New Darwin discovery

Posted on July 25, 2013 | in Collections, Featured | by

This appears to be a previously-unknown collection of shells formed by Charles Darwin.  Whilst cataloguing chosen exhibits for an upcoming exhibition, myself and Gillian McCay the geology curator tipped out a small green box of what appeared at first to be some rather dirty looking gastropods. You can imagine our surprise when we found a slip lining the box which informed us the specimens were collected by Charles Darwin.

Darwin's shells

Darwin’s shells

When we considered we were looking through the collection of his close and influential friend Charles Lyell, there appeared little reason to believe otherwise. After some research I discovered that St Helena (the given location of the find) was one of the stops Darwin made on HMS Beagle, the five year voyage he made investigating geology and making natural history collections, many of which were sent back to Cambridge. Somehow these specimens have gone from the shores of St Helena, through some of the most important figures of early natural science, to delighting a couple of unsuspecting and very excited curators.

Emma Smith, Exhibitions Intern

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