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					Surprising truths about
   Charles Darwin
        David Pannell
  University of Western Australia
Just a bloke with a good idea?
  I was interested in evolution but not in
   Darwin
  Eventually read Adrian Desmond and
   James Moore (1991) “Darwin”
                  Lifeline
 Born 1809
 Study (Edinburgh and Cambridge)
  1825-1831
 Voyage of the Beagle 1831-36
 Retired to Down 1842
 The Origin of Species
  1859
 Died 1882              Darwin’s home at Down, near London
    Darwin’s achievements
   Transformed biological science
      Both style and content
      Still the cornerstone of biology
      Now the cutting edge of psychology
   Transformed attitudes of humanity to
    our place in the universe
    Not just an evolutionist
 Not even a biologist to start with
 Collected beetles for fun
 Studied geology more seriously
 Considered himself a geologist
  throughout the Beagle voyage and for
  some time after
 Famous for working out how coral
  atolls are formed
His books (not just on evolution)
   Beagle voyage         Emotions
   Coral reefs           Climbing plants
   Volcanic islands      Domestication
   Geology of South      Cross and self
    America                fertilisation
   Barnacles             Orchids
   Species               Worms
   Man                   Autobiography
Contribution to style of science
  Pre-Darwin, science was done in
   homage to God
  Was primarily descriptive
  Deduction and theorising was
   disparaged as “speculation”
  Darwin used detailed observation to
   explore much larger questions - helped
   change scientific methods
       Natural selection
 Developed theory in complete isolation
 In face of violent opposition
 With no knowledge of genetics
 With no knowledge of DNA
 With no knowledge of plate tectonics
 With no observations of natural
  selection actually occurring
Not first to propose evolution
   French tradition
      Jean-Baptiste Lamark
      Etienne Geoffroy St Hilaire
 Erasmus Darwin (Grandfather)
 Robert Grant (Mentor)
 Was expounded in a popular book
  (“Vestiges”) 15 years before “Origin”
    Darwin was mis-credited
 Died famous for evolution (which was
  not his idea)
 Natural selection not widely accepted,
  even among his supporters
 Darwin remained convinced
 Only 40-50 years later did scientists
  appreciate his foresight.
            The Beagle
Only 90 foot long, but carrying 74 people.
Joining the Beagle Voyage
 Not paid for 5 years on Beagle.
 Actually, he had to pay!
 Was lucky to get on
     replaced someone who was
      shot in a duel
     his father opposed him going
 Mainly asked because of his class, to
  keep Captain Fitzroy company
 It was the making of him
         Galapogos, 1835
 Portrayed as a “Eureka” experience.
 Actually, was hugely homesick
 Did not recognise significance until
  back in England, 1837.
      Worked out theory much later.
      First inkling of natural selection in 1838.
   Turtles & finches were key evidence
      On boat home, ate turtles, dumped shells
      Thought finches different species; didn’t
       even label them properly
The Beagle in Sydney Harbour
        Darwin in Australia
   Only visited three places in Australia
      Sydney, Jan 1836
      Hobart, Feb 1836
      Albany, Mar 1836

     “On the whole I do not like New South Wales. It
     is no doubt an admirable place to accumulate
     pounds and shillings; but heaven forbid that I
     should live where every man is sure be
     somewhere between a petty rogue and a
     bloodthirsty villain.” (Darwin to Henslow)
         Darwin in Albany
   In Albany 6-14 March 1836
      “The settlement consists of 30-40 small
       white washed cottages, which are
       scattered on the side of a bank and along a
       white sea beach.”
 Explored Bald Head
 Attended a corroboree.
 Visited Strawberry Hill Farm
         Darwin in Albany
   Felt homesick. Departure delayed by
    strong winds.
      “I do not remember, since leaving England,
       having passed a more dull and
       uninteresting time.” (Voyage)
   Failed to recognise the massive
    biodiversity.
      “He who thinks with me will never wish to
       walk again in so uninviting a country.”
       (Voyage)
        Darwin in Albany
 By FAR the most important and the
  most famous person ever to visit
  Albany.
 One of very few places he did visit
  outside England and South America
 Not a single indication of his ever
  having visited.
     No plaque, monument, street name, place
      name
          The Big Idea:
         Natural Selection
 He knew about fossils        Darwin’s sand walk at Down:
                                  a daily thoughtful stroll

 Collected many for extinct animals
 Knew about Llyell’s theory of
  “evolution” of geology
 Read Malthus (an economist) on
  population and competition for
  resources.
 His ideas developed steadily over 20
  years
    Influence of economics
 He read Malthus and Adam Smith
 Saw specialisation benefits in factory
  Wedgewood (wife’s family owned it)
 Evolutionary biology makes use of
  models from economics, especially
  game theory.
     Example: “The Selfish Gene”, Richard
      Dawkins
Slow to publish: Why so long?
  Anguish
  Illness
  Slow development of ideas
  Collection of a wealth of evidence
                Anguish
   Social class
      Respectability
      Evolution subversive - against his class
   Religous considerations
      especially worried about hurting wife
       Emma who grieved for his soul
 Scientific prejudice against
  “speculation”
 “Like confessing a murder.”
                  Illness
   Problems throughout life
      violent shivering, vomiting, exhaustion,
       palpitations, hands trembling, head
       swimming, sleeplessness, headaches,
       flatulence, stomach problems, ringing of
       ears, fainting, copious pallid urine
 In 1841 could work “an hour or two a
  couple of days a week.”
 Chaga’s disease? Just nervous?
  Poisoning himself with medecine?
Slow to publish: Why so long?
  Anguish
  Illness
  Slow development of ideas
  Detailed analysis, collection of a
   wealth of evidence
      pigeons
      barnacles
               Barnacles
   Started out as a brief study.
      Took 8 years (from 1948).
      Huge 2 volume treatise overhauling entire
       sub-class.
   Dominated his kids lives
      One of his kids asked a friend, “Where
       does your dad do his barnacles?”
   Established him as a biological
    specialist, not just a geologist
      Royal Society Medal
            Courage
 On Beagle voyage, rode hundreds of
  miles through bandit areas and war
  zones in South America
 Stayed on the voyage for five years
  despite extreme sea sickness
 Worked through his illnesses
 Was willing to publish “Origins”
  despite the risks
             Wealth
 Father a wealthy doctor
 Reduced his enthusiasm to get a job as
  a doctor or clergyman
 Wealth bought time and resources
 Made money from investments (land
  and railway stocks), not from books
    Alfred Russel Wallace
 Thought of natural selection
  independently
 Wrote to Darwin
 Darwin had been working on book
 Published a “letter” jointly
 Bit it was Darwin who put in the hard
  yards collecting and documenting
  evidence to support theory
                 Religion
   Started out on path to clergy
      “The Darwins had produced lawyers and
       military men, but Charles lacked the self-
       discipline. There was, however, a safety
       net to stop second sons becoming
       wastrels: the Church of England. An
       aimless son with a penchant for field
       sports would fit in nicely.” (Desmond &
       Moore)
 Signed 39 articles of faith
 A naturalist parson?
              Religious conflict
       Samuel Wilberforce vs T.H.Huxley
    “Was it Wilberforce fell off
       Religion did accommodate reality and to
                                      “For once is whether I
Years later from your mother’s “If the questionDarwin his brain
    horse, your father’s head
his side or landed on his side would rather have a miserable
                                      came into contact, and the
        some extent
andthat you were descended
     was killed.                      for a was fatal.”
                                 ape result grandfather or a man
           Many
    from an ape?” religious leaders not literalist who
                                 of means and influence
           Science served religion, so its findings
                                 uses these gifts to introduce
                                 ridicule into a God’s plan
              were taken as revelations of grave scientific
                                 discussion, I unhesitatingly
       Buried in Westminster Abbey for the
                                 affirm my preference
           The Times: “Theape!” needed Darwin
                                  Abbey
              more than Darwin needed the Abbey.”

				
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