The evolution will be digitised: Darwin’s Beagle records released online

17 Jul 2014

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A portrait of naturalist Charles Darwin from 1878. Image via Wikimedia Commons

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Charles Darwin’s written documentation about his five-year journey to and from the Galapagos Islands, which inspired his theory of evolution, has been made available online.

With the journey taking place almost 20 years prior to the publication of his book On the Origin of Species, Darwin spent most of his time writing reams of journal entries and scientific papers, as well as making drawings of the creatures he came across 178 years ago.

Posted on Darwin Online, the 400-plus volumes also showcased Darwin and his crew’s first encounters with the natives of lands that no European had ever encountered before, including writings and drawings of the tools and weapons they used.

map

A botanic map of New South Wales

According to Ars Technica, the entire library was stored in both Darwin’s bed and desk on board the Beagle during its voyage and comprised a total of more than 195,000 pages carefully transcribed by researchers at the University of Singapore. The process took more than two years, with the help of funding by the Singaporean government.

The books posted online were, in fact, left out of the collection that was originally returned to Britain and now with this inclusion, a significant gap in Darwin’s studies has been bridged.

Darwin

One of the creatures Darwin documented on his travels

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Colm Gorey is a journalist with Siliconrepublic.com

editorial@siliconrepublic.com