Charles Robert Darwin,(12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist.He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors,and proposed the scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection.
Darwin was born on Feb. 12, 1809, at Shrewsbury, the fifth child of Robert and Susannah Darwin. His mother, who was the daughter of the famous potter Josiah Wedgwood, died when Charles was 8, and he was reared by his sisters...
Darwin himself initially planned to follow a medical career, and studied at Edinburgh University but later switched to divinity at Cambridge. In 1831, he joined a five year scientific expedition on the survey ship HMS Beagle
Darwin was a conventional Christian for much of his life. He studied at the University of Cambridge to become an Anglican clergyman, just prior to the Beagle voyage. Later in life, he described himself as agnostic, not atheist.
The Beagle undertook a five year cruise around the world, beginning December 27, 1831 and ending October 2, 1836. During the course of the voyage, Darwin noticed how species changed along the coast of South America, and especially on the Galápagos Islands. Upon returning to England, he published his observations in A Naturalist's Voyage on the Beagle (1839). Darwin, reflecting on his observation, developed a theory of evolution.
How, Darwin asked himself, had life first come to these islands? “The natural history of these islands,” he later pointed out, “is eminently curious, and well deserves attention. Most of the organic productions are aboriginal creations, found nowhere else.” Yet all of the creatures showed a marked relationship with those from the American continent.
The letters from the Beagle convey the pleasure Charles experienced when geologizing: "There is nothing like geology; the pleasure of the first days partridge shooting or first days hunting cannot be compared to finding a fine group of fossil bones, which tell their story of former times with almost a living tongue"
Darwin realised that evolution occurs by the process of natural selection. The ‘fittest’ animals or plants – those with the characteristics best suited to their environment – are more likely to survive and reproduce. They pass on these desirable characteristics to their offspring. Gradually those features become more common, causing the species to change over time. If the changes are great enough, they could produce a new species altogether.
On his return to England, Darwin immediately began to write up his findings in bits and pieces, earning an impressive reputation among the scientificcommunity. He waited to publish a theoretical explanation of his research until he could gather additional evidence and refine his ideas. Meanwhile, he lived a quiet country life, using his inherited wealth...
Following a lifetime of devout research, Charles Darwin died at his family home, Down House, in London, on April 19, 1882, and was buried at Westminster Abbey. During the next century, DNA studies revealed evidence of his theory of evolution, although controversy surrounding its conflict with Creationism—the religious view that all of nature was born of God—still abounds today.
Researchers from the University of Maryland School of Medicine said last year that they believed Charles Darwin suffered from three different illnesses, including a Chagas infection.