the article below about Charles Darwin. Set yourself 10 minutes.
He is most famous for a book he published in 1859. What do you
know about him, or what led him to the theory he states in the
book? Read on the find out.
Darwin is best known for his book On the Origin of Species
by Means of Natural Selection, published in 1859. This
challenged how people thought life was created and the age of
the earth. His theory of evolution is still the accepted theory
of the development of species.
had intended to become a doctor; unfortunately he could not
cope with the sight of blood, so instead went to Cambridge University
to study Divinity, aiming for a career in the church. While
he was at Cambridge he became interested in natural history,
spending his free time searching for and collecting beetles.
Around this time he discovered an expedition on the ship the
Beagle was looking for a naturalist. Darwin got the position
and they sailed on 27th December 1831.
took Lyell's Principles of Geology to read on the trip.
This book contradicted the accepted belief that the earth was
created in 4004BC, as is described in Genesis. Lyell suggested
that fossils found in rocks were evidence of animals having
lived millions of years ago. He said the world hadn't been shaped
by great catastrophes like floods but by the processes we see
active today: wind, erosion, volcanoes, earthquakes, etc. Lyell
offered not just a new geology but also a new philosophy of
science. Slow gradual cumulative change over a long period of
time could produce great effects.
became convinced of Lyell's theory as he saw a wide variety
of animals and geological features during the expedition. He
became convinced of the evolutionary theory when he reached
the Galapagos Islands, ten volcanic lumps 500 miles west of
South America. The islands are home to Darwin's finches, a group
of birds, which exemplified a gradual process, which became
known as the 'survival of the fittest'.
the birds were all finches, their beak size varied greatly.
Today 14 different species have been identified. When he returned
to England in 1836 Darwin tried to uncover the reason for this
variation. He realised that the birds had not chosen to grow
beaks of different sizes, and he rejected the idea that God
had created the birds there to match the nuts found on the island.
He thought the changes were entirely random.
decided that some birds would be accidentally born with bigger
beaks than others, on the island there were also some nuts which
were big and hard. When food became scarce the birds with bigger
beaks were able to get more food and so would grow bigger and
stronger. These bigger beaked birds would then be able to live
longer and have more offspring. This would be repeated in the
next generation and so it was the 'survival of the fittest'.
So the birds would evolve with big or small beaks depending
on the food available in their environment.
implication was that as long as there was a limited food supply,
heredity and a variation among the offspring there would be
evolution. Darwin worked on this theory for the next twenty
years, culminating in the publication of his book in 1859. The
book created a lot of criticism because the logical extension
was that Homo sapiens were not a special species and
had probably evolved from the same common ancestor as apes.
It also contradicted the commonly held belief at the time that
God had created the world in seven days. Religious organisations
were severely critical of his theory, which they claimed to
be heretical. There are still some areas, especially within
the United States' Bible belt region where Darwin's theory is
not fully accepted or taught in schools.
continued to publish papers and research his theory for the
rest of his life. He died in 1882.
Re-read the article and answer the following questions.
1. How old was Charles Darwin when the Beagle set sail?
2. Which geologist influenced Darwin?
3. What was No.2's philosophy of science?
4. Which animal helped Darwin begin his theory of evolution?
5. Where did he find this animal?
6. How many species of this animal (genus) have been identified
7. What three factors did Darwin decide were needed for evolution?
8. What might we be evolved from?
9. What do you think of this theory?
10. What do think of the picture below?
is a crossword. The definitions describe the words you need
to put into the puzzle. Remember, one letter per square. The
words are taken from the article. You should use a dictionary
to help you check the correct word choice.
3. in short supply
6. Darwin's job on the Beagle expedition
8. disaster, usually natural
1. contrary to accepted beliefs
2. adding up and increasing
5. to manage/deal with something
7. a bird's 'lips', they helped Darwin work out his evolution
9. another word for children/progeny
22, 2. Charles Lyell, 3. gradual cumulative change over a long
period of time, 4. finch, 5. Galapagos island, 6. 14, 7. limited
food supply, heredity & variation among offspring, 8. apes,
1. heretical, 2. culminating, 3. scarce, 4. evolution, 5. cope,
6. naturalist, 7. beak, 8. catastrophe, 9. offspring, 10. gradual
(R) thedailystar.net 2005