Sarah sails in ancestor famous footsteps
CHARLES Darwin's great-great- granddaughter yesterday
began an epic journey to retrace his footsteps by following the route of his Origin of Species voyage.
Sarah Darwin, 45, will spend a year sailing the globe in a reconstruction of the trip of the legendary scientist in 1831. She began the journey by rowing a small boat from Plymouth – the same spot at which her famous ancestor began his voyage at the age of 22.
Sarah took the rowing boat to a larger Clipper ship, the Stad Amsterdam, which will now follow the route of the HMS Beagle. Darwin's original five-year voyage formed the basis of his book The Origin Of Species By Means Of Natural Selection, first published 150 years ago.
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This time round, Sarah, a botanist, will be joined by a crew of renowned historians, scientists and even Hollywood actor John Malkovich. They will carry out tests and research which will allow them to assess the future of the species and state of the natural environment.
The expedition will take the crew from Brazil to Patagonia, from the Andes mountain range to the Galapagos islands and across the Pacific to Australia and the Cape of Good Hope.
Sarah, who lives in London, said she was hoping to gain a further insight into her great-great-grandfather's work after years of studying his books.
She said: "I think I have always had a good idea of the background of Charles Darwin. Above all, I am a Darwin, British and a scientist.
"But I had no knowledge of his intellectual growth. By transferring his words into images, I hope to experience a bit of his historical sensation.
"Thanks to his notes and the letters, which he made during and after his voyage with HMS Beagle, we have quite exact knowledge of how the journey must have taken place.
"But by doing this it will become much more concrete. We all know the books, the voyage of the Beagle and the Origin of Species. But now it is also about the future of species.
"It is important to gain insight in to what has changed over the past few 170 years on earth and – even more important – what the future will look like."
Sarah will be joined by journalist and historian Christopher Lloyd, palaeontologist Peter Ward, anthropologist Michael Heckenberger and geneticist and anthropologist Spencer Wells.
Also on board will be American philosopher Daniel Dennett, fossil- hunters, DNA researchers, geologists and archaeologists.
The crew will visit research ships, swim with whales and sharks and even explore the "plastic islands" of rubbish which can now be found floating on the ocean.
The voyage is taking place 200 years since Charles Darwin's birth and marks the 150th anniversary of the publication of the Origin of the Species.