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This Day in History

Born on this day

Sunday, February 12, 1809. :   Charles Darwin, the man who split the scientific community in two with his theory of evolution, is born.

     British naturalist Charles Robert Darwin was born on 12 February 1809 in Shrewsbury, England. Darwin's claim to fame is his publication of "On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life". The book put forth Darwin's theory of evolutionary selection, which expounded that survival or extinction of populations of organisms is determined by the process of natural selection, achieved through that population's ability to adapt to its environment. Ultimately, by following Darwin's theory of evolution to its conclusion, the book suggested that man evolved from apes. "The Origin of Species" was first published in November 1859.

It is worth noting that Darwin's theory of evolution was not original. Although Darwin is given the credit for the theory of evolution, he developed the theory out of the writings of his grandfather Erasmus. Large sections from Erasmus’s major work, ‘Zoonomia or the Laws of Organic Life’ are repeated in Darwin’s ‘Origin of Species’. There is evidence to suggest that many of the other ideas Charles proposed, such as the concept of modern biological evolution, including natural selection, were borrowed from ideas that had already been published by other scientists. Charles De Secondat Montesquieu (1689–1755), Benoit de Maillet (1656–1738), Pierre-Louis Maupertuis (1698–1759), Denis Diderot (1713–1784) and George Louis Buffon are just some whose ideas are believed by historians to have been plagiarised by Darwin, without due credit.

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