Feeds

Darwin's lost fossils found down the back of a cupboard

Always in the last place you'd look - a vault in Surrey

Protecting against web application threats using SSL

Fossils collected by a young Charles Darwin have been discovered in a gloomy corner of a British Geological Survey vault.

The treasure trove of fossilised wood, stone and vegetation includes samples that Darwin collected on the HMS Beagle journey during which he came up with his theory of evolution. Lost for 165 years, the cabinet belonged to Darwin's good friend Joseph Hooker and also contained specimens from Darwin's mentor at Cambridge University, the Rev John Henslow.

Dr Howard Falcon-Lang, a palaeontologist at Royal Holloway University, stumbled across the old wooden cabinet shoved in a dark corner of a vault belonging to the Geological Survey in Surrey. He said that he was stunned to pull a slide out and see Charles Darwin's signature on the specimen.

The slides include dense volcanic rock and samples gathered from all over the world - from Dorset to Antigua, India and Australia.

Fossilised tree in Darwin collection, credit British Geological Survey

"To find a treasure trove of lost Darwin specimens from the Beagle voyage is just extraordinary," Falcon-Lang told the Associated Press. "We can see there's more to learn. There are a lot of very, very significant fossils in there that we didn't know existed."

Hooker's failure to use the specimen register properly, and the fact that Darwin was not particularly famous in 1846 when the cabinet was put in storage, allowed the fossils to lie undiscovered for well over a century and a half. It would be 13 years before Darwin published his masterpiece On the Origin of Species in 1859.

Over three million fossils are stored in Geological Survey's collection. A report on the latest finding - Fossil 'treasure trove' found in British Geological Survey vaults - was published in Geology Today. ®

Reducing the cost and complexity of web vulnerability management

More from The Register

next story
PORTAL TO ELSEWHERE scried in small galaxy far, far away
Supermassive black hole dominates titchy star formation
Boffins say they've got Lithium batteries the wrong way around
Surprises at the nano-scale mean our ideas about how they charge could be all wrong
Edge Research Lab to tackle chilly LOHAN's final test flight
Our US allies to probe potential Vulture 2 servo freeze
Europe prepares to INVADE comet: Rosetta landing site chosen
No word yet on whether backup site is labelled 'K'
Cracked it - Vulture 2 power podule fires servos for 4 HOURS
Pixhawk avionics juice issue sorted, onwards to Spaceport America
Archaeologists and robots on hunt for more Antikythera pieces
How much of the world's oldest computer can they find?
Bacon-related medical breakthrough wins Ig Nobel prize
Is there ANYTHING cured pork can't do?
prev story

Whitepapers

Secure remote control for conventional and virtual desktops
Balancing user privacy and privileged access, in accordance with compliance frameworks and legislation. Evaluating any potential remote control choice.
WIN a very cool portable ZX Spectrum
Win a one-off portable Spectrum built by legendary hardware hacker Ben Heck
Storage capacity and performance optimization at Mizuno USA
Mizuno USA turn to Tegile storage technology to solve both their SAN and backup issues.
High Performance for All
While HPC is not new, it has traditionally been seen as a specialist area – is it now geared up to meet more mainstream requirements?
The next step in data security
With recent increased privacy concerns and computers becoming more powerful, the chance of hackers being able to crack smaller-sized RSA keys increases.