Abstract
It is fairly well known that Darwin was inspired to formulate his theory of natural selection by reading Thomas Malthus’s Essay on the Principle of Population. In fact, by reading Darwin’s notebooks, we can even locate one particular sentence which started Darwin thinking about population and selection. What has not been done before is to explain exactly where this sentence – essentially Malthus’s ideas about geometric population growth – came from. In this essay we show that eighteenth century mathematician Leonhard Euler is responsible for this sentence, and in fact forms the beginning of the logical chain which leads to the creation of the theory of natural selection. We shall examine the fascinating path taken by a mathematical calculation, the many different lenses through which it was viewed, and the path through which it eventually influenced Darwin
Keywords Charles Darwin  Thomas Malthus  Natural selection  History of natural selection  Formation of theories  Geometric growth  Population dynamics  Mathematical biology
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Reprint years 2014
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DOI 10.1007/s10739-013-9366-8
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References found in this work BETA

The Descent of Man.Charles Darwin - 1874 - Prometheus Books.
Darwin, Malthus, and Selection.Sandra Herbert - 1971 - Journal of the History of Biology 4 (1):209-217.
Darwin After Malthus.Dov Ospovat - 1979 - Journal of the History of Biology 12 (2):211 - 230.

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