Arab Today, arab today darwin\s lost fossils found in dusty cabinet
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Treasures for the evolution's theory

Darwin\'s lost fossils found in dusty cabinet

Arab Today, arab today

Arab Today, arab today Darwin\'s lost fossils found in dusty cabinet

A treasure trove of fossils collected by a young Charles Darwin has been discovered by chance
London - Arabstoday

A treasure trove of fossils collected by a young Charles Darwin has been discovered by chance For 160 years they lay forgotten in a dusty cabinet, lost to science because they had been hastily  filed away.Now a treasure trove of fossils collected by the young Charles Darwin has been discovered by chance.
They were collected in the 1830s in South America during his five-year voyage on HMS Beagle.
Experts say the find sheds new light on this formative period for Darwin, then in his 20s, whose study of tropical plants and wildlife set the stage for his ground-breaking theory of evolution.
The fossils, neatly pressed on to slides, some bearing Darwin’s signature, were discovered by Dr Howard Falcon-Lang, a palaeontologist at Royal Holloway, University of London.
He was searching for some other fossils at the British Geological Survey’s cavernous storeroom in Keyworth, Nottinghamshire. Dr Falcon-Lang came upon an old cabinet, with drawers inside labelled ‘unregistered fossil plants’, and decided to take a look.
‘I can’t resist a mystery so I pulled one open,’ he said. ‘What I found inside made my jaw drop! Inside were hundreds of beautiful glass slides. Almost the first I picked up was labelled “C. Darwin Esq”.
‘This is an amazing snapshot into Darwin’s working life. This was one of the most exciting periods in the history of science, forming the mind of the man who would develop the theory of evolution, which would change the world.’
The 314 slides found by Dr Falcon-Lang include 40million-year-old plants from a remote island off the coast of Chile.
Another shows a towering tree-sized fungus which covered the Earth 400million years ago when the climate was so hot there was no ice even at the Poles.
The slides were made by slicing and polishing the fossils into translucent sheets and then placing them between two glass plates so they could be studied under a microscope. Dr Falcon-Lang added: ‘There are 100 million-year-old fossil trees from the latter age of the dinosaurs. It’s real Jules Verne stuff, and scientists are only now starting to study it and understand its scientific importance.’
The fossils were lost because Darwin’s best friend, the botanist Joseph Hooker, did not catalogue them properly. He had been given the job while working at the British Geological Survey in 1846.
But before he was able to put them in the official specimen register, he was offered the chance to go on a voyage to the Himalayas so simply stored them in the cabinet.
It was moved to the group’s first headquarters in Charing Cross in   London in 1851. The cabinet moved to the Geological Museum in South Kensington in 1935 and half a century later to Nottinghamshire – but it was never opened.
Dr John Ludden, of the Geological Survey, said: ‘This is quite a remarkable discovery. It makes one wonder what else might be hiding in our collections.’ The discoveries can be viewed on the British Geological Survey website from today.

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