November 24, is celebrated as Evolution Day, and commemorates the anniversary of the first publication in 1859 of Charles Darwin’s masterwork On the Origin of Species. In 1837 when Darwin was only 28 years old he penned the famous line “one species does change into another” a tantalizing glimpse into what would evolve into his culturally explosive theory.
Darwin had just returned from a five-year journey aboard the HMS Beagle, sailing around the world as the expedition’s naturalist. During a brief stop in the Galapagos Islands off the Pacific Coast of South America, Darwin had observed that certain plant and animal species appeared not to be permanently fixed, as had always been assumed when taking a literal interpretation of the Bible’s first chapter Genesis.
As Darwin continued to study his finches, beetles and tortoises over the next several decades he became increasingly convinced that his theory was true and also truly revolutionary. First presenting his ideas to a small audience of scientist and finally in 1859 publishing On the Origin of Species at the age of 50.
On the Origin of Species
Ranking as one of the most important books ever published, On the Origin of Species with its logical thought, stands above other scientific works and today is recognized not only as a work of science but as a magnificent work of literature.
Darwin would be the last to say his theory was absolute or static, in fact, writing in the Origin “In the distant future I see open fields for far more important researches.”
“Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution”
In an article from 2009 in the Smithsonian Magazine, author Thomas Hayden said. “Since then, even the most unanticipated discoveries in the life sciences have supported or extended Darwin’s central ideas—all life is related, species change over time in response to natural selection, and new forms replace those that came before.
“Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution,” the pioneering geneticist Theodosius Dobzhansky titled a famous essay in 1973. He could not have been more right—evolution is quite simply the way biology works, the central organizing principle of life on earth.”
Evolutionary Theory Has Evolved
Of course, over the last 158 years since 1859, evolutionary theory has, evolved. “Since Darwin published Origin, those ‘important researches’ have produced results he could never have anticipated. Three fields in particular—geology, genetics and paleoanthropology—illustrate both the gaps in Darwin’s own knowledge and the power of his ideas to make sense of what came after him.” Read more to understand What Darwin Didn’t Know!
By Robert Frerck, Blue Ocean Network
See These Related Blue Ocean Articles:
How To Get More Ocean-Hearted Intel Delivered To Your Inbox!
We believe ocean lovers can change the world. If you care about the health of the ocean and want to do something about it, then connect with the Blue Ocean tribe: Our growing community of ocean change-makers is turning ocean lovers into ocean leaders. It starts with you. Join us!