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Storyteller to celebrate Darwin and the "Origin of Species" with performance at NMSU

An internationally renowned storyteller is donning Charles Darwin's hat to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the "Origin of Species" with a free performance at New Mexico State University Nov. 10.


"Charles Darwin and his Revolutionary Idea" is open to the public and starts at 10 a.m. in the Corbett Center Auditorium. The event is hosted by the College of Agricultural, Consumer and Environmental Sciences in conjunction with the Center for Natural History Collections and the NMSU Committee of the Year of Science.

Brian "Fox" Ellis, as Darwin, will tell stories of his adventures sailing around the world on HMS Beagle and will tell humorous tales of his training as a naturalist, his insights into South American geology, his discovery of strange creatures on the Galapagos Archipelago and most importantly, the scientific evidence that lead to his revolutionary theory of evolution.

"The 'Origin of Species' is important because it's the basis for much of biology these days," said David Richman, chair of the Committee on the Year of Science. "I would like the people who attend this performance to understand exactly how Darwin came to his conclusion, why he wrote 'The Origin of Species' and what led him to the idea that species evolved through the process of natural selection."

Darwin believed that natural selection results in the survival of individuals more suited to the changing environment, eventually altering the population structure, Richman said. Some organisms can adapt to that change and will survive and continue to reproduce while others are not selected for adaptation and eventually become extinct.

Since Darwin's book was published in 1859, scientists have made great strides in their understanding of heredity and DNA, something Darwin did not know at the time; this new knowledge has helped scientists flesh out his theory of natural selection.

But, the influence of his theory can still be seen in various scientific fields today.

Ellis will engage listeners in a discussion of the facts so they can draw their own conclusions. The performance will be equal parts dramatic storytelling, stand-up comedy and show-and-tell. Ellis will have an array of fossils, insects, plants and study skins so the audience can experience the discoveries of Darwin first hand.

Temporary parking permits, if needed, are available at http://nmsu.edu/~safety/maps/visitors-parking-safety-classes.htm.

For more information on the presentation, contact Richman at (575) 646-7082.