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Charles Darwin was a British naturalist who developed a theory of evolution based on natural selection. His views and “social Darwinism” remain controversial up to present times.
See the fact file below for more information on the Charles Darwin or alternatively, you can download our 20-page Charles Darwin worksheet pack to utilise within the classroom or home environment.
Key Facts & Information
- Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, in the tiny merchant town of Shrewsbury, England. He was a child of wealth and privilege who loved to explore nature.
- Darwin was the second youngest of six kids of wealthy society doctor and financier Robert Darwin and Susannah Darwin. His grandparents were Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood, who were both prominent abolitionists.
- Darwin came from a long line of scientists: His father, Dr. R.W. Darwin, was a medical doctor, and his grandfather, Dr. Erasmus Darwin, was a renowned botanist. Darwin’s mother, Susanna, died when he was only eight years old.
- Through hands-on research and experimentation, he had the unique opportunity to closely observe principles of botany, geology, and zoology. The Pacific Islands and Galapagos Archipelago were of particular interest to Darwin, as was South America.
- Upon his return to England in 1836, Darwin began to write up his findings in the Journal of Researches, published as part of Captain FitzRoy’s larger narrative and later edited into the Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle.
- The trip had a monumental effect on Darwin’s view of natural history. He began to develop a revolutionary theory about the origin of living beings that ran contrary to the popular view of other naturalists at the time.
THEORY OF EVOLUTION
- Darwin’s theory of evolution declared that species survived through a process called “natural selection,” where those that successfully adapted or evolved to meet the changing requirements of their natural habitat thrived and reproduced, while those species that failed to evolve and reproduce died off.
- Through his observations and studies of birds, plants, and fossils, Darwin noticed similarities among species all over the globe, along with variations based on specific locations, leading him to believe that the species we know today had gradually evolved from common ancestors.
- Darwin’s theory of evolution and the process of natural selection later became known simply as “Darwinism.”
- At the time, other naturalists believed that all species either came into being at the start of the world or were created over the course of natural history. In either case, they believed species remained much the same throughout time.
- Darwin’s fame and popularity led to his name being associated with ideas. Social Darwinism is a collection of ideas that emerged in the late 1800s that adopted Darwin’s theory of evolution to explain social and economic issues.
- Darwin himself rarely commented on any connections between his theories and human society. But while attempting to explain his ideas to the public, Darwin borrowed widely understood concepts, such as “survival of the fittest” from sociologist Herbert Spencer.
- Over time, as the Industrial Revolution and laissez faire capitalism swept across the world, social Darwinism has been used as a justification for imperialism, labor abuses, poverty, racism, eugenics, and social inequality.
DEATH AND LEGACY
- In 1882 Darwin was diagnosed with what was called “angina pectoris” which then meant coronary thrombosis and disease of the heart. At the time of his death, physicians diagnosed “anginal attacks” and “heart-failure.”
- It has been speculated that he may have suffered from chronic Chagas disease. Following a lifetime of devout research, Charles Darwin died at his family home, Down House, in London, on April 19, 1882. He was buried at Westminster Abbey.
- More than a century later, Yale ornithologist Richard Brum sought to revive Darwin’s lesser-known theory on sexual selection in The Evolution of Beauty.
- While Darwin’s original attempts to cite female aesthetic mating choices as a driving force of evolution was criticized, Brum delivered an effective argument via his expertise in birds, earning a selection to The New York Times’ list of 10 best books of 2017.
- At the time of his death, Darwin and his colleagues had convinced most scientists that “evolution is descent with modification” was correct, and he was regarded as a great scientist who had revolutionized ideas.
- In June 1909, though few at that time agreed with his view that “natural selection has been the main but not the exclusive means of modification”, he was honoured by more than 400 officials and scientists from across the world who met in Cambridge to commemorate his centenary and the fiftieth anniversary of On the Origin of Species.
- Around the beginning of the 20th century, a period that has been called “the eclipse of Darwinism”, scientists proposed various alternative evolutionary mechanisms, which eventually proved untenable.
Charles Darwin Worksheets
This is a fantastic bundle which includes everything you need to know about Charles Darwin across 20 in-depth pages. These are ready-to-use Charles Darwin worksheets that are perfect for teaching students about Charles Darwin who was a British naturalist who developed a theory of evolution based on natural selection. His views and “social Darwinism” remain controversial up to present times.
Complete List Of Included Worksheets
- Charles Darwin Facts
- The Fame
- I Contribute
- His Legacy
- Good or Trash
- Well Known
- Fave Scientist
- Darwinism Theory
- Jumbled Fact
- Own Theory
- Family Tree
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Use With Any Curriculum
These worksheets have been specifically designed for use with any international curriculum. You can use these worksheets as-is, or edit them using Google Slides to make them more specific to your own student ability levels and curriculum standards.