Charles Darwin lived from 1809 – 1882. He was a naturalist, which means he studied the history of nature and animals. He is most remembered today for his writings that brought the theory or evolution to the attention of many people.
According to the theory of evolution, all living things can be traced back to a previous, slightly different form. When people say that some dinosaurs evolved into birds, they mean that over time, some dinosaurs changed and became more bird-like. They grew feathers, they got smaller, and they got lighter. Eventually these changed dinosaurs could fly!
Evolution is a slow process, often taking thousands of years to see any noticeable changes in living things.
Charles Darwin lived much of his life in England, but he took a pretty famous scientific voyage on a ship called the HMS Beagle from 1831 to 1836. Can you imagine being on a trip that long? The ship sailed around South America and the southern oceans. Darwin found different fossils, and saw how they were related to modern animals. He saw different animals competing with each other, like birds, and noticed that the strongest animals were the most likely to survive and pass their traits down to their children.
Two decades after his trip, he published a famous book called On the Origin of Species, which brought the theory of evolution to popular attention.
Not all people believe in evolution because it goes against some people’s religious beliefs. Some people believe that all animals and plants were created at the same time. According to evolution, the process actually took millions of years. Many people, especially people in the scientific community, agree with Darwin’s writings and theories.