Thursday, September 23

Charles Darwin: the pioneering origin of life theory that the biologist scribbled in a letter 150 years ago

  • Michael Marshall*
  • BBC Future


The most primitive forms of life evolved into more complex organisms.

Charles Darwin had some pretty good ideas. The most famous is the theory of evolution by natural selection, which explains much of what we know about life on Earth.

But he also reflected on many other questions. In a hasty letter to a friend, he presented an idea about how the first life could have been formed.

Some 150 years later, that letter seems notably ahead of its time, perhaps even prophetic.

Contrary to popular belief, Darwin was not the first to propose that species evolve. The idea that animal populations change over time, for example, that today’s giraffes have longer necks than their distant ancestors, was much debated in the 19th century.

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