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12 February 2008



In the controversial children's book The Higher Power of Lucky, it is said that as a young boy Darwin was out playing one day and found a couple of bugs he wanted to keep to study at home. He cupped the bugs, one in each hand. Then he found a 3rd bug he wanted as well. So he took the bug from one hand, put it in his mouth and then picked up the new bug, carrying them home like that.

The book was a Newbery Award winner last year and there was way too much discussion over the author's choice of the word scrotum in the story. I enjoyed the book and would leave the word in.


The bug incident is true! It actually happened while Darwin was a student at Cambridge. He wrote in his autobiography:

But no pursuit at Cambridge was followed with nearly so much eagerness or gave me so much pleasure as collecting beetles. It was the mere passion for collecting, for I did not dissect them and rarely compared their external characters with published descriptions, but got them named anyhow. I will give a proof of my zeal: one day, on tearing off some old bark, I saw two rare beetles and seized one in each hand; then I saw a third and new kind, which I could not bear to lose, so that I popped the one which I held in my right hand into my mouth. Alas it ejected some intensely acrid fluid, which burnt my tongue so that I was forced to spit the beetle out, which was lost, as well as the third one.
judy Petrie

That was great that you confirmed it (I was wondering). How did you find it so fast? He was a passionate scientist huh?


It is a fairly well known story about Darwin. It was a matter of searching for the right combination of beetle, mouth, insect, autobiography, three, spit, etc.

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