Charles Darwin was born in 1809. He originally trained as a doctor but was more interested in nature, so he was known as a “Naturalist” (someone who studies animals and plants.
In 1831 Darwin set off on a journey around the world which lasted 5 years. This trip is commonly known as “The Voyage of the HMS Beagle” named after the ship he traveled on. On his voyage, Darwin collected specimens of animals and plant and sent it back to England.He also kept a journal of his observations. Darwin noticed that there were similarities between different species of animals and plants.
His observations of finches on the Galapagos Islands are probably the most famous example of this. Darwin noticed that the beaks of Finches on different islands were slightly different and so were the environments that the birds lived in. He thought that these finches had derived from a common ancestor which had migrated from mainland Chile. Where Darwin had observed some similar finches. Darwin noted many other examples like this one and also made comparisons between living organisms and fossils, arguing that they too came from a common ancestor, despite now being extinct.
Darwin thought that organisms came from a common ancestor and gradually changed over time. This theory is now commonly known as the Theory of Evolution.
Darwin noticed that there was variation between individuals of the same species and thought that individuals that were better suited to a particular environment had a greater chance of surviving. These individuals were therefore more likely to survive and reproduce, producing offspring with similar characteristics to their parents. Darwin called this theory Natural Selection It is also sometimes called “Survival of the Fittest”
Darwin’s theories were heavily criticised at the time. At the time scientists, including Darwin, did not know about genes or chromosomes, or how characteristics were inherited.