Charles Darwin Tried Every Species He Discovered

It is said that Charles Darwin once had a bad experience with a meal of brown owl, describing the taste as “indescribable”.

Charles Darwin is widely known for his contribution to the theory of evolution, which explains the gradual changes in biology.

However, what is not commonly known is that Darwin tasted (at least) one of every species he ever studied or discovered.

Why Was Darwin Adventurous with His Food?

Darwin’s interest in trying new foods began during his time at Christ’s College, University of Cambridge.

While at the university, Darwin was the president of the “Glutton Club,” which aimed to find and consume “unusual meat” as well as “birds and animals that were unknown to the human palate.”

The website of Christ’s College describes Darwin’s university life as follows:

“Although Darwin eventually did quite well in his final exams, most of his three years were spent eating exotic meats with his Glutton Club, drinking a bit too much, riding his horse, and of course collecting beetles.”

The Glutton Club was a success, with many members wanting to taste the flavors of exotic meats. However, it came to an end when they had a disappointing and tough brown owl.

Fortunately, this did not stop Darwin’s culinary adventures, as he continued to try new foods during his travels on the HMS Beagle.

On the Beagle, Darwin tasted many types of meat, including armadillo (which he described as tasting like duck), iguana, and an unnamed 20-pound brown rodent (which he said was the best meat he ever tasted).

Christmas Day…

Darwin’s only culinary mistake was during Christmas Day Dinner in 1833.

The ship’s cook had managed to get a rhea (a bird similar to an emu that is indigenous to the Altiplano and Patagonia in South America), which he cooked and served to Darwin.

Halfway through eating it, Darwin realized that he was eating an extremely rare Avestruz petise, which he could have otherwise studied.

He quickly got up from the table and tried to save the remaining parts of the bird for research, managing to recover “the head and neck, the legs and many of the larger feathers.”

As Darwin continued to travel and discover new species, he continued to try them, sometimes even eating more than one, depending on how delicious they were.

Just as you strive to learn something new every day, Darwin also tried to taste something new every day.


1. Why did Charles Darwin eat the animals he discovered?

Charles Darwin ate the animals he discovered because he believed it was important to fully understand their biology and behavior. He wanted to study every aspect of the animals, including their taste and texture, in order to gain a complete understanding of their ecological role.

2. What kind of animals did Charles Darwin eat?

Charles Darwin ate a wide variety of animals, including iguanas, armadillos, and rheas. He also ate many species of birds, including finches and mockingbirds, as well as several species of rodents and reptiles.

3. Did Charles Darwin eat any animals that are now endangered?

It is unlikely that Charles Darwin ate any animals that are now endangered, as many of the species he studied were common at the time. However, some of the animals he ate are now rare or threatened, such as the giant tortoise of the Galapagos Islands.

4. Did Charles Darwin enjoy eating the animals he discovered?

It is difficult to say whether Charles Darwin enjoyed eating the animals he discovered, as he rarely commented on the taste of the animals in his journals. However, he did express a great appreciation for the diversity of animal life and the role that each species played in the ecosystem.

5. Did Charles Darwin eat any plants?

Although Charles Darwin was primarily interested in studying animals, he did occasionally eat plants as well. He was particularly interested in the adaptations of plants to their environment, and often collected specimens for study.

6. Did Charles Darwin’s eating habits influence his theories of evolution?

It is unlikely that Charles Darwin’s eating habits directly influenced his theories of evolution, as his observations were based on a wide range of scientific evidence. However, his interest in the diversity of animal life and the role of each species in the ecosystem certainly contributed to his understanding of natural selection.

7. What impact did Charles Darwin’s eating habits have on science?

Charles Darwin’s eating habits did not have a direct impact on science, but his studies of the animals he ate contributed to a greater understanding of their biology and behavior. His work on the Galapagos finches, for example, helped to establish the principles of natural selection and had a profound impact on the field of evolutionary biology.

8. Would it be ethical for a scientist to eat the animals they discover today?

Today, it would generally be considered unethical for a scientist to eat the animals they discover, as many species are endangered or threatened. However, there may be some circumstances where it is necessary to study the taste and texture of an animal for scientific purposes. In these cases, the animals would need to be sourced ethically and their welfare would need to be carefully considered.

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