Cover of the book 'This Thing of Darkness' by Harry Thompson

Darwin around the world

During his voyage on the Beagle, Darwin finds gigantic bones in several places in South America. They seem to be the remains of some extinct animal species. He discusses the implications of these findings with captain Fitzroy. They are discussing the Biblical flood:

“The threat of a disaster – the rising water – would have aroused the animal’s survival instinct,” Fitzroy suggested. “They would automatically be drawn to the Ark. Wouldn’t it have been easy to select them at arrival, allowing the young and small ones to come on board while excluding the large and old ones?”

“I’m not sure,” Darwin admitted awkwardly. “The measurements of the ark are given as 450 feet long and 75 feet wide. How could one vessel harbour the entire creation? Wouldn’t the animals have killed each other? I always thought it was a rather annoying story.”

“Master Charles,” Fitzroy rebuked him gently, “doesn’t the extinction of these monstrous creatures answer your question? Where are they now? They drowned in the Flood.”

“Then where are the human fossils? If all people drowned at the same time, shouldn’t there be human bones as well as the large ones from the animals that drowned? Unless these gigantic animals lived at another time, during some earlier period?

This is a passage from the wonderful novel 'This Thing of Darkness' by Harry Thompson, about the voyage of the Beagle. Slowly but surely, Darwin develops his theory in concordance – or discordance – with the colourful character of captain Fitzroy, ‘inventor’ of the weather forecast.

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