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Charles Darwin is best known for his work as a naturalist, developing a theory of evolution to explain biological change. Naturalist Charles Robert Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, in the tiny merchant town of Shrewsbury, England. He was the second youngest of six children. Darwin came from a long line of scientists.
His father,Dr. Erasmus Darwin, was a renowned botanist. Darwin’s mother, Susanna, died when he was only 8 years old. Darwin was a child of wealth and privilege who loved to explore nature.
In October 1825, at age 16, Darwin enrolled at Edinburgh University. His father suggested he study to become a parson instead, but Darwin was far more inclined to study natural history.
On December 27, 1831, the HMS Beagle launched its voyage around the world with Darwin in tow. Over the course of the trip, Darwin collected a variety of natural specimens, including birds, plants and fossils. Through hands-on research and experimentation, he had the unique opportunity to closely observe principles of botany, geology and zoology.
Upon his return to England in 1836, Darwin began to write up his findings in the Journal of Researches, published as part of Captain FitzRoy's larger narrative and later edited into the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle. The trip had a monumental affect on Darwin’s view of natural history. He began to develop a revolutionary theory about the origin of living beings that was contrary to the popular view of other naturalists at the time.
In 1858, after years of further scientific investigation, Darwin publically introduced his revolutionary theory of evolution in a letter read at a meeting of the Linnean Society.
Death and Legacy 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.
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