7 Quirky Facts about Charles Darwin

By Maths Doctor Thursday, February 12, 2015

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February 12 is known as Darwin Day, which is a global celebration of science, and reason held on the anniversary of Charles Darwin’s birth in 1809. Most will know him for his theory of evolution. Here are 7 quirky and interesting facts you may not know.

1. He was meant to be in the medical profession

Before the times when Darwin was famously known for his fieldwork in biology, he attended Edinburgh University with the intent of following in the footsteps of his father studying medicine. This however did not last long, as he couldn't stand the sight of blood and opted to study divinity instead, eventually becoming a pastor at a small church.

2. Ever heard of Mount Darwin?

No? For Darwin's 25th Birthday, Captain FitzRoy named a mountain after him. Yes, Mount Darwin, the highest peak in Tierra del Fuego. A year earlier, Darwin and his shipmates were on a small island in the Tierra del Fuego when a huge mass of ice fell from a glacier and plunged into the ocean, causing a huge wave. He helped save the ship from being swept away. For the brave feat, the captain named the area Darwin Sound.

3. He was a backgammon beast

He suffered from many mysterious illnesses, with symptoms that include insomnia and headaches. Over the years he developed a strict daily schedule, which featured a lot of reading time, but included two games of backgammon with his wife every night. He had kept scores on all of their games over the years.

4. Darwin on marriage

Prior to his marriage to his wife, he had composed a pros/cons list on whether to marry, considering his logical self. During the composition of this list, his pros included “charms of music & female chit chat” and “children”, compared with cons such as “feel the duty to work for money” and “conversation of clever men at clubs.” His conclusion was to marry to his wife Emma Wedgewood in 1839.

5. Exotic animals

He loved to taste exotic meats as being part of the "Glutton Club" in Cambridge, but reported once had gagged on a brown owl, writing the taste down as "indescribable". However this did not put him off trying more exotic meats on his journeys.

6. He shared more than just a birthday with Abraham Lincoln.

Both Darwin and Abraham Lincoln were born on February 12, 1809 and both contributed greatly to the changing the lives of future generations. However, their similarities don’t stop there, both were firm abolitionist. During his travels in South America, he saw slavery practiced first hand branding it a “monstrous strain on our boasted liberty” had seen enough to be “thoroughly disgusted”.

7. He took 20 years to publish his groundbreaking findings

His most famous work “On the origin of Species” was developed on his five-year voyage on HMS Beagle, which ended in 1836 that provided him research material that contributed to his work. Concerned with the public’s acceptance about his life changing idea, he did not present his work until 1858; 22 years after his findings, and within the next year had published his work “The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection.”

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