Page 1
Page 2
Page 3
Page 4
Page 5
Page 6
Page 7
Page 8
Page 9
Page 10
Page 11
Page 12
Page 13
Page 14
Page 15
Page 16
Page 17
Page 18
Page 19
Page 20
Page 21
Page 22
Page 23
Page 24
Page 25
Page 26
Page 27
Page 28
Page 29
Page 30
Page 31
Page 32
Page 33
Page 34
Page 35
Page 36
Page 37
Page 38
Page 39
Page 40
Page 41
Page 42
Page 43
Page 44
Page 45
Page 46
Page 47
Page 48
Page 49
Page 50
Page 51
Page 52
Page 53
Page 54
took his first steps in South America. For the next year the Beagle made its way down the coast conducting surveys taking depth soundings and drawing charts while Darwin collected insects seashells and rocks. He did not put the pieces together until he returned to England but it was therein the heart of South Americathat Darwin made his first important discoveries. Lost in the brilliance of Brazils rain forest surrounded by parrots butterflies and orchids Darwin saw not only the incredible luxuriance and diversity of the Amazon but also the harsh reality of life within it. He watched a predatory wasp hunt down kill and drag off a spidera fight to the death between two tiny monsters a stark example of natures first law kill or be killed. Everywhere he looked was a ruthless struggle for survival vampire bats attacked horses in the dead of night an unstoppable column of army ants triggered panic throughout the forest. It was Darwins first real glimpse of the never-ending battle between the hunters and the hunted. In September at Baha Blanca south of Rio de Janeiro Darwin excavated several huge skeletons the remains of giant prehistoric beasts. One was a giant sloth similar to the present-day slothbut much biggerand there were also bones of a giant armadillo. Darwin marveled at their close resemblance to modern species. He would later write in his Journal This wonderful relationship in the same continent between the dead and the living will I have no doubt hereafter throw more light on the appearance of organic beings on our earth and their disappearance from it than any other class of facts. In October the ship returned to Montevideo where Darwin received the second volume of Charles Lyells Principles of Geology. Darwin had read volume one but volume two conveyed a more profound message. Lyell argued that Earth was much older than most people imagined and that the same geological processes observed in modern times had been at work for millions of years. He said the world had come about through causes now in operation not catastrophic events like the biblical flood. In fact by the 1830s all geologists accepted that the world was very ancient but no one could guess just how old. In his second volume Lyell argued that species became extinct because they no longer fit their environments as the world changed. Lyell was not an evolutionist but his observations must have made Darwin think If there was an explanation why species disappeared there must be one for how they came about in the first place. Mylodon robustus. From Richard Owens work on extinct sloths based partly on Darwins discoveries in South America. 16