Tag Archives: Charles Darwin

An Uncomfortable Meal

Charli Mills gives us an unusual prompt this week
In 99 words (no more, no less) write a story about comfort food. How can this familiarity influence a story or character? Is it something unusual, like Twinkies from the 1970s? Or is it something from home, from another place or time? Go where the prompt leads.
So I have gone for the exact opposite, a meal that led to an uncomfortable recollection – and an amazing end result.


Everyone else was asleep but he couldn’t settle.
“What had he eaten?” He felt uncomfortable.
His companions had caught the bird, a Rhea, a flightless bird that was good eating, but there was something wrong. He looked at the scraps that were left, then he saw it, the legs were the wrong colour!
He scrabbled around for what hadn’t been eaten, the head, wing, legs and feathers, but it was enough, it was a new species. In London they were impressed, perhaps this young man would make other discoveries, now they would honour him by calling it – Darwin’s Rhea!


All I have done is retold the account that Darwin gave of how he discovered Darwin’s Rhea.


The first illustration of Darwin’s Rhea, based on the bits that hadn’t been eaten (from Wikipedia)


Filed under Historical tales, Victorian

To see a World in a Grain of Sand – The Origin of Ideas

Charli Mills has challenged her fellow bloggers to write about erosion (details here). I have cheated slightly and written two separate, but linked, stories.

He looked at the strange pattern on the rock that had fallen from the cliff, then bent to make notes.
Hours later he returned to his wife, “I’m sorry I was so long.”
“I married you for better or worse, if the worse is you geologising whist I paint, I don’t mind. What did you find?”
“More evidence,” he pulled out his notebook. “Ripples, fossilised in rock. Which shows that sand, washed down into the sea has been compressed into rock, then lifted up and eroded yet again.”
“What does that mean?”
“That the earth is old, immeasurably old.”

It was on his honeymoon in the Mediterranean that Sir Charles Lyell found the final evidence he needed, that the earth was incredibly old. His book The Principles of Geology, was very controversial.

“What do you think?”
“Well written, it’s full of interesting material, but his conclusions.”
“They will certainly provoke argument, they strike at centuries of study.”
“What will you do?”
“Nothing, for now, the matter will be fully discussed at the next meeting of the British Association.”
The professor paused, smiled and added.
“I am sending a copy to Charles, it is perfect reading for a long sea voyage.”
“Are you sure? He’s young and impressionable.”
“Oh I will advise him to learn from the observations and ignore the conclusions.”
It reached the Beagle just before she sailed, and then?

Professor Adam Sedgewick, who profoundly disagreed with Lyell, recognised the importance of his book and sent a copy to his student Charles Darwin just as he was about to set sail on HMS Beagle, with the advice I mentioned. Darwin ignored the advice, and later acknowledged that The Principles of Geology was the inspiration for On the Origin of Species.


Filed under Historical tales, Victorian