180-year-old fungus collected by Darwin found in Cambridge library
London: Fungi and seaweed collected by Charles Darwin on his Beagle Voyage 180 years ago has been discovered, wrapped in newspaper in a Cambridge University library.
The astonishing find was made when curators at the Sainsbury laboratory examined an unmarked cardboard box in the collection, the Daily Mail reported.
"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," said Chief Technician Christine Bartram.
"And in a brown paper bag, I discovered plant specimens collected by CG Seligmann, doctor on the 1898 Cambridge Anthropological Expedition to the Torres Strait Islands," Bartram was quoted as saying by the paper.
Sent to Cambridge for the University Herbarium's scientific collection of pressed plants from around the world, these were stored away and have never been looked at since.
Scientists relocating the University's Herbarium from the Department of Plant Sciences to the new Sainsbury Laboratory found hundreds of never seen before unique specimens.
Among them were the 180-year-old samples collected by naturalist Darwin on his legendary Beagle Voyage in South America during 1832 and 1833.
The artifacts - part of Darwin's work on evolution - were still wrapped in a newspaper Darwin had, dated 1828.
The samples will now be examined and photographed and added to an online catalogue so they can be viewed by experts around the world.
Such specimens, in conjunction with their accompanying field notes may hold fascinating information that can shed new light on plant evolution.