Evolution Day: the two historical and scientific events that make this a particularly “evolutionary” date

November 24 marks the World Evolution Day, because the publication of a book that changed not only the history of biology, but the world is remembered: “The origin of species” de Charles Darwin.

162 years ago the first edition of the book that founded modern evolutionary biology was published. Its original title is a bit longer than we know it: “On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favored races in the struggle for life”.

Despite this huge title, more common for specialized scientific texts, Darwin’s book became a best seller: the 1,200 copies of its first edition were sold almost immediately. Thus, a second edition of 3,000 copies had to go on sale just a couple of months later, in January 1860.

A long trip

There is no doubt about the scientific value of the book in which Darwin organized his conclusions on the evolution of living beings, based on the evidence he gathered in his travels around the world.

“The origin of species”, title with which it was published after its sixth edition, contained the observations that Charles Darwin made from his expedition trip around the world, in the British Royal Navy brig Beagle.

Darwin, like many naturalists of his day, embarked on a long journey around the world to make observations of nature.: the voyage of the Beagle took him along the coasts of Africa, Oceania and South America, between 1831 and 1836.

Although colleagues of his, such as the geologist Charles Lyell They pressured Darwin for a long time to publish his conclusions, this took as long as he considered necessary, so his work saw the light three decades after the conclusion of his trip.

His fellow scientists encouraged him to write it in the form of a scientific article, but Darwin wanted to write a book, to reach a wider audience, which he did in the end and contributed to its social significance.

But fame did not come alone: ​​Darwin and his theory of evolution, gathered many detractors. Not only did he receive insults and ridicule in the press, but there were also authors who wrote books to try to refute the arguments of evolution, using rather beliefs and ideas, when what the British naturalist showed were scientific evidence.

Lucy in the Sky with Diamonds

Part of the scientific evidence that supports the theory of evolution is the existence of fossils that show the changes that living beings on Earth have had.

And a very famous fossil also celebrates its birthday on November 24: Lucy, the fossilized skeleton of a female hominid, originally from Ethiopia.

Lucy was called that, because on the day of her discovery, November 24, 1974, the members of the expedition were listening to the success of the Beatles Lucy in The Sky with Diamonds. So the paleontologist Donald Johanson who participated in the discovery, it seemed appropriate to call this specimen of Australopithecus afarensis.

Of course Lucy is much older than 47 years after its discovery: its age is approximately 3.2 million years, which makes it one of the oldest ancestors of the genus Homo, to which we humans belong.

So without a doubt, November 24 is a good day for us to celebrate this Lucy, even if she is not in heaven with diamonds, and also Darwin and his ideas on evolution.

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