Conversations with Darwin
Mr Charles Darwin takes some entertaining phone calls
Suppose Darwin had had access to a phone. Who would he have phoned and what would he have said? Who would have phoned him and what would they have said? Shelford School put their imaginations to work.
Darwin: “Hello is this Alfred Russell Wallace? I hear that you have similar ideas to me about the theory of evolution. I have worked on my theory for 20 years; I have even been on a ship called the Beagle for 5 years to the Galapagos Islands to the study the animals there”
Wallace: “That’s really interesting, I know let’s make a joint announcement about our discovery!!!”
Darwin: “That sounds great, my book, on the origin of the species by means of natural selection, is going to be published next year!!!!”
Wallace: “Please can you tell me more about your voyage on the Beagle?”
Darwin: “The thing that amazed me most was the fact that the animals on different islands were slightly different to other animals on the other islands. On five different islands, in the Galapagos Islands, there were the same finches with different beaks for catching different insects”
Darwin: “But that’s not the end, there were different shells of tortoises on different islands, maybe you should come round and look at some of my sketches?”
Wallace: “That sounds great; I’ll come as soon as possible!! Bye”
Charles Darwin on the telephone
by Joe B
“Hello, is that the head keeper at London zoo?”
“Yes it is, who am I speaking to?”
“It’s Charles Darwin here. I’ve been on a long trip on HMS Beagle and I am having a party for my return”
“How can I help you sir?”
“I believe that some of my relatives are living in your zoo. I would like to invite them to my party”
“Can you describe which of your relatives you mean?”
“Hmm… well, some of them have feathers and fly…
some of them have scales and slither, some of them live in water…
some of them are very large with tusks…
some of them are small and live underground, some of them-”
“Excuse me sir, you are describing every animal in the zoo!”
“Yes come to think of it I do appear to be related to all of them and of course yourself! I’d better make sure I have a big enough place for the party and plenty of different food”
“I know Mr Darwin, why don’t you have your party here at the zoo!”
“What a brilliant idea! See you later. Bye!”
Charles Darwin on the telephone
“Hello Mr Alfred Wallace speaking.”
“Yes hello this is Mr Charles Darwin, I believe you have been working on ideas regarding the theory of evolution.”
“Yes indeed I have, how can I help you?”
“Well, I also have a theory which I believe we may share and I feel that it would be to our advantage to arrange a meeting to explore our ideas further.”
“Well, this is very interesting indeed. I have heard of your work and your voyage.”
“Yes the Galapagos Islands proved to be very interesting indeed, particularly the finches which inhabit those islands. Each has its own form of finch and each is different. This has led me to conclude that the original species of finch evolved according to the environment in which it found itself and changes over time.”
“Absolutely, I feel that because of this we could say that all species including man have evolved over a long period of time.”
“I have drawn a similar conclusion my good man. I feel that a meeting is required as our ideas may prove controversial.”
“Capital my good man, let us arrange a date. Can you come to Down House between Bromley and Sevenoaks on Tuesday 24th and we can discuss things further? There are ideas in your work which I disagree and we can discuss them then.”
“Indeed my dear fellow, I can state my case then. I look forward to meeting you.”
“Excellent, well, goodbye then.”
“Yes, goodbye Mr Darwin.”
When I peered round the corner I saw a bearded figure, I stared for a moment and I couldn’t believe my eyes!
It was Charles Darwin in the telephone kiosk, I crept closer to hear what the strange figure was saying, and he said something about an owl.
I discovered he was saying something like:
“It must be mighty hard to find that type of owl in the Galapagos.”
I came to realise that that he was speaking to someone from the Galapagos Islands, I wondered… he stopped talking into the phone and started to scribble in a notebook. Then he said in disgust:
“I don’t want to hear another word about Christianity!”
I needed to tell someone, but whom? The school? My friends? My family? But I was in such a muddle that he actually hung up and got out of the phone-box because he was finished with his conversation.
Then he noticed that I was sticking my ear against the phone-box, like a moth to a flame!
I wanted to run but where? I felt like the world was spinning and I was trapped, even though I wasn’t. He looked threatening and he wailed something about evolution and the Galapagos Islands.
People were gathering round and everything got all noisy, so I turned around to look, and then Charles was gone…without a trace.
Charles Darwin speaks to Alfred Russell Wallace
Charles: “Hello Alfred. Did you know that birds, well finches actually, that are the same but live on different islands here in the Galapagos have changed their beaks depending upon what food they eat?”
Alfred: “Really how could that be if they are the same bird?”
Charles: “Well Alfred, one bird eats nuts and has a short sharp beak, and the other has a long thin beak for eating insects.”
Alfred: “But if they are the same birds why are they different?”
Charles: “Because Alfred, they have changed over time to what food is on each island.” They have specialised to eat certain foods that are available on certain islands only.
Alfred: “ Fascinating my dear fellow! Will you be bringing specimens back?
Charles: “Yes indeed, we are collecting them at the moment. You will be able to see them when we arrive back in a few months.
Alfred: “I look forward to it. Goodbye.”
Charles Darwin speaks to Huxley
Guess what I’ve just found out!
Well, I’m in the Galapagos Islands and the same finches have different beaks.
On one island they have small, sharp beaks for catching insects and on another they have big, wide beaks for eating nuts. What do you think it means?
I don’t know. How many different beaks are there?
Four, but I think there might be more, I’m still looking.
Perhaps the birds have changed depending upon their surroundings.
Yes, that’s a good idea, I was thinking something similar, but I was wondering how long it would take for the beaks to change, it must be a very long time. I’ll bring back some specimens for you to look at, you’ll be amazed at the differences. Must go. I’ve got to see the doctor; I’m rather worried about my heart.
Darwin on the phone
by Joe L
Brrp… Brrp Brrp… Brrp Brrp…
“Stupid technology. Nothing beats a good letter, I say!”
Brrp Brrp…Brrp Br-
“Oh Jean. How are you?”
“Fine, fine Charlie. How’s your wife, eh?”
“She’s good. Say, have you seen the papers? Some idiot took a swing at old Victoria!”
“Yes, Robert Pate, wasn’t it?”
“Mad as a hatter he is!”
“But to change the subject, I see you were in the Galapagos Islands a few weeks ago. How was it?”
“In a word, FANTASTIC! There were so many volcanic holes we nicknamed it ‘the land of the craters’. And it was so beautiful and sunny. There were so many creatures there, and they weren’t scared of me so I could get right up close to study them. The only downside was the journey on the HMS Beagle. Great ship, friendly crew, but I was being sick half the time! But it was worth it for that amazing place. Sigh.”
“Wow, it sounds brilliant. See anything strange?”
“You bet! The tortoises and, my personal favourite, the finches were different from island to island! The shells had different shapes and patterns, and the finches’ beaks were varied from wide, sharp ones for grasping berries to long, thin ones for catching insects. And the islands were no more than 60km from each other!”
“It was indeed.”
“And I see you’ve had a eureka moment with the old evolution theory. Shall we compare?”
“Why not? I believe that as the environment changes the animals in the species with slight oddities that improve its chance of survival pass it on to future generations hereditarily, while those without begin to die until only the advanced ones remain. In simple terms, it’s a process of elimination, or survival of the fittest. I-”
“Crikey, that’s incredible man!”
“Yes, I suppose it is. I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term natural selection.”
“Good gracious. That sounds like a quote if ever I heard one!”
“I see what you mean. Yes… I might put it on the back of my book. Hmm… Yes… That would-”
“Book? What book!?!”
“Oh, I didn’t tell you, did I? I’m going to publish my theory, never mind the Pope!! On the Origin of Species, I was thinking. What do you make of that as a title, eh?”
“It’s brilliant, amazing! Who did you get to publish it?”
“My old friend, John Murray. He said it would be a best-seller, he did.”
“Anyway, you couldn’t get an old friend’s name on it, could you?”
“Sure. How about, in the acknowledgements, I’ll put ‘Thanks to Jean Baptiste Lamarck for the inspiration’?”
“That’d be grand!”
“I just felt I had to do a project after Annie died. At just ten as well. It nearly tore me apart.”
“My condolences and good luck!”
“Thanks, old friend. Bye!!”
Charles Darwin talking To Alfred Wallace about his discovery of the endangered telephone box
Charles Darwin: “Hello, my dear chap.”
Alfred Wallace: “Oh hello.”
Charles Darwin: “How are you doing Alfred?”
Alfred Wallace: “Fine, thanks, all except I’m having trouble that Bishop Wilberforce!
He won’t let himself believe that evolution is TRUE!”
Charles Darwin: *Hmph* “but now let me tell you about the oddest thing that I have found – a beast that doesn’t fit into my theories, and I’m talking to you from inside it!”
Alfred Wallace: “What is it called?”
Charles Darwin: “A TELEPHONE BOX! But it’s about to go extinct, it’s only just surviving in this little village”.
Alfred Wallace: “Tell me about it.”
Charles Darwin: “Well, it’s bright red, it’s covered in small square eyes, eats
electricity but, most excitingly, I can communicate to people through it!”
Alfred Wallace: “Are you sure about that?”
Charles Darwin: “Completely sure.”
Alfred Wallace: “Can I see a specimen sometime?”
Charles Darwin: “Possibly, but it’s very large and may prove hard to collect.”
Alfred Wallace: “Goodbye then.”
Charles Darwin: “Goodbye.”