7 Things You Didnt Know About Charles Darwin

first_imgTomorrow marks the 202nd anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth. The scientist, best known for introducing the concept of natural selection in his 1859 book, On the Origin of Species, led a fairly interesting life outside of his scientific work, as well. After the jump, check out some fascinating facts about the scientist you thought you knew.Born the Same Day as LincolnDon’t use up wall of your birthday wishes on the father of evolution. Both Darwin and Lincoln were born on Feb. 12, 1809, 4,000 miles apartSeasicknessDarwin spent much of the Beagle’s journey suffering from seasickness. For many of the first few weeks of the voyage, he lived only on raisins, because he couldn’t keep anything else downOne of the Galapagos Tortoise Species Only Has One Remaining MembersThis is Lonesome George, the last Pinta Island Tortoise on earth. He lives, fittingly, at the Charles Darwin Research Station on Pinta Island. Attempts are being made to get him to breed with members of other Galapagos tortoise subspecies, in order to continue his bloodline. Thus far, the effort have been fruitless. There is, however, a standing $10,000 reward, if you manage to locate a female of the species.Darwin’s Captain Was a Fierce Oponent of the Theory of EvolutionVice-Admiral Robert Fitzroy might have piloted Darwin around on the HMS Beagle, but the captain didn’t care one bit for the theory of evolution. During an 1860 debate on the validity of Darwin’s theory, the fiercely religious Fitzroy held up a bible and asked the crowd, “to believe God rather than man”. He must have had some fondness for Darwin, however–after all, the captain named the highest peak in Tierra del Fuego “Mount Darwin,” in honor of the scientist’s 25th birthday.Darwin and the Crew of the Beagle Ate TortoiseThe Galapagos tortoises played a pivotal role in the formation of Darwin’s theory, as he began to notice variations in shells from island to island. Darwin noted that he could “pronounce with certainty from which island it has been brought.” What’s largely forgotten, however, is the fact that the crew actually dined on the giant reptiles, with each providing a tremendous amount of meat. The crew hauled 48 of the animals for eating.Married His Cousin Yep, Darwin’s wife, Emma Wedgwood, was also his first cousin. The scientist opted to marry her after compiling a list of pros and cons. Pros included “better than a dog” and cons included “less money for books.” Darwin and Wedgwood had 10 children in all (three of which became distinguished scientists), and her piano playing helped inspire sections of Darwin’s The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex.Darwin’s Half-Cousin Pioneered EugenicsIn 1871’s The Descent of Man Darwin suggested that helping the sick could negate some of the effects of natural selection, though he ultimately added that the instinct toward sympathy was important–Darwin, after all, was sick for much of his life. This, along with Origin of the Species, played a role in helping Darwin’s half-cousin, Francis Galton to begin his initial research into the highly controversial field he would later call eugenics after Darwin’s death.last_img