Biography of Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882)

British naturalist born on February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury (Shropshire, in the West of England) and died at Down House on April 19, 1882. Emblematic figure of science and evolution, was the most controversial and important defender of the doctrines of natural selection.

Charles Robert Darwin. Naturalist.


They were his parents the doctor Robert Waring Darwin and Susan Wedgwood, last daughter of a craftsman, inventor and Potter named Josiah Wedgwood, creator of a pyrometer that bears his name. Charles's paternal grandfather was the physician and poet Erasmus Darwin, who produced several works in verse, including Zoonomia, or the laws of organic life (1794), which anticipated the idea of the transformation of species. For him, all the animals and plants had been formed from an "organic strand" on which he acted the environmental conditions, able to go to purchasing new parts and go progressively enhanced from generation to generation. Another uncle of the same name was physician, physiologist and philosopher. Darwin was, thus, a privileged wedge, belonging to the upper middle class, with what he had (like his other five brothers) secured their good situation from birth.

At age eight he attended for the first time primary school, in the Unitarian Chapel, whose community was member of his mother, and remained there for a year. In its early days as a student not highlighted in any of the areas of teaching, apart from natural history, as well as his passion for collecting objects from the most varied nature, which would gradually lead him to become a "systematic researcher of nature", according to his own words. It was more of a dreamer than a child prodigy.

In 1818 attended the College of Dr. Butler, in his hometown, where he remained until 1825 as internal, what would later regret, because I would have preferred to spend his youth years as a student in an establishment where more importance would be given to the natural sciences to the Humanities; However, in College (in direction clasico-humanista) provided a great pleasure the Odes of Horacio, who was always an admirer. Apart from this, and his fondness for the substances, plants and animals, he not excelled in any materials is studying in the College, in whose courtyard, in the company of his brother, built, that Yes, a House that was his "laboratory", where performed two experiments until the wee hours of the night. He was born in him the desire by chemical experimentation, what motivated college classmates to appoint him with the nickname of "Gas".

Given that his father did not see the usefulness of the permanence of Charles in the school, and the same doctor Butler, director, described as it "carefree", his father decided to remove it from the Center to make it enter in the University of Edinburgh, where his brother Erasmus, studying medicine; was already since some time ago and where his father enrolled Charles so that he follow the same career. He was then seventeen years old, and admission to the University did not have difficulties, since at that time no admission tests were made.

Medicine not enthusiastic about him; you bored lectures on anatomy and surgery practices aterraban you (were carried out without anesthesia), for what grew in him a feeling of apathy to which joined the fact that his father was rich, which is what prompted him to dedicate themselves to the disciplines that more you indulged, and neglect the rest. The only subject that indeed seemed interesting was chemistry, given by Charles Hope (1766-1844), a follower of Lavoisier and Danton, who taught his theories for over forty years. Relations which established Darwin in Edinburgh were preferably with lovers of the natural sciences, as the Professor of comparative anatomy from the University of London Robert Edmund Grant (1793-1874), who headed him in the study of marine zoology and which became companion of trips of study and collection of specimens, which then desiccated. Grant worked in their classes the issue of the transformation of species, something that had great influence in the then young Darwin, who spent later one of his works, in 1861, as a founder of the theory of evolution.

In short, your stay at the University of Edinburgh did not contribute to their training rather than by the knowledge that there had several characters, among which were counted natural history researchers, chemical, ornithologists and zoologists, who significantly influenced in what would become his life's work. It must be noted that during your stay in Edinburgh he continued increasing its collection of specimens of natural history, sea shells at that time, while turning a blind of what was the formal study of medicine. For the University Darwin were much more important tours in summer, where experienced, he observed and collected, along with some companions who shared his interests, than boring lectures at the medical faculty. At this stage of his life their occupations were preferably hunting, their collections of specimens of insects and shells, their trips with friends to the field and frequent dealing with people with shared affinities in one of the mentioned fields. Never was a medical student, has never been a school applied, nor had a facility for languages, and although she was strongly interested in Euclidean geometry, did not thoroughly study mathematics, something regretted later.

His professor of natural history, Robert Jamenson (1774-1854), had founded for its students the local Plinian society in 1823, which met in the basement of the University; Darwin joined her, actively participating in the natural history excursions, and before she read the first scientific conferences. One of these revealed that what was thought as the Bryozoan flustra eggs were indeed ciliated larvae, and that juvenile phases of purported alga Fucus loreus belonged to a see me or hirudíneo Pontobdella muricata, attacking blankets; merit which granted Grant in one of its publications.

Darwin regularly attended also the Royal Medical Society, which was a member, although not paying much attention to being exclusively medical conferences. It also heard lectures in the Royal Society of Edinburgh's famous personalities, such as which ornithologist Jean Jacques Audubon (1785-1851). At that time paid a man of color to teach to dissect birds. With the help and under the guidance of William MacGillivray (1796-1852), curator of the Museum of Natural history and ornithologist, became strongly interested in zoology, and with it rehearsed taxidermy and conducted small research. It was around this time when interested by the book Natural Theology or evidences of the Existence and Atributes of the Deity collected from the Appareances of Nature, of theological orientation, which was published in 1802 by the theologian William Paley (1743-1805), who defended the idea of a single act of creation, in opposition to the theories of evolutionary timeJean Baptiste Lamarckand Darwin's grandfather, Erasmus.

During his stay in Edinburgh, on his days off, frequently visiting his maternal uncle Josiah Wedgwood, who became his ideal model and Advisor. Life in Maer, where he resided, was stimulating and active; There, among other activities, it spoke about the sciences. With Josiah, he made two trips in 1827, to Ireland and Paris.

Robert, the father of Darwin, dominant and authoritarian figure, he realized that his son Charles would not be doctor, so he decided to be clerics, without it tastes or the will of the person concerned. Therefore, in 1828, Darwin entered at Christ´s College in Cambridge, where he remained until may de1831. There he began the career of theology, without abandoning his love for hunting or for their collections and naturalistic research; before, the quiet life of a priest lent itself admirably to hobbies of this kind, therefore not displeased him at first; and although he had never worried Christianity, soon, after reading several theological works, was given account that do not cost any work accept the biblical tenets. In addition, it had occasion to reread the cited work of Paley on natural theology, which are recognized that the structure and adaptation to the environment of organisms are evidence of divine wisdom.

William Darwin Fox, his cousin, initiated him into the study of Entomology. This rural cura was a scholar of natural sciences confeccionaría, years later, the index of the works of Darwin on the variation of animals and plants under domestication, and was his friend until the death of this (1880). At Cambridge he also cultivated a friendship that would be significant in all his work and his life: that of clergyman and botanist John Stevens Henslow, who instilled in Darwin taste by geology. He also met at that school to other notable geologists, as well as various advocates of natural theology. At that time, then, the man who with his theories would give a jolt to traditional Christianity was studying Christian theology, although it was alternating his studies with the hunting parties, collections, scientific gatherings in Henslow House and other often-frivolous occupations. Under the tutelage of this, who was now the most important in his life after his father figure, was devoted to the study of geology and the natural sciences, participated in short expeditions to the British Isles, to know their geological conditions, and applied in reading books on research, especially those from Humboldt, trips who, with his journey to the equinoctial of new mainland regionsmade over five years of travels through South America, he made invaluable contributions to physics, geography, mineralogy, and geology, and woke up in Darwin a thirst for knowledge and the resolution of travelling abroad for research purposes. Another book that greatly influenced him was the introduction to the study of Natural philosophy of John Frederick William Herschel. Under the influence of these readings, he decided to plan an expedition to the Canary Islands.

During his last year at Cambridge, Professor Henslow introduced him to the doctor and geologist Adam Sedgwick, invited you home and in whose company performed in 1831 a trip of three weeks on the North of Wales, to study rock formations and get a map of the region. Later, Sedgwick would be one of the biggest opponents of evolutionary theory.

During his last year at Cambridge, Darwin's main interest focused on geology. On April 26, 1831, at the age of 22, he received the degree of Bachelor in arts, equivalent to the Bachelor's degree in philosophy and letters, with tenth place among students, a good position in the standings.

Around the world (1831-1836)

When he returned from his excursion by the country of Wales, in the company of Adam Sedgwick, found in his parent's House a letter from his mentor Henslow, which informed him of a vacancy for a naturalist on a fact-finding trip whose expenses were borne by the British Government. Apart from this would not receive stipend, having even to pay her maintenance at the rate of 30 pounds per year. His mission was to the join the captain of the ship Beagle, the hydrographer and meteorologist Robert Fitz Roy, and conduct geological and naturalistic studies that would pick up in a travel diary (see voyage of the Beagle).

Despite the objections of his father, and with the intercession of his uncle Josiah, he could accept and go to London in the company of Henslow to meet with Fitz Roy. Thus, Darwin, mediocre school, student of medicine without vocation, project unfinished clergyman and naturalist unpaid, met, thanks to the mediation of his teacher and counselor Henslow, at the gates of a journey that would change the course of his life forever, and that would bring humanity one of the most revolutionary theories in the field of natural sciencesas well as a review of religious principles relating to the creation of the world.

Darwin stayed two months in Plymouth, in the company of Captain Fitz Roy, before the departure of the Beagle. During this time, the rough temperament of the captain, the almost miserable conditions of the port and the certainty that would be three years (which would become five) away from his family and what was wanted, produced you an acute depression, which took him more afternoon, to qualify these two months as the "worst period of his life".

Finally, on December 27, 1831, after two attempts failed to take to the sea because of bad weather, the H.M.S. Beagle set sail from Plymouth bound for the coast of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego, to complete a study initiated between 1826-1830, lift planes of the coasts of Peru, Chile and some islands of the Pacific and perform a series of timing observations. It was also intended to develop maps and charts more accurate, the same that collect data for geological, botanical and zoological, all motivated by political and economic interests of the English Crown. In addition, was back to his land several natives of Patagonia, to "civilize them" had been brought to England in their previous trip by Captain Fitz Roy. Collections Darwin had collected so far, including those of beetles (very appreciated by this), remained in Cambridge to the care of his teacher and friend Henslow. The father of the theory of evolution was twenty-three years old; shortly before had written to Captain Fitz Roy, in relation to the journey: "my life will begin with him for the second time, and will be for the rest of my life as a day of birthday".

The beginning of the trip was for the naturalist of the Beagle ordeal, because seasickness made him frequently interrupt their work of observation and study, having to be routed back long time until they are relieved somewhat upset. He was always in good harmony with the crew, who respected him, since the cabin he shared with the captain, giving him some standing among the sailors; and with Fitz Roy was given a cordial relationship, with the exception of a hard discussion that arose between them in Brazil on the occasion of slavery, which the captain was defender and that Darwin was attacking with all his soul.

The Beagle on its journey touched many parts of the world, such as the Azores, Cape Verde, island of San Fernando, Brazil, Argentina, Uruguay, Chile, Peru, the archipelago of the Galapagos, Tahiti, New Zealand, the Australian continent and many other islands of the Pacific Ocean, returning by the same route. During the voyage, Darwin carried out detailed descriptions of the flora and fauna of each region visited, and gathered collections of different specimens that was, many of which were to stop English scientific institutions, as well as performing experiments with living beings to study its nature (in fact, was one of the forerunners of the biogeography, which in turn encauzaría subsequent studies on the evolution). He also did geological studies, branch which became a remarkable self-taught. Their paleontological exploration discovered numerous fossils, such as sea shells, plants and large mammals, which were sent to England and that later served to sustain his evolutionary theories.

During their stay at the Tierra del Fuego, Darwin, monarchical fervent, understood reigning equality among the natives would delay your income in civilization. He noted in his diary: "it seems impossible that the political status of the Tierra del Fuego can be improved, while not emerge a leader with enough clout to ensure that acquired possessions. Currently, if someone has a fabric, breaking it into pieces and each one takes his part. No one can be richer than another. It's hard having a boss while the tribe lacks the sense of ownership". Threw his theory on the monarchical superiority over any other mode of Government: "The Otaheiti people, ruled by hereditary Kings, was much more civilized than of New Zealand siblings, whose Government could consider Republican".

During his stay in Argentina, he met the general Rosas, future ruler of the country, sent by the Government to the area of Patagonia to enforce peace, understanding by this extermination of the indomitable Indians, which, on the other hand, lived peacefully in their environment. Struggles between political factions in South America and the situation of the indigenous peoples of regions clarified you the ideas on monarchy and Republic, civilization and barbarism, equality and inequality, etc.

On his return to England, the Beagle anchored in the port of Farmouth on 2 October 1836. Darwin, leaving their collections in Cambridge in the custody of his friend Henslow, approached his house in Shrewsbury, where he began a period of agitation and chats endless with family, friends and onlookers that had him traveling constantly between his hometown, Maer, Cambridge and London for three months for it. On December 13 he decided to put an end to this dispersion, moving to Cambridge and focus on sum up their experiences, as well as to begin your written work. There he spent three months examining his collection of rocks with the help of the Professor of Mineralogy William H. Miller (1809-1881), and start giving your travel diary with the overview of their scientific findings, what not found it difficult, since its notes were thorough and orderly.

In March 1837 he moved to London, where he ended his diary of the trip and began the development of its geological observations. He was appointed member of the Royal Society, institution in which read several of his works made during and after their journey, such as those that deal with the formation of humus by earthworms (1837), earthquakes (1838) and the erratic blocks of South America (1841). During this year he managed to obtain from the Government a grant of thousand pounds for the preparation and publication of the Zoology of the Beagle voyage, which was released in five volumes between 1839 and 1843. The newspaper, which was a great success, so much that his publisher John Murray saw it, apart its scientific value, one of the best books about travel and adventure written to date was published in 1839 and bought the rights of editing; He made a second in 1845 with the title of journal of research on the natural history and geology of the regions visited during the voyage of the Beagle around the world under the command of Captain Fitz Roy, containing various corrections and amendments and was a new bestseller, followed different translations and editions in other parts of the world, with the title of naturalists around the world trip. In this work, Darwin, apart from the results of his scientific research, describes other aspects of the regions visited, such as the social, political situation, landscapes and natural resources, which became one of the pioneers of modern ecology.

In January 1839, Darwin married his cousin, Emma Wedgwood, who never interfered in his work; they had a satisfactory relationship which were ten children, among them the best-known botanist Francis, biographer of his father and sir Leonard, one of the biggest advocates of eugenics. His wife was only disagreeing with him by religious issues, since it was a traditional believer, by which occasionally asked her husband reconsider their point of view on the biblical account of creation, which was in contradiction with evolutionary theories, unless therefore it weakened the effort to research this.

During the year of 1841 health Darwin resented, finds it painful assistance to scientific competitions and numerous social activities of the city; However, at this time completed his manuscript on the corals, which was published in December, 1842 with the name of "The Structure and Distribution of Coral Reefs", first volume of the geology of the journey, supplemented by their studies "Geological Observations on Volcanic Islands" (1844), refers to phenomena of volcanic activity in the Galapagos Islands, Cape Verde and Tahiti. Also wrote "Geological Observations on South America", which deals with the mechanisms of lifting of the Andes and the formation of the plains in South America, works that had great prominence among scientific thinkers of the time.

Down House

To worsen his health, in 1842, three years after his marriage, he decided to moved with his family to the field; they chose to live the village of Down, close to Beckenham in Kent County, about 25 miles from London, in the company of his two sons older William Erasmus and Anna. There passed the remaining 40 years of its existence, at Down House, old and large House, gardens, fields, forests, a greenhouse, and, then, a tennis court. He was away from the road and surrounded by hills, and therein Darwin developed the land for a small orchard, as well as a greenhouse where experimenting with varieties of plants, as well as a breeding of poultry, with identical end. Despite his precarious health is delivered fully to its scientific task, helped by his fortune and his untiring tenacity.

Life wearing Down House (now a museum Darwin) was an enviable quiet, nuanced with frequent meetings attended by notable scientists who contributed in a decisive manner in the development of his work. At this time he visited London every two or three weeks, visits that was spacing as it became more sedentary, until finally rarely came out to visit their relatives in Shrewsbury or Maer, or spend short periods by the sea or in some seaside resort of medicinal waters for cures that occasionally improved it. At home he spent time reading, writing, studying their birds and their beehives, dissecting animals, getting their friends and other breeders of birds or experimenting in his greenhouse. He contributed with the local church, he was Treasurer of the Club of the coal and textiles, supervisor of accounts of the National School of the Church of England, and justice of the peace, the position where he had to resolve small disputes between neighbors and occasional riots that altering the peace of the small community. Always maintained cordial relations with their children, not by imposing their points of view, but supporting them and giving them freedom to choose, respecting the development of his personality.

Was gradually establishing a routine that remained unchanged throughout his life: got up before 7 o'clock in the morning; ate breakfast after a stroll in the garden, was going to his office to work up to mediated overnight, time in that visiting your greenhouse, to control some experiment in course, passing magazine to the facilities of its birds and rabbits and returned to the Studio, where it remained until the time of the lunch. Taken, and then a short rest, it was a short walk and returned to work to answer correspondence and mature ideas. Its library grew steadily and, although he had difficulty writing, its assimilation capacity of reading, synthesis and outlining of ideas and theories was surprising. In the evening met with his wife Emma and their children, to enjoy the evening listening to music, reading, or distracting yourself with some parlor game; If not receiving any visit of his friends, he was going to bed at ten-thirty in the evening. Also at Down House, Darwin husbands had to endure the pain by the death of three of his children, and the father of Emma and Charles.

From the age of thirty years, Darwin suffered poor health. Almost since the return from her trip began to show both psychic and physical symptoms of diseases that were not exactly localized or diagnosed properly. He suffered from severe astigmatism, problems of the nervous system, the digestive system, skin rashes, dizziness and vomiting that forced him to interrupt his work after two or three hours. Some researchers point to the hypothesis of suffering from Chagas disease, transmitted by the vinchuca, insect of the tropics, some of whose specimens collected in South America Darwin and which retained on board the Beagle, experimenting with them on his own person. It could also be attacked by some kind of parasite during their trip (tropical diseases were not very explored terrain in his time).

Darwin wanted to get to his death as his father, with their powers in full lucidity, and eventually got it. Judged as a man who did not have great speed of understanding or inventive as his friend Huxley, and a bad critic (which was not true), because it cost much effort to follow the abstract issues. In the same way he claimed to have a regular share of common sense and reason, as a doctor or lawyer more or less fortunate, although it was actually superior to the common man, since he realized things that escaped the attention of most. It was laborious and lover of the natural sciences, something that had earned him the estimate of fellow naturalists, and very willing to abandon or modify the working hypothesis that is demonstrated were wrong, without being too skeptical, because in their view this feature affected the progress of science. Also offered defined themselves as of methodical habits, patience unlimited to reflect on any matter and very laborious to observe and collect data with reasonable portion inventive and common sense.

His State of health has improved significantly in the last years of his life, to his great satisfaction and family, being able to work more continuously, as his son Francis. On April 15, 1882, while he dined, he suffered dizziness and lost consciousness. "I am not afraid to die", he said when he had recovered. Four days later, on Wednesday April 19, at four in the afternoon, he would be one of the most important men of the natural sciences of all time. His family had wanted to bury him at their rural possession of Down, but prevailed the will of a considerable number of members of the English Parliament. The funeral, celebrated the 25th, had large numbers of personalities, among which were the friends of Darwin, Huxley, Hooker, and Wallace. He was buried in Westminster Abbey, next to Isaac Newton.

Its relationship with other scientists of the time

In the development of his work significantly influenced several researchers with whom maintained contact in meetings convened at his home in Down or by correspondence. They include his former Professor John Stevens Henslow and sir Charles Lyell.

Henslow was a botanical and Anglican priest who met at Cambridge and who was one of his mentors in the beginning of his studies of Botany and Zoology, his friend throughout his life that gave Darwin Lyell's principles of geology, whose first volume led to the voyage of the Beagle.

The own Lyell was an eminent geologist who encouraged Darwin to continue his work on evolution, but does not share his ideas completely. Lyell partially accepted the theory of evolution, but not included in this process to the man. Darwin said that his books were half of the Lyell and she saw his eyes; I thought that geological science owed to him more than any other researcher. As Lyell, he opposed the theory of geological formations by cataclysm successive, and Henslow had recommended Darwin that read the principles of geology of the one, but without accepting the criteria there exposed. However, Darwin considered it very useful and the best of all the texts to analyze the geology of the island of Santiago in Cape Verde.

Darwin related, in addition, a number of geologists and naturalists distinguished, including William Buckland, Professor of Mineralogy at Oxford, clergyman and supporter of natural theology; Roderick Impey Murchison, scholar of the geology of European Russia and the Urals and who should be the main divisions of the Paleozoic (Silurian, Devonian and Permian); the botanical and morfologer Robert Brown, who at that time (1831) had described for the first time the core of the plant cell and had discovered the movement of the microscopic particles in a liquid or gas (known as "Brownian motion"); Richard Owen, author of excellent works on comparative anatomy and who, after the publication of the origin of species, become implacable enemy of Darwin; and paleontologist and botanist Hugh Falconer (1808-1865), a friend of Darwin which partially accepted its evolutionary criteria.

In addition to these, its evolutionary ideas you should mention to the botanist Joseph Dalton Hooker, who was one of the best friends of Darwin and one of the first to accept and defend with heat. He and Lyell presented studies of Alfred Wallace and Darwin in the Linnean Society, in 1858, to prove the primacy of the latter. She made a trip with Robert MacCornick as naturalists to the southern hemisphere and Antarctica. Studies carried out in respect of this trip served them to advance the hypothesis that southern floras seemed to arise from a primitive Antarctic flora. It also made other trips, one of them more than three years in the Himalayan region. He clinched the Darwinian theory with a series of studies on the geographical distribution of living beings, which provided valuable Darwin information; Similarly, he sent him to your greenhouse plants, read his botanical works and made favorable reviews of some of them.

Thomas Henry Huxley was also among the first advocates of Darwinism. It was the major breadwinner of evolution in England, and did a splendid job as a zoologist. Amused to Darwin the way in which Huxley attacked opponents of evolution of the species, as Richard Owen, Louis Agassiz and the Bishop of Oxford, Samuel Wilberforce; attacks that Charles considered deserved. As an assistant surgeon, made a trip to Australia, where he conducted important zoological studies. He published several works upon vertebrates and invertebrates marine and fossil; as well as works of science education, philosophy and ethics. Very young, with twenty-five years, he was elected member of the Royal Society, and met Darwin through Hooker.

The American botanist Asa Gray was another of the great friends of Darwin and the main diffuser ideas darwinists in the United States. Both met at the House of William Hooker in 1851, and subsequently maintained constant correspondence. Since 1857, Darwin notified his idea of writing a book about evolution. Man of profound religious ideas, tried to reconcile science with religion, so that is not desacreditase the ideas of Darwin and not argue with religious tactic that somehow carried out also Huxley; However, unlike this, Gray did not agree that natural selection had originated the man, but it was God who supplied nature variations which were beneficial, design certainly not Darwin shared.

The major participants in the circle of Darwin was also sir John Lubbock, important scholar of prehistory, comparative psychology and the behavior of social insects. He defended the idea of the existence of the ice age in England. He met and was disciple of Darwin when it moved to Down, relatively near the Lubbock House.

Also Darwin tried to the philosopher and sociologist Herbert Spencer, who read his works and admired their outstanding skills, but he said not find profit in them for their scientific arguments, because Spencer criteria are best applied to philosophy than the laws of nature.

Darwin also met several historians, literati and people distinguished or curious, that speaks in his autobiography.


During the second half of his life, living in the field, it was methodical work and crystallized the almost all of his work, using his studies of natural sciences, his readings on the topic, often dealing with his naturalist friends, their collections and neat observations made during his voyage on the Beagle. In addition, he received copious correspondence in the form of books and magazines, and was abreast of the latest research and discoveries.

In 1839, the year of his marriage, he published voyage of naturalists around the world, result of his annotations during the voyage of the Beagle. In 1844 were published his geological observations on the volcanic islands, with brief notes on the geology of Australia and the Cape of good hope, which was the second part of the geology of the journey of the Beagle, whose first volume dealt with "Coral reefs", published in 1842. The second edition of the "reef" was held in 1874 and the observations in 1876. In these works Darwin invested four years of relentless work, which were well received and sold well, becoming a classic topic. The enthusiasm of Lyell to read Darwin's theory on coral reefs by sinking of continents and Islands was such that requested that it was read by Darwin in the geological society, even though Lyell had to abandon his based on the volcanic crater.

One of the first works which took place at his rural residence was the description and classification of the thousands of specimens of barnacles (limpets, barnacles, or marine crustaceans) collected during their trip, tedious and stressful work that consumed him eight years. In this regard wrote: "hate barnacles than a sailor aboard a ship during a calma chicha". Apart from this, teaching you removed from your task, as the comparative anatomy and observation of the occasional arbitrariness in the distribution according to the species, knowledge very important when writing their production Summit, the origin of species is undeniable. The results of this work were published in two volumes (1851 and 1854) with the title the class Cirripedia monograph by the Ray society in London.

The origin of species (1859)

From 1854 he devoted much of his time to make remarks and recounting their experiences in relation to the transformation of species, at the time that elaborated the great work of his life, although I previously had written four books (1837-1838) and an essay overview on the subject (1844), which had given to meet some friends, including Charles Lyell. In 1856, Lyell advised him to write such views in more detail, what Darwin agreed immediately, on a scale three or four times larger than expected so far. However, the huge volume of data accumulated made long and difficult task, to the extent that Darwin was forced to work without ceasing. The newspaper carried on its journey aboard the Beagle was basic, because he had notes on zoology, botany and geology, as also notes States, differences and development of species in different media and geographical situations. However, it used also all the bibliography which had at its disposal to make his famous work.

But, when it was about half done, received in 1858 a letter and the work of the English naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace "on the tendency of varieties to depart indefinitely from the original type", where, to the surprise of Darwin, appeared the same criteria of his on the evolution of the species. This fact was an intense ethical debate, faced with the choice of cede primacy on the issue, which had been working for over twenty years, and at the same time not to assume an attitude that seems unfair to Wallace to Darwin. Wallace had read the diary of trip from Darwin and also knew this at the British Museum in 1853, shortly before setting sail towards the Malay Archipelago. On October 10, 1856, Wallace wrote, attaching him work his published a year before. It was "On the law which has regulated the introduction of new species", where defended the idea that each species had emerged in a space and a time coincident with other close species related. Darwin replied on 1 may 1857 thanking you. He acknowledged that the reasoning of both was largely similar and they had come to similar conclusions; It also notified him that 20 years ago he had begun his first notebook on the question of how and in what way the species differed each other. He was now preparing your work for publication, but the theme was so broad that it meant it would not lead to the printer until two years later.

Article submitted by Wallace in 1858 was intended that Darwin sent in turn to Lyell, which caused the ethical, already mentioned, the second conflict. He consulted the matter with Lyell and Hooker, who asked to Darwin that he drafted a summary of his voluminous work presented at the Linnean Society to publish it together with the article by Wallace and a letter from Darwin to Asa Gray, much older, which spoke to him of his ideas on the subject of origin of species by natural selection. They added an introduction explaining the affair.

The overall conclusions were the same, with the only difference that Darwin had come to the idea of natural selection on the basis of domestic animals; While Wallace had departed their biogeographic studies and direct observations of nature. Their extensive knowledge of biogeography developed in his work the geographical distribution of animals (1876). Although it continued to maintain relationship with Darwin and supported him in his studies on natural selection, he did not share their criteria when it applied them to the origin of man.

After 23 years of maturation of their theories, on November 24, 1859 was published for the first time the origin of species (On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection or the preservationof Favoured Races in the Struggle for life). The impact was enormous. Despite being a book of scientific content, 1,250 copies of the first edition were sold out on the day of its publication; two months later launched another edition of 3,000 volumes, which sold out in a few days. During the life of its author, six editions were made and sold 27,000 copies, only in British editions, not counting several translations to other languages or American editions. For something this work has been called "the book that shook the world".

Darwin thrust in its advance on the path of evolution was not braking for the publication and the success achieved by the origin of the species; It was rather increased. Despite his poor health, he continued in his works on the theory that had absorbed her life.

The origin of man (1871)

The other work of Darwin was the descent of man and selection in relation to sex, which appeared in 1871, although the English naturalist had collected data on the subject since 1837 or 1838, if you have long intended to publish it, because of the reaction that was expected by the religious orthodoxy of his time. However, indirectly said in his origin of species that this work could shed light on the origin of man. Indeed, departed from the same issues that developed in that one, namely: natural selection, the struggle for existence, and the use and disuse of organs and inheritance, which he called correlative. He said the animal origin of man from a previous mammal in the evolutionary scale, which would explain their embryonic development, the existence of non-functional rudimentary anatomical structures and the homology of the bodies of the man and other mammals, especially the anthropomorphic monkeys. Accordingly pointed out, in addition to the brain, the organs of the senses, hair, parasites, their lack of defenses against some diseases and the lack of tail, without losing it all, with a rudimentary embryo (end of the spinal column), and the footprint in the human ears of the pointed ears of man's ancestors.

In this work he insisted in sexual selection (including secondary sex characteristics) and the formation of the psychological qualities of the man from the gradual evolution from lower animals. In the development of these mental faculties included abstract concepts, consciousness and language. Darwin predicted that the ancestors of the man were found in Africa, and so far the oldest representatives of hominids (the medic.alflypatbeses) come from that continent. He also denied in various parts of his book that the man was the product of creation.

The first 2,500 copies went on sale in February, and before the end of the year were printed 5,000 more. The origin of man began the study of the human being as a natural phenomenon.

The botanical work of Darwin

Darwin lived delivered completely to his scientific work, and can say that his life went, after getting married, between his books and their relatives and, when his health allowed, doing various experiences with plants and animals in your greenhouse, gardens and lands. But at first had a more active social life, as they were running the years and that worsened his health, relationships confined to certain family members and visits on various occasions to spas, where was subjected to hidropaticos treatment which, apparently, improved his ailing health. Visits from family and friends supplementing their limited social aspirations, and extensive correspondence was supplying scientific needs and, of course, also of affects.

When it was less healthy was dedicated to observing and experimenting with plants. This type of activity, in addition to grata, not exhausting him. When he felt more strongly he wrote about them; Thus did produce some significant botanical work, by the new information provided concerning such experiences. Thus, in 1862 he published fertilisation of orchids by insects, a booklet that cost him ten months of work and a myriad of articles on the topic of fertilization in plants which triggered in other authors. Six years later appeared his variation of plants and animals under domestication, which emphasized natural and sexual selection, and whose final chapter was devoted to the pangenesis, a proposal for a hereditary mechanism based on particle or gemulas that circulate in the blood and deposited in the reproductive cells which was rejected.

The issue of variation under domesticity agencies was an idea that already Haunted you head from 1837, and began to crystallize in 1860, although his poor health only allowed him to work two and a half hours a day, at most. Although the crowd there were those who complained have expected much to just get their hands another Treaty on rabbits, pigeons and silkworms, others on the other hand saw in the book the enrichment of one of the chapters of the origin of species, as it was. Book 1,500 copies were sold in a week run of the first edition, which had to follow a second in two weeks. Success got him surprised, as it was in the usual, although he confessed: "has made me an enormous asset because it had come to devise a kind of hatred by the book".

For Darwin, passionate about hunting, was fascinating behavior of insectivorous plant: drosera. Observed it for the first time in the home of his sister-in-law in 1860, and since then, with some parenthesis, was an obsession for him, stating on one occasion that worried more that subject "as the source of all the world's species". He made experiments, providing plant insects and observing their digestion system, coming to marvel at him that a plant might have more sensitivity to the touch than any nerve in the body.

On July 2, 1875, it was released insectivorous plants, with a circulation of 3,000, fifteen years after his first encounter with drosera, his "beloved" insectivorous plant. His son, the botanist Francis Darwin, also studied this plant, performing with his father experiments with the insectivorous; Since that time, it was his collaborator in this branch. The effects of crossbreeding and selfing was published in 1876 in the plant Kingdom; This work was an attempt to clear up the mysteries of the origin of sexuality, and at the same time was a complement to his previous publication on orchids. His son Francis considered it one of the most important works by his father, and one of the most difficult to read for people little versed in the natural sciences. In this same year began work on his autobiography.

In 1877 his work the different forms of flowers was given to the public on plants of the same species, which was a compendium of articles on the topic, already previously published in some scientific journals of the time, supplemented with new observations. Three years later, on 6 November 1880, together with the Second Edition, published the power of movement in plants. This work was born of his observation of the vines, the study of sleep in plants, such as decontaminator of radiation, the root movements and the adaptation of the Middle movements. Work 1,500 copies were sold in a short time.

A year before his death, on 10 October 1881, published a work which had made many years before, the formation of the compost plant through the action of worms, where, in opposition to the majority of naturalists who believed harmful to them, Darwin emphasized the beneficial of these worms role by removing the Earth, allowing its oxygenation as well as the formation of organic matterusable to plants. The work was also a spectacular time for triumph, as 8,500 copies, surpassing the sales of the origin of species relatively were sold in three years. This book has the historical significance of being the first ecological study of the role of this animal in the wild.

The works of Darwin about emotions, habits and instincts

Human behavior and the behavior of the animals were pillars that Darwin was forced to explain in his evolutionary theory of natural selection and the struggle for existence. The issue had already caught the attention of the naturalist during his voyage on the Beagle, which describes the habits of different animals from South America and the Galapagos Archipelago. In the same way that animals, dealt with in the man. Habits, instincts and expressions in both are, therefore, detailed in several of his works that proposed show with numerous examples that those demonstrations had a gradual evolution from common ancestors, and were the product of natural selection and other biological processes, and not successive acts predestined or creative.

One of these works was the biographical sketch of a child, constituted with the notes began to write from the birth of their first child, in 1839, looking at expressions showing, already spontaneously, already to certain stimuli. But was not published until many years later, in 1877, in the journal of psychology and philosophy of Mind, under the impetus given by the appearance in such a magazine another on the development of the language of H. A. Taine. Darwin referred to the mode that presents manifestations of human behavior in children: fear, pleasure, anger, affection, Association of ideas, moral sense, shame, ways of communicating, etc.; some of them compared with the different animals.

Essay on instinct was written as a chapter of the origin of species, but it was very large, so Darwin used only a part, which refers mostly to social insects; the rest remained unpublished, until George J. Romanes included it as an appendix in a book of his in 1883, already dead Darwin. In his essay, Darwin passes magazine, with a good number of examples, to domestic poultry, animal instincts, insects, beavers and other creatures, by addressing issues such as migration, nesting, construction of dwellings, parasitism and other relationships between them, as associations.

Book the expression of the emotions in animals and in man (1872) was also intended to demonstrate the subtle matters of expression had a gradual and natural origin (chord, is clear, with natural selection) rather than being predestined. It had been conceived by Darwin as a chapter for the origin of man, but, as it happened often, the theme was extended too, becoming a volume separate. Fruit of observations in babies (among them his son, as already mentioned), in animals, mentally ill and surveys conducted with people from different countries, the book explores how expressions of pain, joy, sadness, anger, jealousy, love, curiosity, shame, AWE, and many others, may be innate and inherited in some cases, and determined by the social environment in others; and are they acquired so unconsciously or consciously, these gestures in animals and man to be an important means of communication. The book also had a good sale for sold 5.267 a total of 7,000 copies released to the trade.

Other works

In February 1879, on the occasion of the birthday of Darwin, evolutionary Kosmos published, among other items, a biographical profile of the author of the origin of species and a list of his books; everything went the Austrian Professor Preyer pen. Another collaborator, Dr. Ernst Krause, the magazine included an essay on the scientific work of Erasmus Darwin, article that Charles himself considered his best birthday gift; He wrote to Krause thanking him and asking permission to publish an English translation of the essay.

His cousin Reginald sent him, in addition, a series of notes, papers and books from the grandfather, and reading it was moved so much that he wrote: "is how to put in contact with the dead". The translation of the trial of Krause, with an introduction by Darwin that occupied more than half of the book, was published in the autumn of 1879, as a tribute to his grandfather with the title the life of Erasmus Darwin.

Darwin was the initiator of a true revolution in the history of thought. At age 27 he had already gathered a wealth of scientific information greater than that many scientists have been able to collect in a lifetime dedicated to research. The totality of his work spanned 117 books and over 150 articles.

You honors and rewards

During the last stage of his life, Darwin had to endure attacks on his work, most of them for religious reasons. A cartoon featuring a being with body of APE and human head with the face of Darwin, ridiculing his theory of the ties that bind the human species on primates, was published in 1871 and later turned over to the world, even in our days to appear on the label of the bottle of some alcoholic beverages.

As a counterpart, the honors occurred until his death. In 1864, he received the second highest academic distinction in England, the Royal Society's Copley Medal. In 1874 he was appointed an honorary member of the Zoological Society of Argentina and the following year also gave that charge the National Academy of Sciences. In 1877 received the distinction Doctor Honoris Causa by the University of Cambridge. Equally, he was nominated to be a member of the Board of Trustees of the British Museum, but declined the honour for health reasons. In that same year he received the title of Honorary Professor at the free institution of education of Spain. He also received awards from the Imperial Academy of Sciences of Russia, the Imperial University of Kazan, and others in Moscow, as well as the title of Doctor Honoris Causa of the Faculty of law in England.

For more information, see theory of Darwin on the origin and evolution of species.


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DARWIN, ch. autobiography and selected letters. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1997.

DENNET, D. C. Darwin's dangerous idea. Barcelona, Gutenberg Galaxy, 1999.

HEMLEBEN, J. Darwin. Madrid, Alianza Editorial, 1980.

PUIG-SAMPER, M. A. Darwinism and anthropology in 19th century. Madrid, Ediciones Akal, S. A., 1992.