People Who Changed History –Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin, one of the greatest names in science, and a man who forever changed the way that we perceive ourselves and all other life on Earth. For most of human history, when trying to explain the history of the world, we’d mostly refer to religious texts that told us plainly that we were created by some supernatural being in our present state. Up until a point of course, Darwin was no different; he was as devout a Christian as anybody else.

But those beliefs began to crumble on his famous voyage in the Beagle. Darwin examined fossils of long dead ground sloths in South America that dispelled the myth that no kind of animal went extinct naturally. He observed the rheas- huge flightless birds that showed rather superficial variations in plumage and behaviour in accordance to where they lived. The most famous part of his voyage was his stop off on the Galapagos Islands, where he observed the incredible dozen or so species of Finch, each with a different bill suited to a different task.

It took Darwin a further twenty or so years before he gained enough confidence to publish his ideas, and that was only prompted by the news that his friend Alfred Russell Wallace had effectively stumbled upon the same ideas as Darwin whilst in the Asian jungle. The theory of evolution by natural selection suggested that species become extinct frequently, and it also provided almost unquestionable evidence that the Earth is billions of years old, and that every living thing was descended from a common ancestor. Perhaps, more shockingly for a Victorian society was the idea that man shared a common ancestry with Chimps, thus dispelling the myth that humanity was somehow cut above the rest of nature. Now we were just another kind of animal, an ape.


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