5 Things You Didn't Know About Charles Darwin

On February 12, 1809, naturalist Charles Darwin was born in Shrewsbury, England. Darwin's scientific theory of evolution by natural selection became the foundation of modern evolutionary studies. Here are five things you didn’t know about Charles Darwin.

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Darwin Shared a Birthday With Abraham Lincoln Although Lincoln and Darwin were both born on February 12, 1809, their lives were very different. While America’s 16th president was born in a log cabin in the Kentucky wilderness, Darwin was born in a grand Georgian house in Shrewsbury, England, to a wealthy family. While one went on to become president of the United States, the other became the scientist who developed the famous theory about evolution.

Darwin Waited Over 20 Years To Publish His Work Darwin collected his research during his voyage around the world on the HMS Beagle over a five-year period. Because his theory on natural selection and evolution would have been considered radical, he waited until 1858 to present it, which was about the same time as Alfred Russel Wallace, a British naturalist, who had come up with a similar idea. Darwin’s famous work, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, was published the following year.

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He Didn’t Coin The Phrase “Survival Of The Fittest.” Although the phrase “survival of the fittest”  is associated with Darwin’s theory of natural selection, it was  actually first used by English philosopher Herbert Spencer in his 1864 “Principles of Biology” to connect his economic and sociological theories with Darwin’s biological concepts. Darwin first adopted the phrase in his fifth edition of “The Origin of Species,” published in 1869, by writing of natural selection that “the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the survival of the fittest is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient.”

Darwin’s Likeness Appeared on British Currency For eighteen years, a portrait of a bearded Charles Darwin appeared on the back of the British 10-pound note along with an image of HMS Beagle, a magnifying lens and flora and fauna seen on his travels. The Bank of England issued the £10 note from 2000 to 2018. 

Several Mountains Are Named After Him In 1834, for Darwin's twenty-fifth birthday, Captain FitzRoy named the tallest peak in Tierra del Fuego, Mount Darwin. A year earlier, Darwin and his shipmates were on a small island in the Tierra del Fuego archipelago, when a huge mass of ice fell from the face of a glacier and plunged into the ocean, causing a huge wave. Darwin ran to the shore and saved the ship's boats from being swept away. For saving everyone from being marooned, FitzRoy named the area Darwin Sound. And as if one mountain isn't enough, Darwin had three more named after him: There are three additional Darwin Mountains located in California, Tasmania, and Antarctica.