Time to Eat the Dogs

A Podcast About Science, History, and Exploration

Digital Archive: Charles Darwin

Grave, sober Darwin. The melancholic Santa, staring out at us as if we were vandalizing his sleigh. This is the Darwin we remember: the tired revolutionary, the Devil’s Chaplin, a man so afflicted by ailments that he was a prisoner of Down House where he lived. Yet Darwin’s story — and the revolution he set off — grows out of his experiences as a youthful explorer, a roving naturalist aboard HMS Beagle.

HMS Beagle by John Chancellor

We already know about the Galapagos Islands, an iconic place in the story of evolution. But the voyage of the Beagle offered Darwin many experiences that raised questions: why did the giant fossil remains of South America resemble species still living there? Why would God create two separate species of flightless birds, the Rhea and the Ostrich, on separate continents instead of just one? So much has been said about Darwin (and some of it, especially by Janet Browne, has been said so well) that I don’t feel like saying more.


Except that there is a website that every student of exploration should know about: The Complete Works of Charles Darwin Online. It is not simply that you can read virtually every published word that spilled from His Most Worthy Naturalist’s pen (and most of the unpublished words too), but also that you can see how Darwin’s life and work were closely linked to the work of other scientist-explorers. Here are hundreds of notes, letters, and references to Alexander von Humboldt (South America), Joseph Dalton Hooker (Himalayas), Thomas Huxley (New Guinea and Australia), and Alfred Russell Wallace (Malay Archipelago). If you find yourself moved, (perhaps mutated) by the experience, your next click should be on The Dispersal of Darwin, a blog for fans, scholars, and committed Darwinistas.

The 20th century biological revolution which was ushered in by Watson and Crick (and, it should be remembered, Rosiland Franklin) have given us a new image of the biologist as lab scientist, complete with black rimmed glasses and pocket protector.

Watson and Crick: Smart, Not Outdoorsy

Let us not forget that the 19th century revolutionaries were a stunningly itinerant bunch, surveying species and ecosystems all over the globe. Darwin, in particular, was not afraid to get his boots dirty. We should remember this when we see images of the shuffling grand old man of science.

See also Darwin in Four Minutes

Visit the sites:




  Michael D. Barton, FCD wrote @

Thanks, Michael, for the link! I recently discovered your blog as well…

Other Darwin sites all should be aware of:

Darwin Correspondence Project:

The HMS Beagle Project:
Blog: http://thebeagleproject.blogspot.com/

The Friends of Charles Darwin:
Blog: http://darwin.gruts.com/weblog/

  Susan Lingle wrote @


I am organizing events for Darwin Day at the Univ of Winnipeg (Manitoba, Canada). We are hosting two public seminars by members of our department (biology) and a student-organized game show.

We would really like to use the “grave sober Darwin” photo on a small poster to advertise the event. Are you able to grant rights to that picture and, if so, can we obtain permission to use it for this purpose? We will advertise inside the university but also hope to draw a few people from the larger community.

Thank you!

Susan Lingle
Department of Biology
The University of Winnipeg

  darwinsbulldog wrote @

Hi Michael – In this post, could you change the link to DoD to my new URL?

  JR wrote @

I love your blog’s title and design. And I appreciate your bringing up the outsdoorsy adventurousness of the 19th-century naturalists. I’m trying to be more outsdoorsy myself, and usually failing at it, but there’s definitely something to be said for getting one’s boots dirty.

  Michael Robinson wrote @

Thanks JR. Yes outdoorsy is something that I shoot for, and usually miss, during the academic year. That’s why they give academics summers off: so they don’t waste away entirely from living inside. Look forward to checking out your site!

  el blog del morsa » Charles Darwin 200 wrote @

[…] Fuente: Time to eat the dogs […]

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