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Charles Darwin, 1809 – 1882
In the nineteenth century he was instrumental in transforming our view of life on this planet, and our place within its ranks.
In 1831 Darwin set sail on the second voyage of the HMS Beagle. On that voyage he observed and recorded the geology and biology of the many places he visited; noting life adapting to the unique niches in which it found itself.
Darwin encountered the Galapagos finches, which he noted had developed adaptations based on their lifestyle and feeding habits, most notably the wide variations in beak shape.
He also noted the variation in the shape of the shells of the Giant Tortoises of the Galapagos depending on which island they lived. He failed to return any specimens of the Tortoise as he and the crew found them too delicious.
After returning home in 1836 he started to formulate his theories based on the evidence he had gathered; over the years developing his ideas to publish in 1859 “On the Origin of the Species”, setting out how life evolves by a process of natural selection.