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Charles Darwin

Portfolio: Richard Bailey

Tom Lehrer's spring isn't complete without poisoning them in the park; Dick Dastardly dratted and double-dratted himself to near-oblivion chasing one. For the rest of us, it's become all too easy to vilify them as "rats with wings".

Here On Earth, By Tim Flannery

This past 150 years are widely seen as the golden age of biology – when it began to seem that all life is understandable and will soon be understood; and that what can be understood can and should be controlled for our own benefit. In 1859, in the Origin of Species, Charles Darwin first explained the mechanism of evolution "by means of natural selection". Then Gregor Mendel described the units of heredity now known as genes; then, in the early decades of the 20th century, Darwin's notions were fused with Mendel's to create "neodarwinism" – evolution conceived as a shift in the content of gene pools of populations.

DVD: Creation, For retail & rental (Icon)

Creation declares in an opening caption that it's going to tell the story of how Charles Darwin (Paul Bettany) came to write On the Origin of Species, but, in fact, for the bulk of the film, most of the book is already written.

Rare Darwin book found on toilet bookcase

A first edition of Charles Darwin's groundbreaking Origin Of Species, which languished for years in a toilet, will go under the hammer this week, on the 150th anniversary of the book's publication.

The Diary: Marc Quinn; Todd Haynes; Mother Courage; Charles Darwin,

Marc Quinn, the one-time YBA who uses 10 pints of his own blood to create frozen busts called 'Self' every five years (the latest of which has been bought by the National Portrait Gallery), is working on an exhibition to feature more than a dozen sculptures of "artists" who have had extreme forms of plastic surgery. It will be exhibited at Jay Jopling's White Cube gallery in April 2010. He revealed: "My new project will be about people who have transformed themselves through plastic surgery, people who I call 'artists' who have completely changed. I call them artists because they have used their bodies as their medium. They are ordinary people who have become extraordinary people. They have acted out what is on the inside on their outsides." Some of the sculptures will be created in bronze, the material he used to create a large-scale artwork of Kate Moss in a yoga pose. Quinn, right, said he had become fascinated with the cult of plastic surgery in modern society. "The show is about a topsy-turvy world," he said.

More headlines

The Big Question: How important was Charles Darwin, and what is his

From the back of a £10 note to the awards in his name that celebrate those who remove themselves from the gene pool by dying in foolish ways, Charles Darwin's legacy is everywhere. He has been on more stamps than anyone save members of the royal family, and yesterday the Royal Mail unveiled another one, to celebrate 2009 as the 200th anniversary of his birth, and the 150th of the publication of his landmark work, The Origin of Species. But that's not the only way the occasion is being marked, and Darwin's influence is felt in far more profound ways than his popular cultural contributions to this day.

What women don't get about men

The answer, for men, would seem to be castration. Better than drink: it takes away both performance and desire. Plato, in The Republic, has Sophocles say that the end of sexual yearning is like escaping from a vicious tyrant, usually quoted as "being unchained from a lunatic". Visions of the madman vary; I always picture him naked, wild-haired and bearded, a bit like Terry Jones in Monty Python, capering and scampering into the distance across a rain-swept Clapham Common. The writer Guy Kennaway, in his memoir Sunbathing Naked, writes: "The chain broke, and I was the madman."