Once upon a time there was a little boy who collected birds' eggs and sea shells, beetles and coins, moths and minerals. He wasn’t a very good student, school just bored him. He had some difficulties in memorizing but he never tired of studying the details of the natural world. He was born in Shrewsbury, a rural town in England and he spent hours watching birds and lying under the dining-room table, reading.
As a teenager, he was thrilled by chemistry, biology, botany and geology. His father wanted him to be a doctor. But as he studied at the University of Cambridge, his teachers recognized his potential. Finally, his true talent for natural history blossomed.
One day he was invited to join a ship called Beagle for a trip around the world. It was time to follow his dream! He went as the ship's naturalist and for most of the next five years, the Beagle surveyed the coast of South America. He was free to explore the continent and islands, including the Galapagos and he filled dozens of notebooks with careful observations on animals, plants and geology, and collected thousands of specimens, which he sent home for further study.
Darwin later called the Beagle voyage "by far the most important event in my life," saying it "determined my whole career." By the time he returned, he was an established naturalist, well-known in London for the astonishing collections he had sent ahead. The Beagle voyage would provide Darwin with a lifetime of experiences to think about and the seeds of a theory he would work on for the rest of his life.
All images taken from the book “The Tree of Life” by Peter Sis
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