Thursday, March 1, 2018

Reading Darwin: On the Origin of Species

It's World Book Day, so it's only right that this morning I finished Darwin's On the Origin of Species.

As with "Voyage of the Beagle", I listened to the work as an audiobook. I had read "Origin" (or, more completely, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, or the Preservation of Favoured Races in the Struggle for Life) in college, but of course that was years ago. I love the cadence of his writing, his repeated turns of phrase. But I also love hearing his tentative thoughts on just why the finches of the different Galapagos islands were different become scientifically sound.

Okay, with over a century of additional study we've learned that Darwin's sketched tree of life isn't accurate:

Not, I hasten to add, because evolution isn't real (sheesh!), but because there is even more crossbreeding between species than is commonly thought -- so discrete evolutionary branches aren't accurate.
... modern genetics has revealed that representing evolutionary history as a tree is misleading, with scientists saying a more realistic way to represent the origins and inter-relatedness of species would be an impenetrable thicket. Darwin himself also wrote about evolution and ecosystems as a "tangled bank". - The Guardian
But I don't care. I still can't wait to get stuck in to reading The Descent of Man later this year. Of course, before then I've got a big, meaty new project: reading Ulysses over 100 days!

While looking for a nice picture of Darwin for this blog post I came across this gorgeous artwork by Gremz, available for download. So good!

Happy to have another item from my #101in1001 project completed! And we're only 59 days in!

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