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Tuesday
Feb122013

Charles Darwin Day

Most know today is Pancake Day but not everyone knows that February 12th is also Darwin’s Day – a celebration of science, humanity, and Charles Darwin’s birthday. Charles Darwin, most famously known for his theory of evolution and the author of “On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection,” was born February 12, 1809 in Shrewsbury, England.


Image Courtesy of Derek Keats

In 1831, Darwin joined a five year scientific mission aboard the HMS Beagle to travel to the Galapagos Islands to confirm his evolution theories. Darwin’s book was extremely controversial because of the fact it went against religious views of how we came to be created.

Darwin Day first started in 1980 when the Salem College held a Darwin Festival in 1980 at Salem College. The Stanford University Humanist Community went on to hold another event in 1995. The Darwin Day Program was founded in 2000 and has grown to an international series of events to celebrate the great amount of scientific knowledge around today.

Countries across the world from America to Iran will hold lectures inspired by the research first carried out by Darwin. Red Bank Charter School of Red Bank, New Jersey, is hosting “Designer Babies: What Darwin Couldn’t Predict which will discuss the controversy of designer babies, genetic diagnosis, and the ethical implications of these technologies.

Image Courtesy of Derek Keats

Darwin’s trip to the Galapagos Islands provided us with details of many species and was the first sign of the high levels of biodiversity in the area. Today we continue to study the varying differences between creatures in important biodiversity hotspots. Research continues to show how animals evolve to be able to adapt to changes in the world around them. This is important because of the effect human behaviour has had on the natural world. Deforestation and climate change causes habitats to alter and natural food to be in shorter supply. Although the research shows us the unique and interesting ways animals can to evolve; it is important to know whether animals will continue to survive once their habitats have been altered or destroyed and what we can do to help them.

Frontier helps to study these changes and their effects. In Madagascar, projects were set up to monitor the creatures that live in forest areas which have been cleared at various times in the past. In Madagascar studies have also been carried out into the effect human contact has on the lemurs that live in the forests frequented by local villagers. These studies continue to bring back interesting results which can then be used to help conserve wildlife across the world.

Frontier offer a variety of Wildlife Conservation projects across the world in countries such as Tanzania, Madagascar, Cambodia as well as the Galapagos Islands which Darwin visited. 

By Jenny Collins