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During his travels, famously including those through the Galapagos Islands, Darwin had regularly come across unusual groups of very closely related species, which he likened to variations on a theme. Meanwhile through his gentlemanly pursuits, he had come across bird, dog, and horse breeders who had created new breeds that differed from one another as much as wild species might differ from each other. These discoveries stimulated Darwin to construct his theory of evolution by natural selection.

What is Darwin’s On the Origin of Species and why is it significant?

Darwin had been working on a manuscript for many years when, in June , he received an essay from a fellow world traveler and naturalist, Alfred Russell Wallace — Wallace had independently arrived at exactly the same conclusion as Darwin: that the vast reproductive ability of living organisms, subtle variation within species, and the struggle for survival would result in the selection of any slight advantage and the inheritance of that advantage in future offspring. Darwin was a famous naturalist while Wallace was younger and less well known, but Darwin knew he would have to publish or forfeit credit for the originality of his ideas.

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The book soon generated a storm of controversy. It was assumed that species were fixed, created by a divine hand and therefore immutable. With Darwin and Wallace came, for the first time, an explanation of how species might change—an explanation that was coherent, plausible, and readily acceptable to the scientific community. It was not, however, acceptable to the clergy.

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  • They were presumably just as Darwin left them, and accordingly this arrangement was preserved when they were bound, the volumes now representing as closely as possible Charles Darwin's papers in the order in which he left them. Beside the original papers there were copies of a large number of letters to Darwin, collections of press-cuttings, etc. These online images are scans from copies of early black and white microfilms produced by the Cambridge University Library Imaging Service, mostly in the s. For online publication now a slight colour tint has been added to many and the brightness and contrast have been digitally enhanced.

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    To compare a document with and without the colour tint click here and here. Please note that many of the Darwin papers have been re-catalogued since microfilming in the s. In some cases items have been re-ordered or moved to other volumes in the archive. In such cases the electronic images may not match the current arrangement of the papers in Cambridge University Library.

    Charles Darwin Essay

    The immense value of this vast collection of material far exceeds the disadvantages of the occasional unreadable image and the lack of full colour. Several million pounds and years of production would be needed to produce colour digital images of the Darwin Archive. Hopefully this will eventually be achieved. In the meantime, most of the world's finest collection of Darwin's original manuscripts is now available for all to read, study and explore online and free of charge.

    See Darwin's handwriting beside a typed version:

    For an overview of Darwin's papers click here. The book focused on the transmutations of species and explained, in detail, the mechanism that underlies evolutionary change. In On the Origin of Species , Darwin countered the predominant view of the time by presenting observations on the high number of endemic species found in the islands, the close interrelatedness of these species, and the absence of some groups of species.

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    • Charles Darwin | Biography & Facts |
    • On the Origin of Species linked Darwin and Galapagos inextricably and changed the islands forever. By Dr.


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