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Charles Darwin


Charles Darwin Lecture 18 – PowerPoint PPT presentation

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Title: Charles Darwin

Lecture 18
Charles Darwin
Evolutionary predecessors
  • Over the years before Darwin, many biologists
    attempted to solve the mystery of the species

  • Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury,
    Shropshire, England on 16th Feb 1809
  • His father (Robert Waring Darwin) and
    grandfather (E. Darwin) were both doctors
  • His mother was Susannah Wedgewood Darwin was the
    daughter of a Josiah Wedgewood - founder of
    Wedgewood China
  • He had just one brother and four sisters
  • He attended Shrewsbury Grammar School, but
    preferred to hunt and collect shells and coins.
    He also enjoyed learning Latin and Greek.

  • Darwin Family Tree

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  • In 1825 he enrolled at Edinburgh University to
    study medicine, where he learned about taxidermy
    (useful later in his life)
  • He dropped out because he did not like the
  • He had failed his family
  • In 1827 he enrolled at Cambridge University and
    began to study to become a clergyman
  • However, he preferred to collect insects!!!
  • It was at Cambridge that he began to appreciate
    the vast diversity of species
  • His professors were followers of Lamarcks ideas
    about inheritance of acquired characters
  • He also learnt natural theology - Understand God
    by studying Gods creation

  • Darwin did graduate from Cambridge at age 23
    with a B.Sc. Degree in Theology
  • Before joining the Church of England he wanted
    to travel - as it was the great time of
  • He wanted to visit exotic locations before
    settling down to relegious work.
  • In 1830, the British government commissioned a
    90-foot ship HMS Beagle devoted to the
    acquisition of knowledge. It was really to test
    new clocks and find new sources of wealth.
  • Darwin, through a contact at Cambridge, was
    recommended and signed up as the ships unpaid

  • The Beagle sailed more than 40,000 miles from
    Dec 1831 to Oct 1836
  • Darwin spent 18 months at sea and the rest of
    the time on land
  • Of the 58 month voyage, he spent 43 in South
  • He visited the Galapagos Islands where he made
    his most profound observations.
  • This time would transform his life and biology!

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Darwin exploring the Galápagos Islands
  • Darwin exploring the Galápagos Islands

Galápagos tortoise
  • Galápagos tortoise

  • Whilst on the voyage he was given a book to read
    by the captain - this book would transform
    Darwins thinking
  • The book was written by Lyell, who had put
    together all the previous arguments about the age
    of the Earth and geological time, providing real
    examples of geological changes that shaped the
  • When Darwin boarded The Beagle he was a firm
    believer in the clergy and the fixation of
    species - when he disembarked he was a changed
    man and wanted to discover the laws of nature!
  • Then back on England Darwin began to put all the
    pieces together.

  • Another book that Darwin read sealed the deal for
  • A manuscript published by Thomas Malthus implied
    that given ideal conditions a population would
    grow exponentially
  • However, the resources would not grow in the
    same fashion - they would grow linearly
  • Therefore, at some time the population would
    exceed the resources and there would be a
    struggle for existence
  • Darwin put together the short term struggle for
    existence (Malthus) with the great geological
    timescale (Lyell)

Galápagos finches
  • Analysis of these finches led scientists to
    hypothesize that they were derived from one
    ancestor arriving from the mainland to populate
    and diversify across the islands.

FIGURE 1.3 J-B. de Lamarck (17441829)
  • (a) J-B. de Lamarck worked most of his life at
    the Muséum dHistoire Naturelle (b). His academic
    position gave him a chance to promote the idea
    that species change.

Giraffe necks
  • Applied to giraffes, Lamarcks view (top) would
    expect that stretching giraffes lengthened their
    necks to reach tree-top vegetation, and this
    acquired characteristics was passed to offspring.
    In Darwins view (bottom), giraffes with long
    necks out competed those with short necks who
    died for want of successful resources.

Schools of evolutionary thought
  • The views of Linneaus, Lamarch, and Darwin are
    contrasted. A) Linneaus saw each species as a
    separate act of creation, one by one. B) Lamarck
    envisioned the passage of acquired
    characteristics of one generation to succeeding
    generations. C) Darwin viewed evolution as
    descent with modification.

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FIGURE 1.2 Carolus Linnaeus (17071778)
  • This Swedish biologist devised a system still
    used today for naming organisms. He also firmly
    abided by and promoted the view that species do
    not change.