Currently, there is a wonderful exhibit on display at the American Museum of Natural History. The exhibit covers the life of Darwin, his voyages around the world, his keen observations of various species and plants during his expedition, especially in the islands of Galapagos, and his return back to England after five years of sailing and the continuation of scientific research and even after connecting the dots on the mysteries of evolution, how he held back publishing the great theory on evolution for twenty one years.
Live Galapagos Tortoise on display at the entrance of the Darwin Exhibit
Charles Darwin was born in England in 1809. General prevailing consensus during those days was that the Earth was created about 4,000 B.C. That type of relatively short time span for the age of the planet earth, made it non comprehensible for any one to think of a process where the vast multitude of species and creatures that inhibit today?s earth could have originally come from a few organisms. By traditional school standards, young Darwin was considered to be a poor student.
Darwin quits medical school at 18 years old and transfers to Cambridge, where he studies to become a clergyman. Then at age 22, he got a unique opportunity to sail around the world on royal ship HMS Beagle. He was the ship?s naturalist, whose job was to collect samples and take notes and document the unique species of various places. As a crewmember of this expedition, he traveled the jungles of Brazil and the coast of Argentina, collecting thousands of fossils, plants, and animals. After four years of setting sail, HMS Beagle arrived in the Galapagos Islands. Galapagos is about 600 miles off the coast of Ecuador in South America. They are isolated islands where the variety of species of animals, specially the different shapes and sizes and colors within the same family of species gave Darwin a great opportunity to use his power of observation and thinking to develop the Theory of evolution.
At that time, Darwin called it “the transmutation of species”. After returning to England in 1836, after nearly five years at sea, Darwin continues his work on the grand theory. During those days, the British had mastery over the seas and the British ships were sailing all around the world. So, the materials he sent to England were all received in good shape and Darwin had already become famous in England in the scientific community. He did not even know, whether the materials had arrived safely or simply lost in transportation.
Big Horn Sheep
After long years of dedicated work, Darwin finally publishes the book “On the Origin of Species” in 1859, which soon made him world famous and the rest is history in Biological sciences.
The exhibit is superbly crafted to illustrate the life of Darwin as well as to explain the science of evolution. There are actual materials of his working tools, labs and notebooks. Also, some live animals such as the Galapagos tortoise (photograph above) shown here as well as large green iguanas, horned frogs, etc.
The exhibit in New York will run until August ?and then travels to Boston, Chicago and Toronto and finally arrives in London by 2009, in time for the celebration of the bicentenary of Darwin?s birth as well as the 150th anniversary of the publication of “On the Origin of Species”.
Those who have interest in the natural sciences and who live in the regions of these big cities might want to visit this superb Exhibit. Those who do not have that facility could have a virtual tour by visiting the following website. Hope you enjoy it and find it rewarding.
American Museum of Natural History is one among the great museums of the world. In addition to all the wonderful treasures it possesses and displays, it is known for the beautiful dioramas, with real life looking depictions of the animals in their natural setting. Below are a few sample photographs of these dioramas.
The picture of the Galapagos tortoise is part of the Darwin exhibit. All other pictures are dioramas in various parts of the museum.
Author: J.M. Bhandary- USA