Charles Darwin studied the flora and fauna of South America around the time thie portrait was painted, when he was 22 years old. He published his most famous book, the revolutionary On the Origin of Species, when he was 50.

Painting by George Richmond, courtesy National Geographic
  • On February 12, 1809, Charles Robert Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England. Darwin was a naturalist who in 1820 traveled around the world on the ship Beagle. On his trip, Darwin saw evidence for the theory of natural selection. Natural selection explains that throughout time, plants and animals adapt to their environments as individuals. Better-adapted individuals overtake the whole of the species, because they are more likely to survive.
     
    Darwin's theory changed the way we look at life on Earth. Before his time, the world and the things in it were viewed as static, always having been the way they are now. His theory opened people up to the idea that plants and animals had changed in the past, and will continue to change in the future.
  • Term Part of Speech Definition Encyclopedic Entry
    adapt Verb

    to adjust to new surroundings or a new situation.

    environment Noun

    conditions that surround and influence an organism or community.

    evidence Noun

    data that can be measured, observed, examined, and analyzed to support a conclusion.

    naturalist Noun

    person who studies the natural history or natural development of organisms and the environment.

    natural selection Noun

    process by which organisms that are better -adapted to their environments produce more offspring to transmit their genetic characteristics.