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Charles Darwin

Naturalist / Writer

Born: 12 February 1809
Died: 19 April 1882 (heart attack)
Birthplace: Shrewsbury, England
Best known as: The naturalist who came up with the theory of evolution
Charles Darwin's book The Origin of Species was a scientific bombshell in its day and remains a much-discussed work 150 years later. Darwin was the official naturalist aboard the British ship H.M.S. Beagle during its world voyage of 1831-36. His observations during the journey led him to develop a theory of evolution: the notion that species evolve as the fittest members survive and pass their traits on to future generations. Darwin announced his initial ideas of natural selection in 1858, and in 1859 he formally published The Origin of Species. The book was both popular and controversial: although Darwin was a religious man himself and once considered a career in the church, his theory of evolution was attacked by those who felt it was contrary to the teachings of the Bible. Today Darwin's theories are embraced by nearly all scientists and his theories are the starting point for the modern study of evolutionary biology, even as the religious arguments continue. Darwin published many other books and pamphlets on the topic in later years, most notably The Descent of Man (1871).
Extra credit: The full title and subtitle of Darwin's famous book was, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or, The Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life... Darwin was born on the same day as U.S. president Abraham Lincoln... Darwin was buried in Westminster Abbey, near the grave of Sir Isaac Newton.

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