Everyone knows about Charles Darwin (Bicentenary : Feb12th,2009) and his theory of natural selection, but here is something which many of us may not be knowing.
1. Darwin Wanted to Be a Doctor, but He Couldn't Stand the Sight of Blood
Darwin attended Edinburgh University in hopes of becoming a physician like his father, but soon abandoned the idea because he couldn't stand the sight of blood. So he decided to study divinity instead and become a rural cleric, which would fit his hobby of being a naturalist just fine.
2. Darwin Once Ate an Owl
Darwin was an inquisitive man. He was curious about nature. When he saw strange animals, he often wondered what they would taste like. This is the reason why he actually ate an ‘Owl’!
3. Darwin's Nose Almost Cost Him the Voyage on the Beagle
The Captain of HMS Beagle, Robert FitzRoy, was about to embark on a survey expedition to South America, but he was afraid of the stress and loneliness of such a voyage. So FitzRoy asked his superiors for a well-educated and scientific gentleman companion to come along as an unpaid naturalist whom he could treat as an equal. The professors at Cambridge recommended then 22-years old Charles Darwin for the trip.
Darwin and FitzRoy got together well, but later Darwin found out that he almost didn't get picked for the voyage ... on account of the shape of his nose!
4. Best Birthday Gift Ever: a Mountain!
For Darwin's 25th birthday on February 12, 1834, Captain FitzRoy named a mountain after him. Yes, Mount Darwin. It is the highest peak in Tierra del Fuego.
5. The Full Title of "On The Origin of Species"
You probably know that Darwin's most famous work, outlining his theory of evolution, is On the Origin of Species but what most people don't know is the full title: On the Origin of Species by means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favored Races in the Struggle for Life. It was published in 1859, twenty years after his epic voyage. In the 6th edition, the title was changed to The Origin of Species.
6. Darwin Didn't Invent the Phrase "Survival of the Fittest"
That was Herbert Spencer, a philosopher and contemporary of Charles Darwin. After reading Darwin's On the Origin of Species, Spencer wrote Principles of Biology in 1864. He coined the phrase "survival of the fittest" and extended Darwin's theory of natural selection into the realm of sociology, ethics, and economics.
Darwin himself used the phrase in his 5th edition of The Origin and gave full credit to Spencer.
7. Darwin Married His First Cousin
Darwin was a logical man, and he approached the important issue of marriage like he would any problem. In The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, Darwin made careful pro and con list of marriage to his first cousin, Emma Wedgwood.
It is ironic that the man who gave rise to the importance of genetics in natural selection chose to marry his first cousin (Darwin wasn't alone in this - Einstein also married his cousin), but one thing is for sure: Darwin cleverly avoided adding more relatives to visit!
8. How Darwin Lost His Faith in Christianity
Darwin was actually quite a religious fellow but he lost his faith when his daughter Annie caught scarlet fever and died at the age of 10. He wrote "We have lost the joy of the household, and the solace of our old age ... Oh that she could now know how deeply, how tenderly we do still & and shall ever love her dear joyous face."
9. Darwin was a Backgammon Fiend
After his return from South America, Darwin developed a life-long illness that left him severely debilitated or bed-ridden for long periods of time. Darwin consulted with more than 20 doctors, but the cause of his disease was never discovered.
10. Church of England Finally Apologized to Darwin
When Darwin's work on the theory of evolution came out, the church attacked him vociferously. Now, 126 years after his death, The Church of England has apologized to Darwin:
Charles Darwin: 200 years from your birth, the Church of England owes you an apology for misunderstanding you and, by getting our first reaction wrong, encouraging others to misunderstand you still. Good religion needs to work constructively with good science – and I dare to suggest that the opposite may be true as well.