Happy Birthday, Charles!

Darwin Day

The cake is a lie, but evolution is not. Happy birthday Charles!

Fuck, I managed to miss Darwin Day: yesterday, 12 february 2012, was the 203rd anniversary of the birth of the man who unlocked the secret of life itself and thus basically invented modern biology and discovered our real place in the universe: Charles Robert Darwin. Zoologist, botanist, geologist, he wrote many milestones of natural history, the most important of course being On the Origin of Species by  Means of Natural Selection, published in 1859 after more than 20 years since Darwin had developed the idea of natural selection and gradual biological changes for the first time, during his fateful journey around the world on the Beagle. 20 years of rewritings, experiments and fear – fear of the power of his own idea, of how it could affect the scientific and religious views. Thank you, Charles.

As a special gift, enjoy this completely accurate and quite awesome video about Darwin’s life.


Friday’s Featured Organism: Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni

Lonesome George

"In my days, lady tortoises were much hotter than now..."

Most people who are interested in natural history probably have already heard of Lonesome George. Short version: as Darwin himself had noticed during his fateful journey around the world, each of the Galapagos islands had a different variety of Giant Tortoise, a wonderful example of speciation. Lonesome George , a roughly 100 years old male, is the last specimen of the Pinta island variety, Chelonoidis nigra abingdoni. Many attempts at making him reproduce with females of similar species and varieties have been made, but none has been successfull so far, and Ol’ George might one day die without leaving sons, and thus has become a sort of symbol of extremely endangered species.

Since we’re talking about tortoises, which are typically slowly moving animals, here’s an announcement: my blogging, which recently has slowed down in pace a little bit, will slow down even more for the month of december, because of University. So, if you’re one of the few people who read this, expect probably just the Friday’s Featured Organism updates, until Christmas at least. See ya soon.

Origin Reborn

As Jerry Coyne pointed out on his site, a natural-history artist is creating an illuminated version of On the Origin of Species.  It’s gonna be a though, lenghty work: she estimates that the job will be done in approximately 10 years. That’s a lot of dedication we’ve got here, and judging from what we can see now, the final result is gonna be awesome. You can also donate to the project, and get some goodies too.