Monday, December 27, 2010

On This Date

On December 27, 1831, the Royal Navy's HMS Beagle left anchorage and headed out of Plymouth Sound on a nearly 5-year journey to survey South America and return via New Zealand and Australia. The ship's captain Robert Fitzroy had her extensively and expensively refitted for the voyage. Having failed to find a friend to accompany him on the trip, Fitzroy asked a fellow captain, Francis Beaufort, to identify a naturalist who might join the venture at his own expense. A young man preparing for the clergy named Charles Darwin filled that role. His  voyage on the Beagle altered his way of thinking about nature and the natural sciences as we know them today (although the later would have changed regardless based on the contemporaneous work of Alfred Russel Wallace and subsequent naturalists).

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