Erm... I think not

Tree of Life
Darwin's iconic notebook image.

One of the goodies I bought for myself at the big Darwin exhibition last week was a fridge magnet depicting Darwin's iconic tree of life image with the rather wonderful caption, I think.

It wasn't until I got the magnet home that I noticed there was a bit of a howler on the packaging, repeated on the Natural History Museum's website, which says:

The Tree of Life is the only illustration in Charles Darwin's 'On the Origin of Species'. Darwin used it to show that all things living are related.

Well, not quite.

Although the only image in On the Origin of Species does indeed depict a tree of life, it bears very little resemblance to the one depicted on the fridge magnet, which is taken from one of Darwin's early notebooks on evolution. A facsimile of the notebook is on display at the exhibition (and just to the right).

Richard Carter, FCD

Writer and photographer Richard Carter, FCD is the founder of the Friends of Charles Darwin. He lives in Hebden Bridge, West Yorkshire.WebsiteNewsletterMastodonetc…

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