PERHAPS no one has influenced our knowledge of life on Earth as much as the English naturalist Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882). His theory of evolution by naturalselection, now the unifying theory of the life sciences, explained where all of the astonishingly diverse kinds of living things came from and how they became exquisitely adapted to theirparticular environments. His theory reconciled a host of diverse kinds of evidence such as the progressive nature of fossil forms in the geological record, the geographical distribution ofspecies, recapitulative appearances in embryology, homologous structures, vestigial organs and nesting taxonomic relationships. No other explanation before or since has made sense ofthese facts.
In further works Darwin demonstrated that the difference between humans and other animals is one of degree not kind. In geology, zoology, taxonomy, botany, paleontology,philosophy, anthropology, psychology, literature and theology Darwin's writings produced profound reactions, many of which are still ongoing. Yet even without his evolutionary works,Darwin's accomplishments would be difficult to match.
Charles Darwin’s five-year voyage on H.M.S. Beagle has become legendary, as insights gained by the bright young scientist on his tripto exotic places greatly influenced his masterwork, the book On the Origin of Species.
The History of H.M.S. Beagle
H.M.S. Beagle is remembered today because of its association withCharles Darwin, but it had sailed on a lengthy scientific mission several years before Darwin came into the picture. The Beagle, a warship carrying ten cannons, sailed in 1826 toexplore the coastline of South America. The ship had an unfortunate episode when its captain sank into a depression, perhaps caused by the isolation of the voyage, and committed suicide.