The young Englishman Charles Darwin came from a family of wealth. Both his grandfather and father were successful physicians.
He was supposed to follow in their footsteps, but the first time he saw surgery being performed, he had to leave the room.
At 22, he received a theological degree but soon announced he had no intention of becoming a minister. He had another offer.
He was to be the naturalist for the HMS Beagle as it sailed around the world for five years surveying coastlines. His findings would be the most important in the history of biology, and they would create a religious debate that still goes on today.
Charles Robert Darwin was born in 1809 in Shrewsbury, England.
His interest in biology was partly due to his famous grandfather, Erasmus Darwin, who was a well-known naturalist as well as a physician.
Darwin’s duty on board the Beagle was to collect plants, rocks, insects, animals, and fossils and ship them back home for future study.
The young Darwin was having the adventure of a lifetime and was fascinated by the strange forms of plant and animal life he found.
The most fascinating stop was the Galapagos Islands off the western shores of South America. Here he saw in the animal life clear evidence that species had undergone slight changes to adapt to the differing environments of the islands.
This was the beginning of his theory of evolution, a theory much of the world was not ready for.
Darwin’s theory of evolution made him a famous, and controversial, figure.