1831 September 1 Thursday
Darwin woke up early for the first day of bird hunting season and while he was out he received word that his uncle Josiah wanted the two of them to return to Shrewsbury at once. Upon arriving at The Mount Darwin found that his uncle's letter had done the trick, and his father allowed him to go on the voyage, and would support him in any way necessary.
On January 16, 1832 The Beagle arrived at Santiago in the Cape Verde Islands, and anchored at Porto Praya. Darwin went ashore and explored for a few days. Here he made his first "discovery," - a horizontal white band of shells within a cliff face along the shoreline about forty-five feet above sea level. The cliff face was at one time under water. Darwin wondered how it ended up forty-five feet above the sea? He noted that the line was not even horizontal, but varied in height. This supported Lyell's theory of a world slowly changing over a great period of time. The ship stayed at the island for twenty-three days.
1832 August 22
At about this time Capt. FitzRoy started surveying along the Patagonia coastline. Darwin spent many weeks collecting fossils of which he knew very little, but he figured they may be of some interest to the experts back in England. Capt. FitzRoy had a difficult time understanding why Darwin was bringing all sorts of "useless junk" aboard the ship. The fossils turned out to be giant rodent-like animals, armadillo shells, ground sloths and giant teeth, most of which were unknown to science.
Fossils of rodent *
1832 December 18
After passing through the straight of Le Maire at Tierra del Fuego, the Beagle anchored at Good Success Bay. Here Darwin had his first encounter with savages. He was shocked by the primitive way of life they led but was also fascinated by them. A group of four male Fuegians met the landing party. After an attempt to communicate with the Feugians the party presented them with some bright red cloth and the Feugians immediately became friendly with them. The natives initiated a dialogue by patting the crewmen on their chests. Apparently they had the most amazing ability to mimic the crew's gestures and even the words they spoke, often repeating whole English sentences back to them. Darwin was bewildered by all this.
1833 August 13
Darwin arrived at General Rosas camp and received permission to proceed overland to Bahia Blanca. He spent his days riding on the plains, while his nights were spent drinking, smoking cigars, and singing songs with the gauchos. Darwin seemed to take quite a liking to living on the open plains. While at Bahia Blanca he uncovered the complete fossil of a very large animal that he could not identify at all (it turned out to be a giant ground sloth). Oddly enough, the fossil was located below a layer of white sea shells, similar to the layer he found on the island of Santiago
On February 12, 1834 The Beagle and Adventure were now at Woolya Cove again and Capt. FitzRoy checked on the missionaries that were left behind. They found the mission completely abandoned and the gardens in ruins. A short time later some Fuegians arrived in canoes, one of which contained Jemmy Button who seemed to have reverted back to his native state. On this date Darwin turned twenty-five years old and for his birthday Capt. FitzRoy named the highest mountain in the region Mt. Darwin.
1835 February 20
A massive earthquake hit Valdivia and Darwin was right in the middle of the action. The devastation was horrible - nearly every building in the area was destroyed. While the Beagle tried to make anchorage at Concepcion Darwin was dropped off at the island of Quiriquina and while exploring around the island he found areas of land that have risen a few feet due to the earthquake. He became very excited about this find, as it was direct evidence that the Andes mountains, and indeed all of South America, were very slowly rising above the ocean. This confirmed Charles Lyell's theory that land masses rose in tiny increments over an extremely long period of time
1835 September 18
They sailed to the north-east end of Chatham. Capt. FitzRoy and others went on a short inland excursion. Darwin and John Stokes (assistant surveyor) were also put on shore and explored on their own. Darwin examined the huge tortoises here, but collected just ten plants, most of which he thought were unimpressive little things. Eighteen tortoises were brought on board as food.
1836 April 1
H.M.S. Beagle dropped anchor at the Cocos Islands in the Indian ocean. Darwin explored some of the islands and was impressed with the myriad of coconut trees, although hardly anything else existed on these islands. The islands were composed entirely of coral and Darwin surmised that they were once part of a large submerged coral reef. Despite the relative desolate state of the islands he did manage to collect several plants, a few small birds, one species of lizard, several species of insects, and a lot of coral.