CHARLES DARWIN LIFE: LIKENESSES AND DIFFERENCES
ON THE 27TH OF DECEMBER 1831 His Majesty's Ship Beagle, a ten-gun brig, sailed from Devonport. She was under orders to complete a survey of Patagonia and Tierra del Fuego and to carry a chain of chronometrical measurements around the world.
This she did.
But the five-year voyage of the Beagle round South America, across the South Seas, round the Cape of Good Hope, and back to England was to accomplish a far greater mission than the charting of unknown waters. This voyage was to chart a new and world-upsetting answer to one of the most elemental of all unknowns: how did man and all the teeming kinds of life around him originate?
On board the Beagle was a young naturalist, twenty-two years old, named Charles Darwin. He was a born collector suddenly presented with the whole world in which to collect. More than this, he had an amazingly discerning eye not only for detail, but for the total meanings, which elude most men.
As the Beagle slowly made her way around the world, he was struck by the curious likenesses and the curious dissimilarities of the plants, the animals, the insects, the fish, the shells, the fossils, and the geological specimens he omnivorously gathered. The same puzzling relationships were there whether they came from the depths of the Brazilian forest, from the bleak plains of Patagonia, from the high slopes of the Andes, from continental shores, or from tiny mid-ocean islands.