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February 12 marks the 207th birthday of Charles Darwin, the biologist who shaped the way scientists study life on earth. Students will honor his birthday with Darwin Day, a paleontology-themed celebration beginning Tuesday, February 9.

The weeklong celebration includes lectures, a puppet display, a cake contest, a daily information booth with giveaways, and a birthday party for Darwin.

Darwin puppets will be at various locations in downtown Knoxville during First Friday evening festivities February 5.

The information booth will be open from 10:00 a.m. to 3:00 p.m. February 9 to 11 on the Johnson-Ward Pedestrian Walkway. Visitor parking is available at 1545 White Avenue.

The goal of Darwin Day is to promote the understanding of evolution and its importance as a unifying concept in biology.

Neil Shubin, the Robert R. Bensley Distinguished Service Professor of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago, will give the keynote address at 7:00 p.m. Thursday, February 11, in the Cox Memorial Auditorium of the Alumni Memorial Building, 1408 Middle Drive.

The world-renowned paleontologist will discuss our 3.5-billion-year journey of evolution on earth and how humans came to be during his lecture, “Your Inner Fish.” Shubin’s book, also titled Your Inner Fish, tells the story of our bodies as never before explained. By examining fossils and DNA, he reveals how human bodies are the legacies of ancient fish, reptiles and primates.

The keynote lecture is free and open to the public. Shubin will sign books after the discussion.

A birthday party will be held for Darwin at the McClung Museum of Natural History and Culture from 4:00 to 6:00 p.m. Friday, February 12. Monty, the museum’s resident dinosaur will host the celebration. Birthday cake and snacks will be served, and festivities will include games and gallery talks by museum staff.

Darwin Day is sponsored by the UT Student Programming and Allocation Committee; the Ready for the World Foundation; the Dry Dredgers; Knoxville Gem and Mineral Society; 90.3 the Rock WUTK; National Institute for Mathematical and Biological Synthesis (NIMBioS); the departments of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology, Earth and Planetary Sciences, Psychology, Theatre, Religious Studies, Biosystems Engineering and Soil Science, and Entomology; the College of Agricultural Sciences and Natural Resources and the College of Arts and Sciences.

For a complete schedule of events, visit the Darwin Day website.



Sarah Sheffield (

Lola Alapo (865-974-3993,