Lost Darwin ‘evolution egg’ surfaces 200 years on

April 10th, 2009 - 5:06 pm ICT by ANI  

London, Apr 10 (ANI): An egg collected by Charles Darwin on his five-year voyage on the HMS Beagle in the 1830 and lost for nearly 200 years has been found in a drawer at the University of Cambridge.

The small dark brown egg, with Darwin’s name written on it, was found by Liz Wetton, 80, a volunteer at the Zoology Museum’s bird egg collection.

It bears a large crack, caused after the great naturalist put it in a box that was too small for it, reports The Independent.

The egg is the only one known to exist from Darwin’s Beagle collection.

Researchers have known that Darwin collected 16 bird eggs during his trip between 1831 and 1836 but all were thought to be lost.

The finding was made in February during Wetton’s routine egg sorting.

“The funny thing is that this is Darwin’s year, so the timing is perfect, it couldn’t be better. I’ve always been interested in birds, I’m a bird watcher. And strangely enough, the egg is chocolate-coloured too: when someone in the museum saw it, they said, ‘It’s Darwin’s Easter egg!’” she said.

The egg, which belongs to the common tinamou, a relative of the ostrich, was donated to the museum by Alfred Newton, a friend of Darwin’s who was a professor of zoology at Cambridge.

When the museum’s curators consulted his private notebook, they discovered a reference to the egg which revealed: “One egg, received through Frank Darwin, having been sent to me by his father who said he got it at Maldonado (Uruguay) and that it belonged to the Common Tinamou of those parts. The great man put it into too small a box and hence its unhappy state.” (ANI)

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