Tag Archives: Darwin and the Voyage

Darwin and the Voyage: 11 ~ Elephants and Horses

In 1833, Darwin spent a fair amount of time on the East Coast of South America, including in the Pampas, where he had access to abundant fossil material. Here I’d like to examine his writings about some of the megafauna, including Toxodon, Mastodon, and horses, and his further considerations of biogeography and evolution. Continue reading Darwin and the Voyage: 11 ~ Elephants and Horses

Darwin and the Voyage: 10 ~ Rheas and the Birth of Evolutionary Theory

Everyone knows about Darwin’s Finches, of the Galapagos Islands. But of course, Darwin made observations of birds throughout his travels on The Beagle. Here, I present a number of passages from The Voyage that include some of these observations. Continue reading Darwin and the Voyage: 10 ~ Rheas and the Birth of Evolutionary Theory

Darwin and the Voyage: 09 ~ Fossil Quadrupeds

Charles Darwin wrote a book called Geological Observations on South America. Since Fitzroy needed to carry out intensive and extensive coastal mapping in South America, and Darwin was, at heart, a geologist more than anything else (at least during the Beagle’s voyage), this meant that Darwin would become the world’s expert on South American geology. Much of The Voyage is about his expeditions and observations. Part of this, of course, was figuring out the paleontology of the region. Continue reading Darwin and the Voyage: 09 ~ Fossil Quadrupeds

Darwin and the Voyage: 06 ~ Bugs

When reading the Voyage, it is impossible to miss the observation that much of the time Darwin was engaged in adolescent boy behavior: Pulling the heads off insects, noting how long they would wiggle after cut in half, closely examining the ooze and guts, occupied much of his time. Obviously, careful observation and a strong stomach were not all that was required to think up Natural Selection and his other theories, or the Origin of Species would have been written dozens of times by dozens of grown up kids. Continue reading Darwin and the Voyage: 06 ~ Bugs

Darwin and the Voyage: 04 ~ Darwin Gets his Wellies Wet

I became acquainted with an Englishman who was going to visit his estate … more than a hundred miles [north] of Cape Frio. As I was quite unused to travelling, I gladly accepted his kind offer of allowing me to accompany him.

And so was the case with a number of Darwin’s excursions into the bush. Continue reading Darwin and the Voyage: 04 ~ Darwin Gets his Wellies Wet

Darwin and the Voyage: 03 ~ The Rain Forest

i-483a35d54b9f564228dc98196d965c2f-rain_forest.jpgThe first time I read the following passage from The Voyage, I was reminded of my own first experience in a rain forest (in Zaire). Evident in this passage is at least a glimmering of Darwin’s appreciation for the complexity of ecosystems. Darwin could be considered the first scientific ecologist. Enough of my commentary … this passage very much stands on it’s own … Continue reading Darwin and the Voyage: 03 ~ The Rain Forest

Darwin and the Voyage: 02 ~ Crossing The Atlantic



Behold this humble passage by Darwin, which is what immediately follows his discussion of the octopus. This passage is a touchstone to several important aspects of what Darwin was doing and thinking, and is a poignant link to what Darwin did not know:

Continue reading Darwin and the Voyage: 02 ~ Crossing The Atlantic

Darwin and the Voyage: 01 ~ Introduction

Of his time on the Beagle (1832 – 1836), Darwin wrote, “The voyage of the Beagle has been by far the most important event in my life and has determined my whole career.” Of the manuscript describing that voyage, he wrote, “The success of this my first literary child always tickles my vanity more than that of any of my other books.” Continue reading Darwin and the Voyage: 01 ~ Introduction