The genius of Darwin (left), the way in which he suddenly turned all of biology upside down in 1859 with the publication of the Origin of Species, can sometimes give the misleading impression that the theory of evolution sprang from his forehead fully formed without any precedent in scientific history.
But as earlier chapters in this history have shown, the raw material for Darwin's theory had been known for decades.
But the world is not overrun with them, or any other species, because they cannot reproduce to their full potential. They are vulnerable to droughts and cold winters and other environmental assaults.
And their food supply, like that of a nation, is not infinite.
Thomas Malthus published a book in 1797 called Essay on the Principle of Population in which he warned his fellow Englishmen that most policies designed to help the poor were doomed because of the relentless pressure of population growth.
A nation could easily double its population in a few decades, leading to famine and misery for all.
Animals, Adaptation, and the Galpagos Islands Collect the Clues Make the Match Unlock the Mystery Interview With Paleontologist Dr.
A visit to the Galapagos Islands in 1835 helped Darwin formulate his ideas on natural selection.
Yet it took time for its full argument to take hold.
Within a few decades, most scientists accepted that evolution and the descent of species from common ancestors were real.