Beyond the Book: Background information when reading Darwin's Armada

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Darwin's Armada

Four Voyages and the Battle for the Theory of Evolution

by Iain McCalman

Darwin's Armada
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  • First Published:
    Aug 2009, 432 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2010, 432 pages

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Book Reviewed by:
Kim Kovacs

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Beyond the Book

Evolutionary Ideas Before Darwin
The theory of evolution states that all life is related and has descended from a common ancestor; complex creatures evolve over a long period of time from simpler organisms. Evolution is not concerned with the origin of Earth or of the Universe, but attempts to explain why different living things have developed and diversified since life first appeared on Earth.

Evolutionary thought had been around for centuries before Charles Darwin's time; the first person known to have speculated on the topic was the Greek philosopher Anaximander in the 6th century BCE. Similar pre-evolutionary ideas appeared across Greece, Rome, China, and throughout the Arab world into the Middle Ages. German philosopher Immanuel Kant (1724-1804) and Swedish naturalist Carolus Linnaeus (1707-1778) espoused concepts that anticipated evolution in the mid-1700s. Erasmus Darwin (1731-1802), Charles's grandfather, formulated one of the first formal theories on ...

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