Charles Darwin – 5 Rare Facts About the Galapagos Island’s Most Famous Visitor
Charles Darwin is legendary as the biologist who published the famous work “Origin of the Species” that continues to stir controversy 150 years after its publication. Many know about his voyage to the Galapagos Islands off the coast of Ecuador which formed the basis of his theories, but how many of the facts below do you know?
Darwin wasn’t the only evolutionary theorist on the block
Shaken to his theological core by the implication of his theory of evolution and concerned about the response to his findings, Darwin sat on his research for two decades after reaching his conclusions. In the late 1850s he was shaken out of his self inflicted paralysis with the discovery that another biologist, Alfred Russel Wallace, had come up with a similar theory. Darwin was motivated into action, and finished Origin of the Species in time for a joint presentation of his and Wallace’s work at the Linnean Society in London in July 1858. Darwin was credited with the theory as his version was deemed to be more complete.
Darwin has his own award
Several forms of the Darwin Award exist, all with the tongue-in-cheek intention of honoring people who “…ensure the long-term survival of the human race by removing themselves from the gene pool in a sublimely idiotic fashion,” according to Wendy Nothcutt, author of the Darwin Award book series. Wendy permits award applications based on 4 categories; Inability to Reproduce (nominee must be rendered dead or sterile), Excellence (astoundingly stupid judgement), Self-selection (cause of one’s demise), Maturity (capable of sound judgement) and Veracity (ability to be verified as a genuine event). Glorious examples include using a lighter to illuminate a fuel tank to make sure it contains nothing flammable and juggling active hand grenades. It’s not often that tragedy meets comedy and science, but when it happens, it’s beautiful.
Darwin got a mountain for his 25th birthday
Most of us make do with socks from Auntie, but not Charles Darwin. On Feburary 12th, 1834 whilst rounding the bottom of the American continent, Captain Fitzroy was feeling generous. The Captain of the Beagle, the ship which carried Darwin on his research expedition, he named the highest peak in Tierra del Fuego “Mount Darwin”.
Darwin married his cousin
A scientist to the core, Darwin tackled every problem with a logical approach. This included marriage, for which he made a long list of pros and cons. The greatest con potentially seen by many is that the marriage was to his first cousin, Emma Wedgewood. However, this didn’t cloud the conclusions of logic, and Darwin signed off his musings with the statement “Marry – Marry – Marry Q.E.D.”. Thus the father of the concept of importance in genetic variation left the mark of his ironic decision on the pages of history…
Darwin had no sea legs
Darwin was sick to his stomach for the majority of his time at sea, a circumnavigation of the globe that took about 5 years. This could explain why he spent so much time on land and catalogued so thoroughly the flora and fauna of the incredible diversity in the Galapagos Islands and other destinations on his voyage.
An interesting character, Darwin is still the inspiration for many with the publication of his theory in the face of huge public opposition, and many follow in his footsteps to the Galapagos Islands. It seems that even for a theologian settling down for a quiet life as Darwin almost once became, a trip around the world to see wonderful and exotic places can have the same life-changing effect as for visitors to the Galapagos Islands 200 years later.