As all you Darwin fans out there probably already know, today marks the 150th anniversary of the great man's work, 'On the Origin of Species.'  And here at NOVA we have been ramping up for this event for some time.

While Darwin's 200th birthday (last February) was celebrated with gusto, I think it's equally (if not more) important to toast his decision to publish his 'dangerous idea' about evolution.  This was something he struggled long and hard with - until one day a letter arrived in the mail that would force his hand.

To find out more more about Darwin's struggle with publishing ideas he knew would cause serious waves check out our two-hour drama, 'Darwin's Darkest Hour.'

When 'On the Origin of Species' was finally published, there were some who were shocked by its implications that God really didn't have a hand in creating species - the common view at the time.  The book instead proposes that evolution by natural selection is a much more compelling explanation for the 'endless forms' we see in nature.  And in fact, one of the groups the work appealed to the most was the young naturalists and scientists of the day who couldn't wait to verify Darwin's claims by doing their own research.  And many of Darwin's theories about natural selection and evolution are still what drive much of the scientific community today. 

But even though Darwin was beginning to understand the idea that species change or evolve over time, he still couldn't figure out exactly how it happened.  What was going on inside the bodies of all these animals to create such a wide diversity of life? 

To learn more about this puzzling question that plagued Darwin, stay tuned for the upcoming two-hour NOVA special  'What Darwin Never Knew' (airing December 29 - check local listings).  The program looks at a brand-new science called 'evo devo' that links the enigmas of evolution to another of nature's great mysteries, the development of an embryo.

But even if Darwin didn't have the whole picture when he wrote his great work, we can still celebrate his courage to publish and his astounding ideas that to this day keep us intrigued and prompt us to continue examining the origins of species and all of the lifeforms around us.
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