Charles Darwin: On the origin of species
Sp Coll 650
Published in 1859, this is a first edition of Charles Darwin's famous treatise on evolution and natural selection. It has been described as the most influential work of the Nineteenth Century. The book was a culmination of over twenty years of experiments and study, and was originally published as an abstract to Darwin's final results, which he did not believe would be ready before 1861. The work was purposely written in a non-scientific way, so as to make the findings as widely available as possible; it is easily understood by those with little or no technical knowledge of the theories of evolution. It was highly controversial at its time of publication as it contradicted the commonly held religious beliefs that all species were created distinctly from each other and by a greater power than man. Darwin himself openly acknowledges in his introduction that he himself used to entertain such views, until his research began to create other possibilities behind the origin of species; instead he states that he is now 'fully convinced that species are not immutable; but that those belonging to what are called the same genera are lineal descendants of some other and generally extinct species, in the same manner as the acknowledged varieties of any one species are the descendants of that species.'
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