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Charles Darwin

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charles darwin

Charles Darwin (Wikimedia Commons)

Name:

Charles Darwin

Born/Died:

1809-1882

Nationality:

British

About Charles Darwin:

In the course of his career, Charles Darwin investigated just about every form of life except dinosaurs--including barnacles, plants, earthworms, and prehistoric mammals. However, his studies of the origins and evolution of life did coincide with the earliest dinosaur discoveries, and one of his first supporters was the famous paleontologist Richard Owen (who later turned his back on evolution). In an essential way, it was Darwin's theory that helped to make sense of the numerous dinosaur fossils being dug up all over the world in the 19th century.

In his seminal 1859 book, On The Origin of Species, Darwin explained the crucial role played by natural selection--that is, the weeding out of "unfit" animals and plants by environmental pressure--which made him a lightning rod for religious fundamentalists who insisted (and still insist today) on divine creation and "intelligent design." One of the amazing things about Darwin's theory is that he proposed it long before scientists had grasped the genetic chemistry of life; in that light, the discovery of DNA in the 20th century was an impressive confirmation of evolutionary theory.

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