Tuesday 6 January 2009

Darwin and the Pink 'Un

This pink iguana is in the news - a timely discovery to coincide with the bicentenary of the birth of Charles Darwin, who in his explorations of the Galapagos managed to miss the pink 'un. I've been listening to Radio 4's In Our Time series on Darwin (running daily, 9am and 9.30pm) and it's been quite illuminating. I didn't know until today that Darwin paid no attention to those vari-beaked finches that are the poster birds of natural selection. He left most of the bird-shooting-and-packing side of things (shooting being of course the only way to obtain specimens to study) to his manservant, as Darwin had limited expertise in ornithology and was primarily interested in the rocks. However, the local species of mockingbirds - more noticeable than the finches - and the even more noticeable giant tortoises (which Darwin was happy to eat) got him thinking... The rest is history - and it will be all over the BBC like a rash all this year (it's also the sesquicentenary of the publication of Origin of Species), but so far it's been good.

1 comment:

  1. I love the idea that one of Charles Darwin's great-grandparents was a pre-eminent potter and another was a leading philosopher. What fertile ground for an enquiring mind to take nourishment from. Here in Cambridge we are about to enter a year of Darwin-mania, which is a very Good Thing and it coincides nicely with the University's 800th Anniversary celebrations. As civilization crumbles around us it is good to know that there are still some things that are worth getting excited about (albeit in a very Cambridge low-key sort of way).