Happy International Darwin Day from Metropolitan Touring
This February 12th, celebrate International Darwin Day with Metropolitan Touring! Darwin’s impact on natural science and human thought is difficult to measure. His theory of evolution has made a tremendous impact on the modern world, and that legacy is inarguably linked to the Galapagos Islands, where the English biologist found many examples of speciation that later led to the development of his ground-breaking theory.
International Darwin Day: Celebrating an Important Character in Galapagos History
It’s something of a myth to say that Darwin’s theory of evolution was the product of a moment of inspiration that took place on the Galapagos Islands. In reality, Darwin’s visit to the Galapagos was one step, albeit an essential one, in the development of Darwin’s ideas. Darwin set out on his voyage in 1835, 24 years before the publication of the first addition of his seminal work in 1959. And even then, it wasn’t until the book’s 5th edition that Darwin first used the term “survival of the fittest.”
He travelled on the HMS Beagle as the special guest of Capitan FitzRoy, and as they journeyed across the globe he slowly and diligently collected samples of the plant and animal life that he found. Collecting flora and fauna was a common practice among 19th century naturalists, who wanted to gather the widest variety of items possible in order to delimit precise categories in the plant and animal worlds. In the years following his return to England, Darwin began the arduous process of organizing, classifying, and categorizing the samples.
It was only after spending time analysing the material he had found that Darwin began to develop a theory around his observations. In fact, he himself fought the concepts that materialized out of the analysis:
In a letter to his friend Asa Gray, Darwin wrote:
I see no necessity in the belief that the eye was expressly designed. On the other hand I cannot anyhow be contented to view this wonderful universe, and especially the nature of man, and to conclude that everything is the result of brute force. I am inclined to look at everything as resulting from designed laws, with the details, whether good or bad, left to the working out of what we may call chance.
At that time and age, religious values in Great Britain made his theories unthinkable even to him, and those values make his work controversial even today. However, once the implications of Darwin’s theories set in for modern thinkers, they transformed the entire world’s way of looking at natural history and man’s role in it. To a great extent, this was the beginning of a new renaissance in human thought.
If you want to test your knowledge of all things Darwin, try taking this quiz.
Coincidentally, February 12th, which marks the date of Darwin´s birth in 1809, would also mark another date critical to the history of Galapagos. On this day in 1932, Ecuadorian General José de Villamil placed a flag on the island of Floreana, in honour of Juan José Flores, President of Ecuador, claiming possession of the Galapagos Islands: the Archipiélago de Colón became part of the Republic of Ecuador.
There is no better way to honor Charles Darwin than to come explore the Galapagos for yourself! Join us in celebrating the wonders of Darwin’s discovery on any of our three expedition vessels – Santa Cruz II, Yacht La Pinta and Yacht Isabela II – or at the award-winning Finch Bay Galapagos Hotel on Santa Cruz Island.
Happy International Darwin Day from your friends at Metropolitan Touring!
Writer, translator. Enthusiastic traveler of Ecuador and the Galapagos.