How did evolutionary theory develop?

Like many new ideas, the theory of evolution by natural selection was not immediately accepted by everyone when it was proposed. Discover who was for and against the theory and why.

  • Thomas Henry Huxley (1825 - 1895)
    The story

    In July 1860 a fiery debate was raging over a monumental subject… the story of our own past and how it was linked to the history of life on Earth.

  • Charles Robert Darwin (1809-1882).
    Charles Darwin

    Charles Darwin transformed the way we understand the natural world with his revolutionary ideas. But why wasn't everyone convinced?

  • Alfred Russel Wallace (1823-1913).
    Alfred Russel Wallace

    An intrepid explorer and brilliant naturalist, Alfred Russel Wallace co-published the theory of evolution by natural selection with Charles Darwin. So why isn't he as well known?

  • Richard Owen (1804 - 1892)
    Richard Owen

    Richard Owen gave the dinosaurs their name and brought us the Natural History Museum. Although celebrated for his scientific achievements, he's also remembered as a controversial figure.

  • Thomas Huxley (1825-1895)
    Thomas Henry Huxley

    Thomas Huxley was a pioneering biologist and educator. Why does history remember him as ‘Darwin’s bulldog’?

  • Samuel Wilberforce (1805-1873), © National Portrait Gallery, London
    Samuel Wilberforce

    Samuel Wilberforce was a very religious man who became the Bishop of Oxford. So why is his name inextricably linked with Charles Darwin’s?

  • Mockingbird, San Cristobal © Zoological Museum of the University of Zurich
    Darwin's mockingbirds knock finches off perch

    Watch the video to find out how mockingbirds from the Galapagos Islands, not finches, gave Charles Darwin his ideas about evolution.

Evolution app for iPad

Our new Evolution app for iPad

Explore more than 650 million years of Earth's extraordinary history with our first app for iPad, NHM Evolution.

Learn about more than 800 creatures and plants, examine spectacular 360° high definition fossil images and watch specially-commissioned videos of Museum experts discussing the latest evolutionary theories.

More about the NHM Evolution app