Charles Darwin experiments | Charles Darwin's Theory of Evolution by natural selection

Charles Darwin experiments

Charles Darwin's pigeons

Fancy pigeon varietiesFancy pigeon varieties, created by breeding birds with particular characteristics. Darwin used this process of artificial selection as an analogy for natural selection. © Jean Michel Labat /

Artificial selection

Fancy pigeon breeders have created hundreds of varieties that look dramatically different to wild pigeons. Some have long legs, others very short beaks. Some have fan tails, others lots of feathers around their feet. But they all come from one species, Columbia livia.

Darwin was fascinated by how one species could be manipulated to such extremes. From his travels on HMS Beagle, Darwin suspected that the environment might naturally manipulate species, causing them to change over time, but he couldn't find a means to explore this effectively in the wild.

Experimenting with artificial selection in pigeons gave him a way to study how far a species could change.

The similarity between artificial selection and natural selection is at the heart of Darwin's explanation of evolution in his revolutionary book On the Origin of Species. And pigeons are the first creatures discussed in detail.

Preparing to shock the world

Even after 20 years of research, Darwin was worried about how his theory of how evolution worked would be received. It challenged the widely-held belief that God created the world. Not only that, but his beloved wife was deeply religious. He was also a shy man who preferred private study to public debates.

Close-up of the label on a pigeon specimen donated to the Museum by Charles DarwinDarwin finally published On the Origin of Species in 1859. Earlier that year he wrote to William Tegetmeier, his main adviser on fancy pigeon breeding, telling him to expect a copy in the post as soon as it was published. That valuable first edition is also part of the Museum's collections.

Close-up of the original label on a pigeon specimen Charles Darwin gave to the Museum.

Insights into Darwin's research

After Darwin completed his breeding experiments, he gave all 120 of his pigeon specimens to the Museum. Some had been bred by him, others sent to him by fellow naturalists around the world.

Unlike the birds Darwin collected on his earlier Beagle voyage, most of these pigeons still have his original labels. Museum scientists are using them to link the specimens back to Darwin's original notes, revealing exciting insights into his research.

The Galapagos finches that Darwin collected on the Beagle voyage may be more famous, but these pigeons were more significant to his work.

Hyperion Book CH The Humblebee Hunter: Inspired by the Life and Experiments of Charles Darwin and His Children
Book (Hyperion Book CH)

The Miller-Urey experiment continues

by sdhserytsdtdtgb

Several additional amino acids are found in vials from the 1953 Miller-Urey experiment that probed the origin of life:
In 2008, a group of scientists examined 11 vials left over from Miller's experiments of the early 1950s. In addition to the classic experiment, reminiscent of Charles Darwin's envisioned "warm little pond", Miller had also performed more experiments which had never been analysed, including one with conditions similar to those of volcanic eruptions. This experiment had a nozzle spraying a jet of steam at the spark discharge. By using high-performance liquid chromatography and mass spectrometry, the group found more organic molecules than Miller had

And P.3

by ()

71. The Manifesto of the Communist Party, Karl Marx and Friedrich Engels
72. "Civil Disobedience," Henry David Thoreau
73. The Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, Charles Darwin
74. On Liberty, John Stuart Mill
75. First Principles, Herbert Spencer
76. "Experiments with Plant Hybrids," Gregor Mendel
77. War and Peace, Leo Tolstoy
78. Treatise on Electricity and Magnetism, James Clerk Maxwell
79. Thus Spake Zarathustra, Friedrich Nietzsche
80. The Interpretation of Dreams, Sigmund Freud

You might also like

London and New York, Macmillan and Co., 1881. On the Velocity of Light - Small statement of Albert A. Michelson on the experiments of Young and Forbes. In: NATURE. A Weekly Illustrated Journal of Science, Volume XXIV. May 1881 to October 1881. [The Volume also containing a contribution by Charles Darwin: On the Work of Worms / Howard Grubb's Great Vienna Telescope / etc. .
Book (London and New York, Macmillan and Co., 1881.)
Nabu Press Experiments Establishing A Criterion Between Mucaginous And Purulent Matter. And An Account Of The Retrograde Motions Of The Absorbent Vessels Of Animal Bodies In Some Diseases (Danish Edition)
Book (Nabu Press)
Kessinger Publishing, LLC Experiments Establishing A Criterion Between Mucaginous And Purulent Matter (1780)
Book (Kessinger Publishing, LLC)
Related Posts