Charles Darwin was a keen naturalist and geologist who made detailed observations about the natural world.
Whilst studying at Cambridge, Darwin learnt many important scientific skills including species identification, how to catalogue specimens, and fieldwork.
Whilst on board HMS Beagle, Darwin came to understand how landscapes change as a result of geological processes, and led to him suggesting that coral reefs in the Pacific Ocean develop as a result of tectonic plate movement.
On the Galapagos Islands Darwin spent 5 weeks studying a variety of animal and plant life, including finches, tortoises and mockingbirds in particular.
During his time on HMS Beagle, Darwin collected thousands of natural specimens of birds, plants and fossils from across the globe, including 13 species of finch taken from some of the Galapagos Islands.
Upon his return to the UK, Darwin became puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils he had collected on the voyage.
He noticed that whilst there were species of animal that existed unchanged across the globe, some other species showed physical differences based on the ecological habitat from which they came. After extensive investigation and discussion with other scientists, Darwin developed the idea that all species evolve through a process of Natural Selection, where certain members successfully adapt to cope with changes in their habitat, and others that fail to adapt eventually die out. This theory was later published in his book “On the Origin of Species”.
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