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December 27th – Charles Darwin sets sail on the H.M.S. Beagle

The H.M.S. Beagle on the southern tip of South America.

The H.M.S. Beagle at the southern tip of South America.

On this day in 1831, Charles Darwin began his voyage on the H.M.S. Beagle. Darwin’s discoveries the 5 year long journey on-board the Beagle led Darwin to postulate his theory of evolution by means of natural selection.

Darwin was brought on-board the Beagle to act as an expert geologist for the voyage. The Beagle was commissioned to conduct geological and hydrographical surveys of the southern coast of South America, a mission that Darwin assisted in tremendously. Besides his geological duties, Darwin was permitted to take on-board specimens from the places the Beagle would visit.

Darwin would publish The Voyage of the Beagle in 1839, documenting Darwin’s observations and adventures aboard the Beagle. Reflecting on what he saw during this voyage on the Beagle, Darwin published On the Origin of Species twenty years later (1859). On the Origin of Species was Darwin’s seminal work, fundamentally changing our ideas on the evolution of species.

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