MARCH - Events sorted by day of the month:

March 01 1833
H.M.S. Beagle arrived at the Falkland Islands at Port Louis. The British Navy had just taken over the islands from Argentina last January. A lot of surveying work was done here. Darwin was intrigued by the fossils on the islands and decided to do comparative studies between all the fossils, plants and animals he collected during the voyage.

March 02 1841
Anne Elizabeth Darwin was born.

March 06 1836
The Beagle arrived at King George's Sound at the town of Albany, about 250 miles south-east of Perth, Australia. They remained there for eight days, and Darwin found the place a most absolute bore. He went on a few inland excursions, but was not very impressed with the landscape.

March 06 1837
Darwin left Cambridge and moved in with his brother in London. Over the next few weeks his brother, Erasmus, introduced him to London's more influential scientific elite's. One of these elite's was Charles Babbage, the inventor of the "difference engine" - the first calculating machine, and forerunner of modern computers. Babbage introduced Charles Darwin to the idea that everything in nature worked according to specific laws. This idea prompted Darwin to seek out the natural laws which governed the transmutation of species.

March 07 1842
At long last Darwin completed his Coral Reefs book. He then went to Shrewsbury, hoping the escape from London would do his health some good. His plan was not successful, however.

March 08 1849
An old Beagle companion, Bartholomew Sulivan, recommended to Darwin that he should try Dr. James Gully's Water Cure spa as a treatment for his illness. The theory behind taking the water cure was that the immersion of one's body in cold water drew the blood away from the inflamed nerves of the stomach, thus calming the nerves and eliminating any problems in that area. Darwin studied up on the subject and thought it was pure nonsense, but he went anyway. The whole family packed their bags and moved up to Great Malvern for a two month stay. They took rooms at The Lodge on Worcester Road just outside of town. Darwin was put on a daily routine that went as follows: get up early in the morning for a walk, have breakfast, get scrubbed with a cold wet towel for a short time, walk for twenty minutes and wear a cold wet towel compress all day long. After a short afternoon dinner, take a nap, get another cold water bath and scrubbing, and then go for another walk, finishing off with supper at 6:00. He also took homeopathic medicines, of which Darwin had no faith in what-so-ever.

March 12 1835
Darwin worked out another Andes expedition while in the town of Santiago. The Beagle returned south to Concepcion and was engaged the next few months in investigating the effects of the earthquake.

March 14 1835
At 4:00 AM Darwin started out on his Andes expedition with a Spanish speaking guide and many mules to carry provisions. He had doubts about making it to the top of the Andes due to snow blocking the mountain passes. He headed towards the Portillo Pass; one of the two clear routes to the Andes during this time of the year.

March 24 1830
Darwin passed his "little go" exam at Cambridge. He was tested on translating Greek and Latin text (barely squeaked by), questions on the gospels (did fairly well with this), and on Paley's Evidences of Christianity (he shined here, having a great fondness for Paley's logic and simple elegance).

March 24 1851
Annie's illness flared up again, and Darwin took his daughter to stay at Gully's Water Cure spa in Great Malvern. They stayed at Montreal House on Worcester Road. Initial treatment seemed to do much good for her.

March 27 1827
Darwin gave his first scientific speech at a meeting of the Plinian Society. The subject was his discovery that the larva of sea-mats can swim, and that the tiny black specks inside old oyster shells were skate leech eggs. Not the most earth shattering discovery, but it was a start for Darwin.

March 28 1838
There was a new curiosity at the London Zoo and Darwin went out to have a look. It was an orangutan named Jenny. He was fascinated by this orangutan and spent many an hour observing it. Jenny, it seemed, displayed emotions in the same manner as a human child. Darwin was fascinated!

Events some time during this month:

March & April 1831
Darwin started thinking about settling down in a nice countryside parish as a clergyman with ample time to ramble about the countryside collecting bugs and plants. He read Paley's "Natural Theology," Sir John Herschel's book, "Preliminary Discourse on the Study of Natural Philosophy" and gained a burning zeal for science. Another book he read had a strong influence on his life; it was Alexander von Humboldt's 7-vol. "Personal Narrative" of his South America adventures. Now Darwin began dreaming about the glorious tropical rain forests. Revd. Henslow suggested that he should go off and explore in the tropics for a short time.

March (early) 1871
"Descent of Man" was published. The two volume set was reasonably priced at just twenty-four shillings. It was an immediate success just like "Origin of Species". Unlike Origin, however, Descent of Man produced hardly any outcries from the church, and very few criticisms from fellow naturalists. The critiques that did surface were fairly light - admitting that humans had evolved to some degree, but standing firm on the belief that the soul of man was divinely created.

March (late) 1837
For the past few months John Gould, an ornithologist at the London Zoo Museum, had been examining the birds Darwin brought back from the Galapagos Islands. Gould quickly discovered that the birds were not finches, blackbirds, wrens, and gross beaks as Darwin thought, but were in fact all distinct species of finches. Upon further examination Gould saw that the major distinction between the finches was the shape of their beaks. Darwin now had an exciting mystery on his hands. How did an original population of finches from the mainland migrate to the Galapagos and then change into several species? Unfortunately, Darwin did a very poor labeling job on the birds for he did not think that noting what island they were found on was important. Over the next few months he got in touch with other Beagle crew members who had also collected birds at the Galapagos, and luckily many of them had labeled which island their birds were taken from. Armed with his new finch location data, Darwin saw that each species existed its own island, somehow filling some kind of island niche.

March (late) 1848
Darwin discovered a very odd barnacle in which the female of the species had microscopic male counterparts which acted as parasites attached to the female. Darwin was fascinated by this curious union. How did it come to be?

March (mid) 1837
Darwin moved out of his brother's place and took up residence nearby in 36 Great Marlborough Street. Syms Covington stayed on as his servant. During this month Darwin began to have doubts about the idea of new species coming about by a series of miraculous creations, and he was starting to question Paley's "argument from design" thesis. Based on his observations during the Beagle voyage, Darwin saw that some new theory of speciation was needed. This was to become his quest, to discover the process by which new species come to exist.

March (mid) 1838
He started his "C" notebook which focused mainly on transmutation, the distribution of species, the relation between habit and structure, and behavioral adaptations. The manner in which Darwin gathered information for this notebook was rather clever. He fired off a list of questions to pigeon breeders, dog breeders, experts on animal husbandry, and a host of other animal experts. The questions centered on how they bred animals and the results they got from different kinds of crosses. In a time when the subject of variation of species was taboo, this was a "harmless" way to gather information that may support the theories he was developing.

March (mid) 1859
Joseph Hooker spent a great deal of time reading over Darwin's

March to April 1847
Darwin was by this time continuously ill.

March 1845
Darwin purchased a 325 acre farm in Lincolnshire as an investment for about ú12,500. It was called Beesby Farm, and was located thirty miles directly east of Lincoln, about three miles north from the village of Alford.

March 1855
One of the mysteries Darwin thought a lot about was how species spread to other land masses - particularly islands like the Galapagos. One of the popular explanations at the time was the "sunken land bridge" hypothesis of Edward Forbes. Darwin had doubts about land bridges in the middle of the ocean, and set out to show that plants and animals could "float" their way to distant lands. He experimented with plant seeds, soaking them in sea water for up to months at a time, and then planted them. To the surprise of his fellow naturalists, nearly all of them germinated! He then corresponded with inhabitants of far off islands, asking them to examine the shoreline for any seeds or plants not native to the island. He was surprised to find that in some cases seed pods had floated thousands of miles across the ocean to the shores of distant islands. Darwin also recruited the help of British survey vessels - asking them if they ever noticed floating "land rafts" with animals on them, and this too was confirmed.

March 1858
By this time the chapter on natural selection was about 65% complete. The book had grown to ten chapters and Darwin feared it may end up being a huge volume that no one would ever take the time to read.