Darwin in Scotland

HMS Beagle

HMS Beagle

This year is the bicentennial of Charles Darwin’s birth and 150 years since the publication of his masterpiece, The Origin of Species.

The inspiration he found in visiting the Galapagos Islands is very well known, but in the Editorial, ‘Darwin in Scotland’ by Dominic J. McCafferty (The Glasgow Naturalist-2009), we find that the time Darwin spent in Scotland probably had some lasting influence on his work.

He began studying medicine in Edinburgh at the age of 16, his preferred subjects being chemistry and natural history.  He spent some time studying marine life in the Firth of Forth, giving his first scientific presentation based on his observations.  Years later, after his Galapagos Expedition, he visited Scotland for a short field trip, during which time he visited Glasgow, Edinburgh and Glen Roy.  On describing his Scottish travels, he said that it had been “far the most remarkable area I ever examined”.

He was also influenced by eminent Scottish scientists of the time, Joseph Hooker and Charles Lyell.

So, it seems Scotland has a strong association with this world famous naturalist!


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Rodger is the Director of ScotClans. Expert in all things clan and tartan.

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