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Soon after graduating, in , Darwin was offered a position on board the HMS Beagle, a ship that was mapping the coast of South America on a two or three year voyage around the world.
He eagerly accepted the opportunity and spent the next five years on board the Beagle, taking copious notes and sending thousands of samples and specimens back to Henslow in England for safe- keeping.
When Darwin returned to England he found that Henslow and other geologists, zoologists, and botanists were fascinated by the specimens he had collected.
He spent the next ten years cataloging and describing the discoveries he had made on his journey. He wrote books on coral reefs and volcanic islands, various papers, and a journal of his voyage.
While working on these, he also started to think about a deeper, more important problem: the origin of species. He opened his first notebook on the topic in , more than twenty years before he would finally be confident enough of his new theory of "evolution by natural selection" to publish it.
In , Darwin married Emma Wedgwood, his cousin, and they moved in to a house in London where Darwin could focus on his work.
Unfortunately, his health started to fail mysteriously, so they moved to the country. They lived in a small village where Darwin could find peace and quiet.
After completing his work on the results of the Beagle voyage, still not ready to publish his thoughts on evolution, Darwin turned to what seemed at first like a small, insignificant problem: the classification of different kinds of barnacles.
Darwin soon became entangled in the enormous project of dissecting and describing all of the barnacles of the world for what eventually became a four- volume work.
Eight years later, in , he finally finished, and was able to turn back to the problem of evolution.
In , Alfred Russell Wallace sent Darwin a paper regarding the evolution of species. Wallace's theory was very similar to Darwin's.
Wallace's paper and a sketch of Darwin's theory were presented at the Linnean Society. Darwin decided to produce an "abstract" of a longer book on evolution that he was working on, so as not to let anyone else take credit for an idea he had been developing for more than twenty years.
It was an immediate sensation, selling out the first printing within a day. Debates over the meaning of the theory for the nature of humanity began, though Darwin himself remained above the fray in his self-imposed isolation at Down House.
His friends Joseph Hooker, the botanist, and especially Thomas Henry Huxley, the zoologist, defended his theory to the world while he continued to do research.
In the s, Darwin worked on three books. One was about variation under domestication, which he saw as being parallel to variation in the wild.
Another was about the evolution of humanity and the role of sexual selection. The final one regarded the expression of emotions. The book on humanity and sexual selection, The Descent of Man, was published in The Editors of Encyclopaedia Britannica Encyclopaedia Britannica's editors oversee subject areas in which they have extensive knowledge, whether from years of experience gained by working on that content or via study for an advanced degree See Article History.
Learn More in these related Britannica articles:. Some dialectical materialists incorporated Darwinian theories in a frontal attack on the Christian worldview.
Some Christians contended that this was a perversion of evolution, since certain Christian teachings on divine creation, such….
A genetic definition of life therefore would be a system capable of evolution by natural selection. See Darwinism. Charles Darwin recognized selection among various male suitors by females as instrumental in the evolution of sexual species, including birds and insects.
The extent to which consciousness and choice making are important in evolution remains a matter for debate. History at your fingertips.
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