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 Monday, 14 October, 2002, 16:01 GMT 17:01 UK
Darwin to receive Scots honour
Edinburgh University
The evolution theorist attended Edinburgh University
Scotland's capital city is finalising plans to honour biologist Charles Darwin.

A plaque will be unveiled in memory of the scientist who developed the revolutionary theory of natural selection.

Darwin studied medicine at Edinburgh University but quit his course after just 18 months.

The memorial, designed by Vincent Butler of the Edinburgh College of Art, will include a cast head of Darwin as he would have looked as a student.

The plaque will be unveiled on 22 November at the rear entrance to the Royal Museum, on the site of Darwin's old student accommodation.

The ceremony is being organised by Edinburgh University and the National Museums of Scotland.

It will be followed by a free half-day public seminar featuring Darwin experts.

The lecture will include a speech from Darwin biographer Dr James Moore.

University 'drop-out'

Professor Seth Grant, an expert in molecular neuroscience at the university, came across Darwin's link to Edinburgh in a biography.

He said: "The book explained that he had lived in Lothian Street and when I realised there was nothing in the city for him I thought something had to be done.

"He did drop out of university but there are lots of plaques around for people who never went to university.

"Besides, if you read the biography it highlights the fact that he was influenced by the time he spent in Edinburgh.

"If it were not for the fact that he came here as a 16-year-old one might question how far he would have got."

Prof Grant said Darwin was one of the "most important" scientific thinkers of the 19th century.

Famous book

Darwin was born in 1809 in Shrewsbury and went to Cambridge University to become a Church of England clergyman after quitting Edinburgh.

The Galapagos Islands, famed for its giant tortoises, is where Darwin came up with his theory of evolution by natural selection.

He became an unpaid naturalist in 1831 on the HMS Beagle for a five-year scientific expedition to South America.

His research formed the basis of his famous book, On the Origin of Species by Means of Natural Selection, published in 1859.

He later lived with his wife and children in the village of Downe, near London. Darwin died on 19 April, 1882, and was buried in Westminster Abbey.

There was strong resistance to Darwinian thinking but nowadays the theory of evolution is at the centre of mainstream science.

See also:

27 Aug 02 | Science/Nature
24 Sep 02 | Science/Nature
29 May 01 | Science/Nature
24 Sep 00 | Science/Nature
Links to more Scotland stories are at the foot of the page.


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