Charles Robert Darwin (12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist who showed that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and proposed thescientiﬁc theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection. He published his theory with compelling evidence for evolution in his 1859 book Onthe Origin of Species.The scientiﬁc community and much of the general public came to accept evolution as a fact in his lifetime, but it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesisfrom the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed that natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution.  In modiﬁed form, Darwin's scientiﬁc discovery is the unifying theory ofthe life sciences, explaining the diversity of life. Darwin's early interest in nature led him to neglect his medical education at the University of Edinburgh; instead, he helped to investigate marineinvertebrates. Studies at the University of Cambridge encouraged his passion for natural science. His ﬁve-year voyage on HMS Beagle established him as an eminent geologist whose observations andtheories supported Charles Lyell's uniformitarian ideas, and publication of his journal of the voyage made him famous as a popular author. Puzzled by the geographical distribution of wildlife and fossils hecollected on the voyage, Darwin investigated the transmutation of species and conceived his theory of natural selection in 1838.Although he discussed his ideas with several naturalists, he neededtime for extensive research and his geological work had priority. He was writing up his theory in 1858 when Alfred Russel Wallace sent him an essay which described the same idea, prompting immediatejoint publication of both of their theories. Darwin's work established evolutionary descent with modiﬁcation as the dominant scientiﬁc explanation of diversiﬁcation in nature.In 1871, he examined human...
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