Jan
17
2012

Charles Darwin: The young naturalist as he appeared during the Voyage of the Beagle.
Charles Darwin: The young naturalist as he appeared during the Voyage of the Beagle.Courtesy Public domain
A cache of long-forgotten fossils mounted on glass slides – including some collected by Charles Darwin - has been discovered in a dusty cabinet at the British Geological Survey.

Paleontologist Dr. Howard Falcon-Lang found the 314 slides while searching through the vaults of the Survey headquarters near Keyworth, UK. Each slide contains a polished thin section of a fossil plant, prepared for viewing under a microscope. But the best thing about the discovery is that some of the slides are of specimens collected by the young Charles Darwin during his legendary voyage on the Beagle. Darwin’s theory of evolution and subsequent book On the Origin of Species resulted from much of what he discovered during the five-year voyage. Among the specimens collected by Darwin is a piece of petrified wood from an island off the coast of Chile in 1834.

Falcon-Lang figures the collection has been languishing unregistered in the cabinet for 165 years. Joseph Hooker, a botanist and close friend of Darwin, worked briefly for the Geological Survey in the early 19th century, and given the job of cataloging the collection. But before Hooker could properly register the fossils, he left on an expedition to the Himalayas and the collection was soon forgotten. In the passing years the cabinet got moved several times until it reached its current storage place deep in the recesses of the Geological Survey where it was found in April of last year.

According to Falcon-Lang the lost fossils, some of which can be viewed on line, will add greatly to current science, and he expects some great scientific papers to result from the collection.

SOURCES
BBC story
Telegraph story

Your Comments, Thoughts, Questions, Ideas

Liza's picture
Liza says:

I heard this on the radio this morning and thought it was just the coolest thing...

posted on Tue, 01/17/2012 - 12:43pm
petrology's picture
petrology says:

What a great discovery! I can only imagine the look on Lang's face when he found out what was in that cabinet. That's the discovery of a lifetime!!

posted on Tue, 11/27/2012 - 10:41am
michaelmaloney's picture
michaelmaloney says:

This is why history never fails to amaze us. Who would have thought that some old and dusty storage cabinet which have been long forgotten could contain something so priceless such as Charles Darwin’s fossils. Therefore, it sets as a reminder whenever we were to get rid of our belongings or helping others to move out, we need to keep a close eye to the items in order not to miss out on important things like this gem.

posted on Wed, 08/27/2014 - 8:56pm

Post new comment

The content of this field is kept private and will not be shown publicly.
  • Allowed HTML tags: <a> <h3> <h4> <em> <i> <strong> <b> <span> <ul> <ol> <li> <blockquote> <object> <embed> <param> <sub> <sup>
  • Lines and paragraphs break automatically.
  • You may embed videos from the following providers vimeo, youtube. Just add the video URL to your textarea in the place where you would like the video to appear, i.e. http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pw0jmvdh.
  • Web page addresses and e-mail addresses turn into links automatically.
  • Images can be added to this post.

More information about formatting options