The Birth of the Theory of Evolution, How Did the Theory of Evolution Emerge?June 26, 2021
The letters, fossil specimens and stuffed creatures that Darwin sent to England while he was traveling were transferred to English naturalists through his former teacher, Henslow, and Darwin’s reputation was thus gradually spreading. When the Beagle returned to England on October 2, 1836, Darwin was recognized as a respected naturalist.
When Darwin set foot in England, he first went to Shrewsbury to visit relatives, then came to Cambridge to work on the identification and classification of specimens he had collected on his Beagle voyage. Henslow assisted Darwin in classifying and naming plant specimens, but for animal specimens Darwin needed specialist zoologists. With the financial support of his father, Darwin went to London to meet with zoologists and met a biologist named Richard Owen through Charles Lyell. By examining the fossils Darwin brought, Owen identified many extinct animal species that were unknown until then. Among these species were large sloth-like mammals, a hippopotamus-like herbivore mammal (Toxodon), and a giant armadillo-like armored mammal (Gliptodon). These animals were anatomically close to South American animals, not to African animals as Darwin thought.
Darwin wrote a scientific paper on the rising of the South American continent in December 1836, and presented it to the Geological Society of London in January 1837, with Lyell’s support. On the same day, he presented the bird and mammal specimens he collected on his Beagle voyage to the Zoological Society of London. Ornithologist John Gould explained that a group of birds that Darwin could not identify and assumed belonged to different species were actually 12 new species of finches very close to each other. Darwin was elected to the Geographical Society Council in February 1837, and moved from Cambridge to London a month later.
In London scientific circles, the origin of life and species was a popular topic of discussion. One group led by the mathematician and philosopher Charles Babbage argued that God created life on Earth not by a special miracle, but through the laws of nature. Darwin’s professor at Edinburgh University, Robert Edmund Grant, and Dr. A group of scientists, such as James Gully, claimed that species could change into each other, but because of these ideas, they were accused by the majority of heresy and of trying to disrupt the social order.
In March 1837, John Gould declared that the mockingbirds that Darwin had collected from different islands belonged to different species. Darwin, who did not take note of which islands he collected the finches from, examined Captain FitzRoy’s notes and discovered that the different species of finches Gould described also came from different islands. By April 1837, Darwin understood that birds that migrated from the mainland and settled on different islands had somehow changed over time and turned into different species. In July, he began keeping a secret “B” diary, in which, alongside his usual diary, he wrote down his ideas about species interconversion, and drew an evolutionary tree for the first time on page 36 of this diary.