Origin of Species mp3

The complete text of Charles Darwin's Origin of Species is available here in mp3 audio format.

This project got its start last summer, when I was listening to a number of biology and science related podcasts. Sometimes just listening to relatively non-technical stories on science is a very convenient way of assimilating the information. Darwin's classic text works surprisingly well in this way. The book is organized basically in a series of examples, which Darwin uses to bolster or challenge the concepts of inheritance and selection. Many of the key issues presented in Origin remain major fields in modern evolutionary biology.

The text is now in the public domain, and can be freely downloaded and shared. Conversion of the text to speech was done with the program iSpeak It. Only minor adjustments have been made in order to make the spoken text more clear. For example, British spellings have been changed to produce American pronunciations, and the names of some foreign scientists cited by Darwin are rendered in (nearly as I could) their proper pronunciation.

Listening to the text in its entirety would probably take 18 to 20 hours, and this isn't really recommended. The most important chapters (in my opinion at least) include the Introduction, and Chapters 1-4, where Darwin's basic idea is developed. Chapter 5 is also interesting in a historical sense, in that here Darwin struggles with a lack of understanding on the nature of inheritance. Chapter 6 discusses the most important weaknesses of the theory, and invokes his famous example of the evolution of the eye. Later chapters draw supporting evidence for evolution from other disciplines. These chapters may be of interest to students depending on their research focus. Finally, the rather poetic conclusions presented in Chapter 15 are well worth a listen.

For the general public, I highly recommend listening to the introduction, in which the major arguments are summarized. Also, for a perspective on the importance of evolution, I've included Dobzhansky's classic essay "Nothing in Biology Makes Sense Except in the Light of Evolution."

    Last updated 18 November 2007
    Copyright 2007 David R. Angelini