Creationism, etc.
However, scientific studies on DNA backed Darwin’s theory of the origin of species.
There are a few groups of people who still don’t count or value Darwin’s theory to this date.
There was a new concept that emerged called ‘Social Darwinism’. This concept developed in late 1800s.
This concept simply extrapolates the theory of the origin of species from living organisms to human society to explain the socio-economic issues of society.
Charles Darwin rarely spoke anything about this newly formed theory but he did borrow concepts such as ‘survival of fittest’ of a popular sociologist Herbert Spencer to explain his own theory.
Charles Darwin breathed his last in Down House, his family home, on 19 April 1882. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.
General Facts about Charles Darwin
Charles Darwin and Abraham Lincoln both shared the same birth date.
It took Charles Darwin over 20 years to publish his most famous work on evolution. He ended his voyage in 1836 and he published his work in 1859.
One of the interesting Charles Darwin facts is that before marrying Emma, he prepared two columns with headings ‘Marry’ and ‘Not Marry’.
He was weighing the pros and cons of marriage. Under ‘Marry’, he noted things such as lifelong companion, better than a dog anyhow, a friend in the old age, etc.
Under ‘Not Marry”, he noted terrible loss of time, conversation with clever men, freedom to go anywhere, etc.
He eventually thought of going for marriage and he married Emma in 1839.
He was a drop out of medical school.
It is interesting to note that after the debacle of medical school, he was enrolled in Cambridge to study theology. His father thought that one day he would be a parson.
However, after several years, he challenged the very religious concept of creationism that was taught in theology.
He even declared that he believed whatever was taught in theology. His faith started decreasing when he saw slavery, the death of his own children, etc.
He declared that he was agnostic but he never said that he was an atheist.
He created a club called Gourmet Club or Glutton Club when he was in Cambridge. From Cambridge to his voyage, his dining on exotic breeds and species didn’t change at all.
He included a famous phrase ‘survival of the fittest’ in his fifth edition of Origin of Species book. It was published in 1869.
One of the least known Charles Darwin facts is that he wrote on sexual selection as well.
Richard Brum, a Yale ornithologist, revived it back in his Evolution of Beauty after a century.
Darwin’s family members thought of burying him in his village where he spent the majority of his life.
Charles Darwin (along with HMS Beagle, a magnifying lens, fauna, and flora observed in the voyage) appears on the back of the 10-pound note of Britain since 2000.
Did you know that the word ‘evolution’ doesn’t come in the picture till the sixth edition of his book ‘The Origin of Species’?
Darwin’s friend Alfred Russel Wallace had similar views on evolution. When Wallace shared a manuscript to Darwin in 1858, Darwin was shocked to see the similarity.
It was then that he published his work before Wallace could publish.
Other famous works of Charles Darwin are: ‘The Descent of Man, and Selection in Relation to Sex’, ‘The Expression of Emotions in Man and Animals’, ‘The Formation of Vegetable Mould Through the Action of Worms’, etc.
There are claims that he fell in love when he was in college. However, the relationship didn’t last as he didn’t give enough attention to his ladylove.
Did you know that there are more than 250 species that share their name with Darwin?
We came to the end of our article on Charles Darwin Facts. We bet there were many cool facts that you didn’t know about him! If you want to share more facts or if you think there is a mistake in any of our facts, feel free to drop a comment below.