Darwin's Legacy Essay

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Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury on February 12, 1809. His father and grandfather, being admired and respected doctors, Charles grew up in a well-educated and freethinking family. At the age of eight, his mother died, leaving Charles and his five siblings with their stern and often overbearing father. A short time later, he was sent to boarding school in Shrewsbury to study Greek and Latin. Outside of class Charles collected beetles and conducted his own chemistry experiments, earning him the nickname “Gas” around school. Growing bored and indifferent towards his language studies, Charles’ motivation began to slip. His father, seeing his son’s mediocre academic scores, pulled him out of school and hired him as an assistant in his …show more content…
Jumping at the chance, Charles set sail on the Beagle with a phrenologist named FitzRoy, to complete a survey of South America’s coast. During his travels, Charles read a work called “The Principles of Geology” by British geologist Charles Lyell. In the book, Lyell challenged the religious ideas of earth’s formation and proposed uniformitarianism instead. Lyell believed that land was formed through the physical process of sedimentation, erupting volcanoes, and erosion (Berra 14). This theory struck a chord with Charles and a short while later he would begin to develop his own theories that went against the religious grain. In September of 1832, just south of Buenos Aires, Charles noticed bones embedded within the stones of a rocky cliff and went to work on extracting them. He had discovered a fossilized jawbone and tooth of a Megatherium, or Giant Sloth (Berra 18). The discovery of this fossil started his interest in extinction and often fueled arguments between himself and FitzRoy, a religious man, who said that extinction was quite simply the “door of the Ark being made too small” (Berra 19). Two years later, Charles would discover marine deposits that contained pieces of Petrified Forest. He concluded that the area must have once been under the sea and throughout time, uplifted some 7000 feet. His curiosity about the earth’s formation, evolution, and extinction was once again heightened.
Throughout his studies and journeys around the world,…