By Tania Lombrozo
This Sunday, Feb. 12, is Darwin Day, an international day of celebration commemorating the birth of Charles Darwin and his contributions to science.
It’s also an excuse for science- and evolution-themed events around the globe, and for all of us to take a moment to appreciate the value of science and the wonders of the natural world.
As you prepare to celebrate, here are a few things you might want to know about Darwin — some insights new and old to impress your friends and family.
1. Darwin developed the Theory of Evolution by Natural Selection. Studies consistently find that many Americans — including college students and even pre-service teachers — misunderstand critical features of how the process works. You can read through common misconceptions here, or review the key ingredients for natural selection — heritable variation that leads to differential reproduction — in this easy nursery-rhyme created for 13.7.
2. Darwin wasn’t only a meticulous observer of the natural world, he was also a careful reader and a diligent record-keeper when it came to his own habits. Beginning in 1838, Darwin kept a notebook in which he recorded the books he was reading. From 1837 to 1860, he reported reading 687 distinct works of English non-fiction. These years span an important period in the development of his thinking, from his return to England from the Galapagos Islands to the publication of On the Origin of Species.
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