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Charles Darwin - the father of evolutionary biology

Video clip synopsis – Dr Maryanne Demasi is a science journalist on the ABC science program Catalyst. In this clip she introduces us to the ‘scientific giant’, Charles Darwin.
Year of production - 2009
Duration - 1min 23sec
Tags - Charles Darwin, science, see all tags


Charles Darwin - the father of evolutionary biology

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About the Video Clip


Charles Darwin – the father of evolutionary biology was recorded at the Australian National Maritime Museum as it prepared for its special exhibition Charles Darwin — voyages and ideas that shook the world in March 2009.

Charles Darwin – the father of evolutionary biology is on the website Charles Darwin – The Australian Connection produced in 2009 by Ryebuck Media in association with the Australian National Maritime Museum for Screen Australia Digital Learning. The website takes us on an adventure to explore the role Australia played in shaping Charles Darwin’s theories.

The exhibition and the website were produced to coincide with the 150th anniversary of the publication of Darwin’s ‘On the Origin of Species’.

Dr Maryanne Demasi is a research scientist who works as a science journalist on the ABC program Catalyst.

Background Information


At the age of 22 Charles Darwin seemed destined to become a clergyman when in 1831 he was given an opportunity to sail to South America on the small survey vessel HMS Beagle. The five year voyage exposed the young Darwin to the stunning nature of the world, triggering ideas that would come to explain the origin of life on earth and shake society to its core. The Beagle voyage proved the seminal event in Charles Darwin’s career, setting him on a path to become the most famous naturalist of the modern era.

Darwin’s account of the Beagle voyage inspired other naturalists to join survey expeditions exploring the world. Two of these, Joseph Hooker and Thomas Huxley were influenced by their experiences in Australia and went on to become Darwin’s staunchest supporters during the evolution debate and pivotal figures in the world of 19th century science.

Classroom Activities


Before watching the clip

  1. Brainstorm to gather information and ideas about Charles Darwin.
  2. Now categorise the information and ideas into four headings:
    1. Charles Darwin the man
    2. Charles Darwin the scientist
    3. Darwin’s main contribution to scientific knowledge
    4. Why Charles Darwin is considered an important figure.

After watching the clip

  1. Look back at the information and ideas you listed above:
    1. What would you now add?
    2. What would you change?
    3. What aspects do you need to know more about?
  2. What has surprised you most about Darwin?
  3. Why do you think his ideas are still relevant today?

Following up a ‘big idea’

Research to find out how people reacted to Darwin’s ideas, and how they changed the way many people thought about the origins of the world.

Further Resources


Nora Barlow (ed), The autobiography of Charles Darwin 1809–1882, New York, WW Norton & Company, 2005

Charles Darwin, Voyage of the Beagle, London. Penguin, 1989

F.W. Nicholas and J.M. Nicholas, Charles Darwin in Australia, Port Melbourne, Cambridge University Press, 2002

Iain McCalman & Nigel Erskine (eds), In the wake of the Beagle: science in the southern oceans from the age of Darwin, Sydney, UNSW Press, 2009

Iain McCalman, Darwin’s armada: how four voyagers to Australasia won the battle for evolution and changed the world, 
Sydney, Viking, 2009

David Quammen (ed), Charles Darwin: On the origin of species, illustrated edition, New York, Sterling, 2008

Julie Simpkin (ed), Charles Darwin: An Australian Selection, Canberra, National Museum of Australia Press, 2008

The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online

About Darwin

Natural History Museum – Darwin200

American Museum of Natural History – Darwin

Natural History Museum – Darwin, Big Idea, Big Exhibition