See Darwin’s flea – more on Darwin’s celebrations around the country

After a big celebration of Charles Darwin’s 200th birthday last week, evolution activities continue this week and through the year.

We know of nine Darwin-related exhibitions open now across Australia. For a short time only, you can see Darwin’s flea at the Macleay Museum in Sydney. And you can meet the supercrocodilians in Darwin.  More below.

Michael Ruse asks is Darwinism past its ‘Sell By’ Date? He was also on Classic FM with Margaret Throsby today, capping off a packed program for him of public and media activity over the last week.

Iain McCalman’s book Darwin’s Armada will be launched this week. It describes how four voyagers to Australasia won the battle for evolution and changed the world.

In this bulletin we list some 14 events. And we’ve got brief reports on some of the last week’s activities.

But there are many events we still don’t know about. We ask everyone running Darwin-related events to register them at so we can include you in future bulletins.

Please also include us in your media lists. We will be telling journalists about news-worthy Darwinian activities.

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Darwin’s flea and a musical soirée

For a short time only, see a flea collected by Darwin as part of Accidental Encounters, which opens at the Macleay Museum, University of Sydney. Michael Ruse opens the exhibition with a short talk and there will be a performance by musicians from the Conservatory of Music, from 6-8pm on Monday 16 February.

The exhibition displays correspondence between Thomas Huxley and his Australian fiancée. The exhibition will continue, but the fragile flea is only on display until 26 February.

Is Darwinism past its ‘sell-by’ date?

Michael Ruse argues that while not one item of Darwin’s thinking remains intact, everything that Darwin had to say is as vital and relevant as ever. See Michael in a public lecture at the University of Sydney at 6.30pm on Tuesday 17 February.

Iain McCalman launches Darwin’s Armada and follow up with a public lecture

Darwin, Hooker, Huxley and Wallace were young amateur naturalists from Britain who voyaged to the Southern Hemisphere in search of adventure and scientific fame. Iain McCalman launches his book Darwin’s Armada: How four voyagers to Australasia won the battle for evolution and changed the world at Berkelouw Books Newtown at 5.30pm Thursday 19 February.

He later gives a free public lecture on his book at the Australian National University, Wednesday 25 February.

Darwin exhibitions around the country

  • Science inspires art in Generate – an exhibition exploring Darwin’s scientific theories and his emotional life by scientist-turned-artist Julie Ryder. At the Australian Botanic Gardens, Canberra, until 26 March.
  • Living iguanas and orchids, such as Darwin came across on his Beagle voyage, are on display at a comprehensive exhibition of Darwin’s life and work. Titled simply Darwin, this exhibition at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, runs until the 29 March.
  • Darwin visited Australia in early 1836 (and some of his comments were less than favourable, see below). Darwin and Australia is an exhibition of Darwin’s experiences and encounters during his visit to Australia at the National Museum of Australia, Canberra, to accompany the Darwin exhibition. It runs until 29 March.
  • Dinosaurs made out of 3500 tonnes of sand are on display at the Frankston waterfront, in Victoria until 26 April. Dinostory presents creatures that roamed Gondwana in the Triassic, Jurassic and Cretaceous periods.
  • One of the 1250 copies of the first edition of Charles Darwin’s On the Origin of Species is among many rare, beautiful and significant books on display at the Mirror of the World exhibition at the State Library of Victoria, Melbourne.
  • Darwin to DNA at the Melbourne Museum explores the discovery of evolution by Darwin and his contemporary Alfred Russel Wallace including specimens they collected. It then takes you further into the genetic mechanisms of DNA, and how we can use DNA to examine questions about evolution.
  • The quirky side of Charles Darwin is on display at the Melbourne Museum in the exhibition Five things about Charles Darwin, on until 31 May.
  • Darwin himself was wary of the impact he knew his theory of evolution would have. The events and influences shaping Darwin are explored in Charles Darwin: the reluctant revolutionary at the Queensland Museum, Brisbane, until 31 December.
  • Crocodiles and their kind are an evolutionary success story – they have been around for the past 200 million years. See one of the largest crocodilians that ever existed in Supercrocodilians – Darwin’s ultimate survival story at the Museum and Art Gallery of the Northern Territory, Darwin, until 29 November.
  • Join Charles Darwin aboard the Beagle in Charles Darwin – voyages and ideas that shook the world, at the Australian National Maritime Museum, Sydney, opening 20 March.

And from last week

Chris Darwin on Charles Darwin

Australia’s only direct descendant speaks out about living in Charles Darwin’s shadow

Blue Mountains resident Chris Darwin is a great great grandson of Charles Darwin.

Despite failing biology and being known as “missing link” at school, Chris Darwin bears his famous ancestor Charles no ill will.

On the contrary. “He had a beautiful brain, and was involved in something really interesting. And he genuinely didn’t want to upset people. I’d like to have met him. He has given a fantastic lift to my life.”

Read the full media release

Australia will rule…Tasmania is remarkable…but I do not like Sydney

That was Charles Darwin’s view of Australia according to Emeritus Professor Frank Nicholas speaking on the 200th anniversary of Darwin’s birth.

Read the full media release

Science speaks at the Convent

Evolutionary science was a feature of Writers at the Convent in Melbourne over the weekend. Sessions included:

  • A new perspective on Valentines Day: Geoffrey Miller looked at sexual selection through mate choice and how the human mind has evolved in ‘Human evolution: the mating mind’
  • Why are we all so sick? Peter Gluckman looked at the widening gap between how are bodies have evolved and how our minds work in ‘Mismatch: how our world no longer fits our bodies’
  • Astrobiologist Malcolm Walter discussed the very dawn of evolution in ‘The origins of life’
  • Jonathan Marks looked at the evolution of science and the role of science in modern culture now and in the future in ‘Why I am not a scientist’
  • Evolution in poetry? Michael Ruse discussed evolution in poetry, prose and the movies in ‘Darwin and literature’

Read about these and other events at

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We acknowledge the generous support of Science Minister Carr through the Commonwealth Department of Innovation, Industry, Science & Research; the State Government of Victoria; and the University of Melbourne. Together they are supporting the national promotion and branding of evolution events.