In this episode Sarah, Josh and James discuss the opening chapters of Voyage of the Beagle where Darwin recounts the initial months of his voyage that includes an aborted stop at the Canary Islands, a visit to Cape Verde and then his first overland trip in Brazil. James discussed how Darwin spent as much time off the Beagle traveling overland than he did sailing in the Beagle.
itinerary of the Beagle Darwin spent 580 days at Sea, 566 days at anchor and 594 days away from the Beagle on overland excursions.
Interesting, even when anchored or exploring on land, Darwin would return to sleep on the Beagle which he found to be very comforting. Darwin spent 1,144 nights on the beagle (65.8% of the trip) whereas he spent 596 nights off ship which is only 34.2% of the trip. Over half (55%) of that time was spent in South America alone.
James discussed how Darwin's diary and notebooks in the first 2 months of the journey included interesting details that were absent in the Voyage. In particular, Josh talked about the ritualized hazing that sailors would inflict on the new crew members when they crossed the equator, a ritual called the line-crossing ceremony.
We focused on the first overland trip that Darwin took when he landed in Brazil. This was the first of many trips that Darwin took while Captain Fitzroy fastidiously checked his charts and maps by reiterately sailing up and down the coast of South America.
As Darwin traveled overland he mentioed many interesting animals and plants he encountered in the jungles of Brazil. One group of animals Darwin became enamored with was planaria (Plathyhelminthes). Interesting, even to this day new species of flatworms are being discovered in Brazil.
James pointed out that this group of animals also exhibit great species diversity in the marine habitat where they show a beautiful diversity in colors. Here are just few examples of the amazing color diversity of marine flatworms one can find with a simple google image search.
Sarah became obsessed, like Darwin, with bioluminescence. Sarah discussed the amazing evolution of bioluminescence and how it has evolved independently across a number of disparate phyla and kingdoms. Darwin was particularly enamored by a large click beetle that incorporates bioluminescence in mating display. One of our students took a wonderful picture of the same beetle during our Tropical Ecology class to Belize.
|photo by Kali Mattingly|
The opening and closing theme to Discovering Darwin is "May" by Jared C. Balogh.
Interlude music http://freemusicarchive.org/music/DubRaJah/Reprise/7_Chitwan