When Did Charles Darwin Discover the Theory of Evolution?


Vincent White

Charles Darwin is one of the most renowned scientists in history, and his theory of evolution is a cornerstone of modern biology. But when exactly did Darwin discover this groundbreaking idea? Let’s delve into the timeline of events leading up to the publication of his famous book, “On the Origin of Species.”

The Early Years

Charles Darwin was born on February 12, 1809, in Shrewsbury, England. From a young age, he showed an interest in the natural world and often collected specimens on walks with his father.

In 1825, Darwin enrolled at the University of Edinburgh to study medicine, but he soon realized that it wasn’t his passion. He transferred to Christ’s College at the University of Cambridge to study theology and natural history.

The Voyage of the Beagle

After graduating from Cambridge in 1831, Darwin was offered a place on a five-year scientific expedition aboard the HMS Beagle. The purpose of the voyage was to map coastal areas and survey geology and natural history.

During this trip, Darwin observed various species and geological formations that challenged his previous beliefs about how life on Earth had come to be. He collected numerous specimens and took detailed notes on everything he saw.

The Galapagos Islands

One particular stop on the voyage proved to be especially significant – the Galapagos Islands. Here, Darwin observed unique species that had adapted to their specific environments in remarkable ways. For example, finches with different beak shapes had evolved to eat different types of food.

Darwin’s observations on this island would eventually lead him to formulate his theory of evolution by natural selection.

Publication of “On The Origin Of Species”

It wasn’t until years after returning from his voyage that Darwin began to fully develop his ideas about evolution. In 1858, he received a letter from fellow naturalist Alfred Russel Wallace, who had independently arrived at similar conclusions about natural selection.

This spurred Darwin to finally publish his own work on the subject. In 1859, “On the Origin of Species” was released to the public, laying out Darwin’s theory of evolution by natural selection.


So, when did Charles Darwin discover the theory of evolution? It was a long and gradual process that began with his early interest in natural history and culminated in the publication of his seminal work in 1859. Through careful observation and analysis, Darwin revolutionized our understanding of how life on Earth came to be.