What is the HMS Beagle

by Daniel Rivard
(Norwood Ma)

What is the HMS beagle and where did the beagle go on it's voyage.

Your Answer


The HMS Beagle was a Royal Navy ship from England on which Charles Darwin gathered the natural specimens he used to develop his theory of evolution.

Charles Darwin's five-year voyage (from 1831 to 1836) on board the HMS Beagle has become legendary, as insights gained by the bright young scientist on his trip to exotic places such as the Galapagos Islands greatly influenced his masterwork, the book On the Origin of Species.

The HMS beagle's mission was was to circumnavigate the globe while conducting explorations along the South American coastline and across the South Pacific.

The Beagle left England on December 27, 1831. The ship reached the Canary Islands in early January, and continued onward to South America, which was reached by the end of February 1832.

During the explorations of South America, Darwin was able to spend considerable time on land, sometimes arranging for the ship to drop him off and pick him up at the end of an overland trip.

In the summer of 1833 Darwin went inland with gauchos in Argentina. During his treks in South America Darwin dug for bones and fossils, and was also exposed to the horrors of slavery and other human rights abuses.

The HMS Beagle reached the Galapagos Islands in September 1835. Darwin was fascinated by such oddities as volcanic rocks and giant tortoises.

While in the Galapagos Islands Darwin collected samples of mockingbirds, and later observed that the birds were somewhat different on each Island.

This made him think that the birds had a common ancestor, but had followed varying evolutionary paths once they were separated.

The Beagle left the Galapagos Islands and arrived at Tahiti in November 1835, and then sailed onward to reach New Zealand in late December.

In January 1836 the Beagle arrived in Australia, where Darwin was favorably impressed by the young city of Sydney.

After exploring coral reefs, the Beagle continued on its way, reaching the Cape of Good Hope on the southern tip of Africa at the end of May 1836.

Sailing back into the Atlantic Ocean, the Beagle reached St. Helena in July, the remote Island where Napoleon Bonaparte had died in exile.

The Beagle then sailed back to the coast of South America before returning to England, arriving at Falmouth on October 2, 1836. The entire voyage had taken nearly five years.

Darwin believed that all the life on Earth evolved (developed gradually) over millions of years from a few common ancestors.

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