Charles Darwin in Australia and WA
5 February, 7:30 pm-9:30 pm
In the lead up to International Darwin Day, celebrating the birth of Charles Darwin, this month’s speaker Dr Alan Needham will sharing with us details of Darwin’s time in Australia. Starting with the background of Charles Darwin, Dr Needham will discuss the events that led to his participation in the voyage of HMS Beagle around the world in the 1830s – a voyage which was to prove a catalyst for seminal changes in the worlds of biology, religion and social sciences. The trip was planned to take two years but lasted nearly five, and Australia was the last major port of call. By then, all aboard were jaded, weary and homesick and Darwin’s health was affected by chronic seasickness. Nonetheless, he travelled as extensively as he could in Australia and made many valuable observations here. This good work, however, has been largely and perhaps unfairly overshadowed by his negative comments on the Australian society of the time.
Dr Alan Needham is a retired zoologist whose specialty is marsupial physiology and ecology. His early work at the University of NSW was the study of the cardiovascular systems of arid-zone kangaroos and their circulatory responses to the requirements of thermoregulation. Later work as a senior lecturer at ECU included ecological studies of smaller marsupials in the south-west of WA. He has been a member of the DBCA Gilbert’s Potoroo Recovery Team since 1996 and currently chairs the community-based Gilbert’s Potoroo Action Group. He has a longstanding interest in evolution and in the role played by the voyage of HMS Beagle in shaping Charles Darwin’s revolutionary ideas.
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