Wednesday 23 April, 2014

Fungi wrapped by Darwin in newspaper found in Cambridge

Published On: Thu, Sep 27th, 2012 | Biology | By IANS

Fungi and seaweed collected by Charles Darwin on the Beagle’s voyage to South America in 1832-33 have been found still wrapped in an 1828 newspaper by a librarian at Cambridge University.

The forgotten collection was found when curators at the Sainsbury laboratory examined an unmarked cardboard box in the collection.

“I was going through a box labelled in 1950 ‘to be sorted’. Inside it, wrapped in a newspaper from 1828, I found fungi and seaweed collected by Charles Darwin on the Beagle Voyage in South America during 1832 and 1833,” chief technician Christine Bartram was quoted as saying.

Also found in a brown paper bag were plant specimens collected by C.G. Seligmann, doctor on the 1898 Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Strait Islands.

Sent to Cambridge for the University Herbarium’s scientific collection of pressed plants from around the world, the specimens were stored away and never looked at since.

The artefacts, part of Darwin’s history-changing work on evolution, were still wrapped in the private ads section of a newspaper Darwin had, the daily said.

Bartram said they have not been taken out of their newspaper packaging since Darwin’s mentor Professor John Henslow examined them in the 1840s.

The samples will now be examined and photographed and added to an online catalogue so that they can be viewed by experts around the world.

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