How Much Do You Know About Charles Darwin?

HISTORY

John Miller

6 Min Quiz

Image: LearnDocs101

About This Quiz

In the span of human history, there are really only a few truly famous names in science, particularly in the past couple of centuries. Everyone has some background on Ivan Pavlov, Marie Curie, Carl Sagan, Albert Einstein and, of course, Neil deGrasse Tyson. In the 19th century, though, very few scientific minds had the kind of impact of Charles Darwin. In this quiz, do you think you really know anything about Darwin and his life of usurping the status quo?

Before Darwin came along, religion explained away many of the details of biology. God simply willed plants and animals into being, and that was that. In his youth, Darwin was a hardcore religious type who believed wholeheartedly in the teachings of the Bible. But then a funny thing happened – the young man got an up-close and violent look at the practice of human slavery … and for him, everything changed. How much do you know about Darwin’s concepts on life and how they changed during his formative experiences?

As a young man, Darwin jumped at the chance to embark on an amazing adventure, one that took him to the far reaches of the Earth. His explorations expanded his mind and honed his scientific procedures. What do you know about this famous scientist's travels?

Darwin combined his adventurous nature with an open mind, and he developed a whole new series of theories regarding the manner in which life develops and changes over time. 

Dig through the bones of this world-altering quiz! We’ll find out if you’re an evolved human … or whether you’re stuck in the Stone Age with the Neanderthals!

Charles Darwin was a famous _____.

Darwin was an English naturalist whose life work propelled concepts of evolutionary biology. His ideas had a major impact on huge swaths of human culture and society.

Advertisement

In his younger days, Darwin planned to pursue which profession?

Darwin planned to follow in his father's footsteps and become a doctor. But he couldn't handle blood and gore … so he gave up on that particular career goal.

Advertisement

Darwin established that all ____ have evolved from common ancestors.

At first, the concept was shocking, particularly in times when religious concepts ruled the world. Darwin proposed that all species of life evolved from common ancestors.

Advertisement

What was the name of Darwin's most famous book?

In 1859, Darwin published "On the Origin of Species," which established many revolutionary ideas regarding how modern species came to be. His book almost immediately caused debate all over the world.

Advertisement

Darwin actually delayed the publication of "On the Origin of Species" by two decades. Why?

Darwin held off on publishing his iconic book. Why? He knew religious people would cause an uproar … and he wanted no part of a public kerfuffle.

Advertisement

In 1831, what adventure did Darwin begin?

In 1831, Darwin set off in a ship that sailed to many places around the world. He made careful observations of animals everywhere he traveled.

Advertisement

What was the name of Darwin's famous ship?

Darwin set sail on the HMS Beagle, a 90-foot ship that sailed into biology history. The ship carried the scientist across the Atlantic Ocean and into some incredibly wild areas.

Advertisement

During his five-year expedition, where did Darwin spend most of his time?

He spent almost all of his time on land -- just a year and a half of that five years was used for travel on the HMS Beagle.

Advertisement

Early in life, Darwin went to school for what subject?

Darwin, the mastermind of the theory of evolution, attended school hellbent on studying theology. But his life experiences began to shake his faith … and he gravitated toward the sciences instead.

Advertisement

Darwin came up with the concept of "natural selection," which basically said what?

Natural selection specifies that all species must adapt to their circumstances … or they'll go extinct. This process is now embraced as fact by many world scientists.

Advertisement

True or false, was Darwin a hardcore atheist?

Darwin is portrayed as anti-God, but he wasn’t. Raised as a Christian, he began to lose his faith in organized religion as his scientific views gained momentum.

Advertisement

How did Darwin feel about the practice of slavery?

Darwin, who was born on the same date as Abraham Lincoln, despised slavery. And the horrors of slavery made him doubt whether there was a God.

Advertisement

During his journey on the HMS Beagle, how did Darwin spent much of his time?

The young scientist was no expert biologist. So he collected many, many specimens and packed them away so that true experts could have a look at them.

Advertisement

Where did Darwin make some of his most amazing insights?

Hundreds of miles from the coast of Ecuador lie the Galápagos Islands. It was here that Darwin made some of the observations that led to his ideas on natural selection.

Advertisement

Darwin was a leader of the ____ Club, in which friends gather to eat weird unusual animal meats.

Darwin loved to feast on animals not usually harvested for human meals, and he led the Glutton Club, which brought together other adventurous palates. He was reportedly revolted by owl flesh.

Advertisement

Darwin was an independent scientist. How did he support himself?

Upon returning from his long voyage, Darwin's reputation grew by leaps and bounds. His father arranged for donors to fund the young Darwin's scientific inquiries.

Advertisement

Before his five-year journey, much of Darwin's academic training revolved around which subject?

The young man was schooled in geology, and he joined the expedition in large part to study this subject. But even though he lacked biology training, his scientific mind helped him catalog many specimens and develop new theories.

Advertisement

True or false, did Darwin come up with the phrase, "survival of the fittest"?

False. It was acutally a philosopher named Herbert Spencer who coined the phrase, "survival of the fittest." But he did use Darwin's concepts as inspiration for the now-famous quote.

Advertisement

What problem affected Darwin throughout his life?

The famous scientist suffered from bevy of health problems later in life. Some historians suspect that he picked up a chronic illness during his five-year journey of discovery.

Advertisement

How old was Darwin when he began his five-year voyage around the world?

Darwin was just 22 years old when started his around-the-world adventure. Before he turned 30, he was a well-respected scientist.

Advertisement

During his journey to Tierra del Fuego, Darwin met the natives. What did he call them?

Darwin's encounters with the "untamed" natives on Tierra del Fuego left him puzzled at the differences between these people and those who lived in modern cities. He regarded the gulf between them as deeper than those between animals and humans.

Advertisement

What did Darwin do with all of the specimens he collected on his journey?

Upon his return, Darwin hired experts throughout the land to analyze and catalog his specimens. Then he began publishing his findings.

Advertisement

Who did Charles Darwin marry?

It was a pairing at odds with later discoveries regarding genetics. Darwin married his first cousin, Emma, and they were married for more than 40 years.

Advertisement

What was Darwin's wife, Emma, like?

Emma was a religious woman, part of the Unitarian church. She feared that her husband was going to Hell for his scientific theories, which seemed contrary to the Bible's teachings.

Advertisement

Darwin collected various birds on the Galapagos Islands, thinking they were very different animals. What did the experts say?

Darwin thought his birds were so different that they were totally different animals. But his experts unveiled the fact that they were all a type of finch … but they'd evolved differently depending on their location, giving credence to Darwin's ideas of evolution.

Advertisement

How were many of Darwin's ideas received during his lifetime?

Darwin was pleasantly surprised by the general acceptance that his theory of evolution received during his lifetime. His ideas on natural selection, though, found a less receptive audience.

Advertisement

Where is Darwin's body buried?

After he died in 1882, Darwin's supporters created a public campaign to have his body buried in Westminster Abbey. They were successful, and the scientist was buried there with honor.

Advertisement

Darwin didn't call it "evolution." He called it _____.

The young Darwin pinned many of his scientific dreams on the concept of "transmutation," the idea that animal species change over time. Nowadays, we call it evolution.

Advertisement

What is the common term for Darwin's theories on natural selection?

Darwin's theories caught on. His ideas regarding natural selection and evolution are simply called "Darwinism." People who die in really stupid ways are often given the "Darwin Award."

Advertisement

How did Darwin die?

Darwin died from heart failure. Scientists speculate that he was infected with Chagas disease through an insect bite during his journey to Argentina, and the immense stress in his life also took a toll. He lived to age 73.

Advertisement

Explore More Quizzes

About HowStuffWorks Play

How much do you know about dinosaurs? What is an octane rating? And how do you use a proper noun? Lucky for you, HowStuffWorks Play is here to help. Our award-winning website offers reliable, easy-to-understand explanations about how the world works. From fun quizzes that bring joy to your day, to compelling photography and fascinating lists, HowStuffWorks Play offers something for everyone. Sometimes we explain how stuff works, other times, we ask you, but we’re always exploring in the name of fun! Because learning is fun, so stick with us!