Published: Feb. 9, 2010

MSU Museum hosts annual Darwin Discovery Day

Contact(s): Tom Oswald Media Communications office: (517) 432-0920 cell: (517) 281-7129

EAST LANSING, Mich. — At this year’s Michigan State University Museum’s annual celebration of the life of naturalist Charles Darwin, bird will definitely be the word.

Darwin Discovery Day, which is from 1 to 5 p.m. Feb. 14, will coincide with a new museum exhibit that examines the role birds played in Darwin’s theories on evolution.

Darwin was strongly influenced by avian examples while he was developing his ideas about evolution through means of natural selection.

He collected 38 new bird species during his time on the Beagle voyage (1831-1836). Most of these were from the Galapagos Islands, the most noted of which – Darwin's Finches – are frequently cited as a prime example of evolution.

Darwin Discovery Day will offer a wide range of activities for the whole family, including live chickens and pigeons and other animals, a “Meet the Scientist” lecture featuring noted MSU ornithologist Pamela Rasmussen, and rare, behind-the-scenes tours of the museum.

In addition, MSU Darwin scholar Richard Bellon, an MSU assistant professor of history, will assume the persona of Darwin, talking with visitors and answering all their Darwin questions.

The exhibit, “Birds in the Development of Darwin's Theories on Evolution,” will run through June.

The MSU Library also is marking Darwin Discovery Day with a special exhibit titled “Discovering Darwin: Celebrating Scientific Knowledge, Human Curiosity, Ingenuity.” The exhibit is located on the second floor of the library’s west wing and runs through March 5.


Michigan State University has been advancing knowledge and transforming lives through innovative teaching, research and outreach for more than 150 years. MSU is known internationally as a major public university with global reach and extraordinary impact. Its 17 degree-granting colleges attract scholars worldwide who are interested in combining education with practical problem solving.

From the archives