Thursday 19 April 2018

Natural History Museum - Natural History Museum

History's most famous biologist
Photograph of Charles Darwin
Today marks the anniversary of Charles Darwin's death on 19 April 1882. He is celebrated as one of the greatest British scientists who ever lived.

Born in 1809 in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Darwin was fascinated by the natural world from a young age. He spent his youth reading nature books and collecting plants and insects. In 1831 he embarked on a five-year voyage aboard HMS Beagle -it was a journey that changed both his life and the trajectory of Western scientific thinking.
What is the theory of natural selection?
Painting of a cactus finch
Darwin's discovery
On his travels Darwin had collected finches from many of the Galรกpagos Islands which helped him to formulate his theory that the 'fittest' individual organisms - those with the characteristics best suited to their environment - are more likely to survive and reproduce.
Fossils that inspired Darwin's theory of evolution
Artist interpretation of a Toxodon
In 1830s, a young Charles Darwin made a series of discoveries of fossils in South America. These mysterious remains of extinct mammals revolutionised his world view, impacted his understanding of extinction and helped to persuade him of the reality of evolution.
 Specimen spotlight
Darwin's octopus in the spirit collection
Darwin's octopus
Size: fits comfortably in the palm of your hand
Found: by Darwin in 1832 aboard the HMS Beagle, near the Cape Verde island of Santiago
Current location: the spirit collection in the Museum's Darwin Centre
'While looking for marine animals, with my head about two feet above the rocky shore, I was more than once saluted by a jet of water accompanied by a slight grating noise.' - Charles Darwin
 Visit the spirit collection
A tour of the spirit collection
Go behind the scenes with our knowledgeable science educators and explore treasures hidden among the 22 million animal specimens housed within the spirit collection. View specimens collected by Charles Darwin and meet Archie, the 8.62-metre-long giant squid.

Exclusive Member tip: Become a Member and you will experience extended tours of the spirit collection, and the chance to get closer to our specimens on exclusive behind-the-scenes tours. Find out more about membership >