on february 12 1809, a little boy named charles robert darwin was born in shrewsbury, england. he was to become one of the greatest naturalists and scientists in history.
in his book “on the origin of species by means of natural selection”, published in 1859, he expressed his theory of evolution1, which would provide a scientific and logical explanation for the diversity of life on earth.
today is his 200th birthday, and the 150 year anniversary of that famous book that revolutionized the entire field of biology.
i’d like to take the opportunity to include a few quotes from the book:
it is a truly wonderful fact that all animals and all plants throughout all time and space should be related to each other in group subordinate to group, namely varieties of the same species most closely related together, (…) species of distinct genera much less closely related, and genera related in different degrees, forming sub-families, families, orders, sub-classes and classes.
(…) and as modern geology has almost banished such views as the excavation of a great valley by a single diluvial wave, so will natural selection, if it be a true principle, banish the belief of the continued creation of new organic beings, or of any great and sudden modification in their structure.
nevertheless so profound is our ignorance, and so high our presumption, that we marvel when we hear of the extinction of an organic being; and as we do not see the cause, we invoke cataclysms to desolate the world, or invent laws on the duration of the forms of life!
light will be thrown on the origin of man and his history.
it is amazing to see that 150 years later, almost every aspect of his theory is still considered to be coherent.
- he was in contact with alfred russel wallace, who at the same time came to the same conclusions, and they made a joint publication 1 year earlier. this part is far too often left out. [↩]