Chance of Flooding, Extinction

I found the following story on an episode of QI (series M, episode “Messy”).

Robert FitzRoy achieved fame in a few ways, some of which have stood the test of time better than others. Firstly, he was the captain of the HMS Beagle on Charles Darwin’s famous trip to Tierra del Fuego. He and Darwin were very good friends, putting aside the fact that FitzRoy didn’t believe a word of Darwin’s theories of evolution (which will become significant later).

He was also one of the first meteorologists, and his very first weather forecast in The Times was stunningly detailed: “Moderate westerly winds; fine“.

Unfortunately for FitzRoy, he was initially resoundingly mocked for his study of meteorology; many thought it was an absolute sham science, practically akin to casting runes. Over time, however, it caught on and even Queen Victoria used to write to him for weather forecasts when she was planning her journeys.

Despite his accurate system of weather prediction, for which he was ridiculed, he also had a different scientific theory which was celebrated. Here’s where we return to his disagreements with Darwin.

As many of you know, archaeological study became a huge fascination and hobby for many mid-century Victorians, with loads of theories about newly discovered fossils which indicated that the world was actually far older than its presumed 6,000 years. One of the famous theories was that, no, actually, the world was only 6,000 years old and fossils and dinosaur bones were just placed here by SATAN to test one’s faith.

FitzRoy’s theory wasn’t far off. He believed, and many agreed with him, that dinosaurs went extinct because they were too large to fit on Noah’s ark.

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One Response to Chance of Flooding, Extinction

  1. Pingback: BizarreVictoria: Celebrating 3 Years | BizarreVictoria

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