The Autobiography of Charles Darwin
After returning from this trip, Darwin would be prompted by one of his peers to apply for a position aboard the HMS Beagle. He would function as the position of “Naturalist” during a long surveying expedition. Darwin’s voyage aboard the HMS Beagle would last from 1831 to 1836. These 5 years of exploration and discovery would become his inspiration for many later views and ideas. Among the most widely known is the theory of evolution by natural selection. Functioning in the capacity of the ships naturalist, Darwin’s job was to study the geographical features of unexplored coasts and ecosystems. He would collect an immense cache of specimens in his studies showing evidence of species evolution. His first theory was that the earth was only 6000 years old, and that the inhabitants were unchanged during this time of the planet’s development. This would later change as Darwin would realize that the earth was infinitely more aged than his first belief of a mere 6000 years. In South America, Darwin witnessed one of the marvels of nature. After a large earthquake the landscape was altered; the ground in certain places had risen by several feet. Later in the expedition of the Beagle, Darwin would have the opportunity to study the Galapagos Islands. He would find multiple species of animals and reptiles which were adaptations of similar species found in other parts of the world. These discoveries would bring about the realization that the earth was in constant geographical and ecological change. The inhabitants of Earth were also in a constant flux of adaptation geared towards the survival of the inevitable change of their environment. During his voyage on the Beagle, Darwin would encounter many more examples of the adaptation of various species for survival within the respective environments. Pondering these observations, Darwin would begin to question how and why life would adapt to meet the demands of the climate and ecology of the native land.
So, we can say that Darwin tried to see and to understand the world through the glasses of the time, when he lived and worked. Such a statement is very important for understanding Darwin.
The editor has provided page and line references to the more important restored passages, and previously unpublished notes and letters on family matters and on the controversy between Samuel Butler appear in an appendix.
Crook, Paul. “Darwin’s Origin of Species: A Biography.” The Australian Journal of Politics and History 53.1 (2007): 160+.
Darwin, Charles. The Origin of Species. Ed. Gillian Beer. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1996.
Dawrin, Charles, Zimmer, Carl, and Waal, Frans. The Decent of Man. New York: Plume, 2007.
Gelernter, David, Thomas Fleming, Michael Behe, and John O. Mcginnis. “The Descent of Man: Can Conservative Concepts Be Derived from Evolution? Critics Respond to John O. McGinnis.” National Review 9 Mar. 1998: 52+.