California Academy of Sciences curator Gary Williams reports on Darwin's discovery of the giant ground sloth (Mylodon Darwinii) giant armadillos (Glyptodont), and the profound influence of South America on Darwin's theories.
California Academy of Sciences curator Gary Williams discusses Darwin's findings on the migration of species from North and South America. Interestingly, the camel migrated from what is now Las Vegas down to South America, where it was eventually domesticated into the llama and alpaca.
(born Feb. 12, 1809, Shrewsbury, Shropshire, Eng.died April 19, 1882, Downe, Kent) British naturalist. The grandson of Erasmus Darwin and Josiah Wedgwood, he studied medicine at the University of Edinburgh and biology at Cambridge. He was recommended as a naturalist on HMS Beagle, which was bound on a long scientific survey expedition to South America and the South Seas (183136). His zoological and geological discoveries on the voyage resulted in numerous important publications and formed the basis of his theories of evolution. Seeing competition between individuals of a single species, he recognized that within a local population the individual bird, for example, with the sharper beak might have a better chance to survive and reproduce and that if such traits were passed on to new generations, they would be predominant in future populations. He saw this natural selection as the mechanism by which advantageous variations were passed on to later generations and less advantageous traits gradually disappeared. He worked on his theory for more than 20 years before publishing it in his famous On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection (1859). The book was immediately in great demand, and Darwin's intensely controversial theory was accepted quickly in most scientific circles; most opposition came from religious leaders. Though Darwin's ideas were modified by later developments in genetics and molecular biology, his work remains central to modern evolutionary theory. His many other important works included Variation in Animals and Plants Under Domestication (1868) and The Descent of Man (1871). He was buried in Westminster Abbey. See alsoDarwinism.
Unfortunately skin color during the Victorian Era was so misunderstood...I think if Darwin was alive today he would see the error of his ways and would be embarrassed. Darwin was a gentle soul according to what others wrote about him at the time.
Ben Franklin wrote a letter complaining about all the German immigrants that read much like a Republican memo about immigration today...He even made reference to their skin color!
"Why should Pennsylvania, founded by the English, become a Colony of Aliens, who will shortly be so numerous as to Germanize us instead of our Anglifying them, and will never adopt our Language or Customs, any more than they can acquire our Complexion."
...That sounds like Newt Gingrich, Eric Cantor or any GOP leader today! I find it quite funny that America the nation of immigrants has always had those who hate immigrants!
There were big cats and Rhinos in North America as well as other "exotic" animals. It is still a mystery why they all died off.
This is amazing. I've never even heard of a ground sloth or of camels living in North America. It is interesting that South America had such a profound impact on Darwin's theories. Too bad he was raging racist or a victim of the Victorian times as Williams puts it.