Charles Darwin

12th February 1809 to 19th April 1892
Charles Darwin

Charles Darwin was a student at Edinburgh University, studying what was then the best medical degree in the world. However, he found medicine too grisly and upsetting, and didn’t finish the course.

Darwin instead became a geologist and naturalist who developed ideas on natural selection with observations of animals taken on travels around the world while studying the geology and fossils of various locations. During these travels on ship The Beagle, Darwin was a geologist, and began to develop ideas on how animals evolved around the world based on questions raised by the fossils he found.

He wrote Origin of the Species, a controversial book theorising that animals evolved through a process of natural selection and environment, causing a rethink of the prevailing belief that the earth was only a few thousand years old, and everything on it had been created in seven days by God.

Although by no means the only scientist to come up with this theory, Darwin’s evidence was compelling. The book was popular, capturing the public imagination and the condemnation of the Church, and Darwin became established as the authority on the subject.

Evolution, the concept that all animals including men are descended from common ancestors, remains the prevailing theory of life on Earth, although it is still contested in some religious quarters.