A new book recounts how discovering extinct species influenced his theory of evolution
Smithsonian Books, $19.95
Charles Darwin famously derived his theory of evolution from observations he made of species and their geographic distributions during his five-year voyage around the world on the H.M.S. Beagle. But in the introduction of On the Origin of Species, the naturalist also cites another influence: the thousands of fossils that he collected on that trip. Darwin’s Fossils is paleobiologist Adrian Lister’s account of that little-appreciated foundation of evolutionary theory.
While sailors on board the Beagle charted the coastal waters of South America (the actual purpose of the expedition), Darwin explored the shore and rambled inland on excursions that sometimes lasted weeks.