Darwins pianist wife may have influenced evolution theories

March 4th, 2009 - 2:11 pm ICT by ANI  

Washington, March 4 (ANI): A new study has suggested that at least two key evolution theories formulated by the British naturalist Charles Darwin was influenced by his musician wife Emmas daily piano playing sessions.

According to a report in Discovery News, the study suggests that Charles Darwins home life, and particularly his love of music, played a larger role than many might think in shaping his work, such as his groundbreaking book On the Origin of Species, authored 150 years ago.

The long-term marital dance of Emma and Charles Darwin was set to the routine beat of an almost daily piano recital, said Julian Derry.

He told Discovery News that music was central to home life and a panacea after a hard days work, or often when not feeling well.

Derry, a researcher in the Institute of Evolutionary Biology at the University of Edinburgh, made the determination after studying Emma Darwins diary, Darwin family correspondences and other documents.

These show Emma and Charles were rarely separated after they married in 1839, he said .

The family even conducted experiments together on earthworms, with Emma playing loudly to see if the worms would react. They didnt, so Charles concluded worms are completely deaf.

The naturalist frequently lamented his own lack of musical skills, which seemed to heighten his admiration of Emmas playing, usually enjoyed while he reclined on a living room sofa.

According to Derry, such evenings contributed to Darwins theory of sexual selection.

In The Descent of Man, Darwin wrote, I conclude that musical notes and rhythm were first acquired by the male or female progenitors of mankind for the sake of charming the opposite sex.

Darwins idea was that the organs for sound production in early humans could have been precursory to more complex verbal communication, namely language, said Derry.

Derry also claims that Darwins observation of his 10 children and their varied musical abilities contributed to his theories on mechanisms for inheritance, which were described in On the Origin of Species. (ANI)

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