Charles Robert Darwin, FRS ( 12 February 1809 – 19 April 1882) was an English naturalist and geologist, best known for his contributions to evolutionary theory.
He established that all species of life have descended over time from common ancestors, and in a joint publication with Alfred Russel Wallace introduced his scientific theory that this branching pattern of evolution resulted from a process that he called natural selection, in which the struggle for existence has a similar effect to the artificial selection involved in selective breeding.
Darwin published his theory of evolution with compelling evidence in his 1859 book On the Origin of Species, overcoming scientific rejection of earlier concepts of transmutation of species.
By the 1870s the scientific community and much of the general public had accepted evolution as a fact.
However, many favoured competing explanations and it was not until the emergence of the modern evolutionary synthesis from the 1930s to the 1950s that a broad consensus developed in which natural selection was the basic mechanism of evolution.
In modified form, Darwin’s scientific discovery is the unifying theory of the life sciences, explaining the diversity of life.