Charles Darwin remains one of the most important figures in modern Science and in the way we understand how the world works. He was credited as being the ‘father of evolutionary theory’, having written his tome, The Origin of Species, to demonstrate how we believed animals and plants evolved over great expanses of time. It is this book which led to widespread theory over how humans are descended from apes.
However, Darwin’s work has caused some debate over the years, particularly between atheists (non-religious believers) and creationists (those who believe solely in the power of God). However, there are millions of people who practice religion and who continue to believe in Darwin’s work.
Let’s look closely at his life and work. We’re going to dig up a few interesting facts about Charles Darwin which might surprise you…
Aged just 22, Charles Darwin set sail on HMS Beagle from Plymouth Sound on 27th December 1831, and returned 5 years later on 2 October 1836.
On this historic voyage he surveyed the coasts of South America, including the Galapagos Islands, South Africa and New Zealand.
Darwin wasn’t just a master in evolutionary theory, but also a bit of a dab hand at the game of backgammon. He would play the game frequently, often on a nightly basis, and eventually became something of a master at the pastime. It’s thought he played the game to distract himself from regular bouts of extreme illness.
Perhaps it was Darwin’s odd diet that was to blame for his bouts of sickness. It’s thought that, while he studied animals intensively, he also liked to eat them. In fact, he had a fantastic taste for exotic meats, even taking a chance on a rodent he didn’t even have the name for. He was also dedicated to consuming armadillo meat, which he likened to tasting like duck.
HMS Beagle in the Straits of Magellan
However, he was not a fan of eating owl, and not by means of conscious objection – he found the taste of brown owl meat ‘indescribable’ – as in, utterly disgusting.
Ironically for many creationists who oppose Darwin’s theories and work, he was actually a devout Christian for much of his life. It wasn’t until he lost two of his children that he decided to denounce organised religion, instead becoming agnostic – in that he believed that a deity existed but didn’t choose to follow any specific holy book or scripture.
Both Abraham Lincoln and Charles Darwin were born on the exact same day – February 12th, 1809. Both men were progressively forward-thinking, and wide readers of Shakespeare. There have been full books written on the remarkable similarities the two men share.
Darwin fathered ten children with his wife Emma – who was also his first cousin. Many of his children had health problems, with three of them passing away young.
The Origin of Species remains one of the most important and world-changing books ever published. However, Darwin very nearly didn’t go ahead with the publication. He knew that his findings and his theories may cause a little bit of a stir. In particular, he was afraid that his claims of humans descending from apes would not sit well with scholars and the general public. It took him 20 years to finally publish the book.
Darwin is fondly remembered by many, to the extent that he not only has his own international day, he was also depicted on British currency for over 15 years.
Darwin’s final resting place, fittingly, is next to Sir Isaac Newton, another revolutionary thinker.
You will also find that there are more than 250 different species of animal which are named after Charles Darwin in one way or another.
There is a phenomenon called the ‘Darwin Awards’ which has been running for decades. However, you should never hope to win one. These awards, which have been detailed in many different books over the years, describe the stupidest accidental deaths ever recorded. The name, of course, refers to Darwin’s concept of the survival of the fittest – and that those who die stupidly are effectively taking themselves ‘out of the gene pool’!
Darwin took to the seas to voyage around the world for five years. It was during this time that he got a taste for the exotic, leading him to create his ‘Glutton Club’, where he and other members would strive to eat strange meat from all over the world.
Do you have any interesting or fun facts about Charles Darwin that we’ve missed? Share them here in the comments section below!