By Steve Jones
The foundation of Species is the main well-known e-book in technology yet its stature has a tendency to vague the genius of Charles Darwin's different works. The Beagle voyage, too, occupied purely 5 of the fifty years of his profession. He spent merely 5 weeks at the Galapagos and on his go back by no means left Britain back. Darwin wrote six million phrases, in nineteen books and innumerable letters, on issues as assorted as canines, barnacles, insect-eating crops, orchids, earthworms, apes and human emotion. jointly, they laid the rules of contemporary biology.
In this superbly written, witty and illuminating booklet, Steve Jones explores the household Darwin, the sage of Kent, and brings his paintings modern. nice Britain used to be Charles Darwin's different island, its nation-state as a lot, or extra, a spot of discovery than were the Galapagos. It lines the good naturalist's moment trip throughout its modest panorama: a voyage no longer of the physique yet of the mind.
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Extra resources for Darwin's Island: The Galapagos in the Garden of England
They lived in woodlands, plains, forests and swamps. Some were no bigger than a cat and others larger than a gorilla. For much of the time their capital was in Europe and many of our predecessors have laid their bones there. Then the animals moved on, to set up shop in Africa. A ten-million-year-old fossil from Kenya may be the common ancestor of men, chimps and gorillas. If so, it confirms Darwin’s speculation that it was more probable ‘that our early progenitors lived on the African continent than elsewhere’.
He used changes in the physical structure of pigeons, pigs and people as evidence for his theory. The first chapter of The Descent of Man is a somewhat ponderous account of the differences between the bones and bodies of men and apes. Dissection, once at the centre of biology (and biologists of a certain age still flinch at the smell of formalin), not long ago appeared antiquated, but now it looks very modern. Molecular biology is no more than comparative anatomy plus a mountain of cash. Its chemical scalpels cut up creatures into thousands of millions of individual letters of DNA code.
He repented his blasphemy on his deathbed and was buried as a venerable and almost forgotten savant whose work - like that of so many famous scientists - had been completed while he was still a young man. That is an entire parody of the truth. Darwin was not a hired biologist but paid for his own trip as gentleman-companion to the Beagle’s captain. He spent but five weeks of the five-year voyage in the Galapagos, with just half the time passed on shore, on only four of the dozen or so members of the group.