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Charles Darwin (1809-1882) was an an English naturalist whose theory of evolution is one of the greatest contributions ever made to science. Darwin stated this theory in his book The Origin ofSpecies (1859). In another book called The Descent of Man (1871 ) he applied his theory to the evolution of man from a primitive monkey-like animal. Both books aroused world-wide controversy. Manyconsidered them to be offensive, atheistic, blasphemous and Darwin's caricatures were published in magazines. Although later research has modified or disproved some of Darwin's findings, scientists stillaccept his basic ideas.

Darwin was born in Shrewsbury and his father was a physician. As a youth Darwin was interested in all living things. He read all the books on geology and biology he could findand collected plant and animal specimens, including fossils. In 1825 he began medical studies at the University of Edinburgh but gave them up after two years. In 1828 he entered Cambridge Universityto study theology getting a degree in 1831. He eventually obtained a post as unpaid naturalist aboard the surveying ship H.M.S. Beagle.
In 1831 the Beagle left on a five-year voyage to SouthAmerican and Australian waters. During this time Darwin observed and studied in many remote regions of the world. He collected great numbers of plant and animal specimens. From detailed notes of hisobservations he began to develop the theory that was to make him famous. When he returned to England Darwin began studying and investigating nature. In 1844 Darwin began to compile his greatestcontribution, Origin of Species, in which he proposed his theory of natural selection. All life, he said, is a continuous struggle in which only the fittest can survive. In this period Darwin discovered thatthe idea of natural selection was not exclusively his. Alfred Russel Wallace ( 1823-1913 ), a young naturalist, had developed similar ideas in an essay called "On the Tendency of Varieties to Depart...
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