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Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Significance of Darwin Fossils Recently Discovered

Dr. Howard Falcon Lang from the Royal Holloway, University of London, has stumbled upon 314 slides belonging to Charles Darwin and several other member of Darwin’s inner circle, including John Hooker. Several of the slides were from Darwin’s expedition aboard the HMS Beagle. These missing slides hold the clues to a range of species scientists, and the public, never knew existed. Evidently, the slides were lost due to the lack of curatorial care, and the fact the Hooker never numbered and organized them into a registry.

On Tuesday, January 24, the slides were made available to the public for viewing via an online museum exhibit. The significance of this discovery is the fact that we now have specimen samples collected by Darwin during his expedition on the HMS Beagle.

"To find a treasure trove of lost Darwin specimens from the Beagle voyage is just extraordinary," Falcon-Lang added. "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."

We do have samples from Darwin’s expedition, but these specific slides ultimately changed the way that Darwin looked at evolutionary processes. They were a platform for Darwin’s future work on human history. Furthermore, the specimens on the slides date to a time in which we know little about. J.D. Hooker’s specimen was found mixed in with the Darwin slides and was dated to 400 million years ago. What surprised me about this slide, or the reaction to it, was the fact that it was described as “bizarre”. Darwin’s slides were more so described as evolutionary.

The change I see here, considering Darwin was not a household name in the early 19th century, is the fact that he is still widely associated with the creation of this process, even now during the 21st century. His friends, however, have taken a somewhat backseat. Suffice it to say, Hooker’s specimen doesn’t receive the attention it deserves in this article.

Falcon Lang stated that, "There are some real gems in this collection that are going to contribute to ongoing science." Furthermore, now that the slides will be available to the general public for reviewing and research, anyone interested in fossil hunting, geology, paleontology, or earth sciences and biology, can use the new material in many different areas of daily life. Perhaps discussion about evolution and creation will have a new twist due to some of the specimen finds. Students and teachers can also implement the findings into their lectures, in the classroom, or in a more public venue.

Click on the Picture to see the original discovery!


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