Celebrating the man and the book.
Charles Darwin did not merely open a new chapter in the story of biology; he opened a new book. The publication of On the Origin of Species in 1859 was an event without any parallel, the sudden and powerful exposition of a new view of life as mutable, competitive and shaped by its environment laid out in the form of one long argument.
As we enter the year of Darwin's 200th anniversary, this week's Nature celebrates the impact of On the Origin of Species by looking back and looking forward. Janet Browne offers a guide to how the 50th and 100th anniversaries of its publication were marked, and Marek Kohn looks at the long-running debate over how, and to what extent, selection can work on groups rather than individuals. Nature readers tell us of their ambitions for the coming year of Darwin celebrations, and we provide a guide to when and where some of those celebrations are taking place.
We also look forward to the promise of new research into how natural selection shapes not just the forms creatures take but also the remarkably diverse ways they reach those forms. And we ask what stands in the way of re-originating species by looking at the technology and know-how that would be needed to turn the genome of the woolly mammoth into a living thing.
The ways that evolutionary biology has developed, and the range of areas into which it offers insight, are now almost as diverse as the unending carnival of natural forms that Darwin sought to explain. But they can all be traced back to a single place: the origin.
Editorial Beyond the origin
Gallery Feature An eye for the eye Simon Ings
News Feature The needs of the many Marek Kohn
News Feature Beneath the surface Tanguy Chouard
News Feature Let's make a mammoth Henry Nicholls
Commentary Great expectations Patricia Adair Gowaty, Ismail Serageldin, Per-Edvin Persson, Niles Eldredge, Michael Lynch, Masatoshi Nei, Ulrich Kutschera, Mustafa Akyol, Randolph Nesse & Mel Greaves
Books & Arts Colonies that conquer Manfred Milinski
Books & Arts Darwin: heading to a town near you Joanne Baker
Books & Arts Books in brief: A Down House bookshelf
Essays Birthdays to remember Janet Browne
News & Views Mammoth genomics Michael Hofreiter
Letter Sequencing the nuclear genome of the extinct woolly mammoth Webb Miller et al.
Letter Mechanism of phototaxis in marine zooplankton Gáspár Jékely et al.
Podcast Listen to: Simon Ings and Gáspár Jékely on the eye; Marek Kohn on group selection; and Henry Nicholls and Stephan Schuster on the making of mammoths.
For more online see our Darwin 200 News Special
Related links in Nature Research
About this article
BMC Medical Genetics (2010)