September 15, 1835 — Charles Darwin and the H.M.S. Beagl reached the Galapagos Islands today. His five-year voyage is legendary, as insights gained on his trip to exotic places greatly influenced his masterwork, Origin of Species.
Of course, Darwin didn’t actually formulate his theory of evolution while sailing around the world aboard the Royal Navy ship. But the exotic plants and animals he encountered challenged his thinking and led him to consider scientific evidence in new ways.
H.M.S. Beagle actually sailed on a lengthy scientific mission several years before Darwin came into the picture. A warship carrying 10 cannons, it sailed in 1826 to explore the coastline of South America. The ship had an unfortunate episode when its captain sank into a depression, perhaps caused by the isolation of the voyage, and committed suicide.
Words of Wisdom
It is not the strongest of the species that survive, nor the most intelligent, but the one most responsive to change.