April 10, 2009

Museum’s egg traced to Darwin

The Zoology Museum at Britain's University of Cambridge said it has discovered an egg collected by Charles Darwin during a South American expedition.

Researchers at the museum said Darwin was known to have collected 16 bird eggs during his 1831-1836 expedition on the HMS Beagle, but all of the specimens were believed lost until a volunteer discovered one of the eggs in the museum's Darwin collection, The Daily Telegraph reported Friday.

The brown egg, belonging to the Tinamou bird of Uruguay, is marked with C. Darwin and records accompanying the specimen suggest it was Darwin himself who left the object heavily cracked.

A notebook kept by Professor Alfred Newton, a zoology expert and friend of Darwin, revealed that the egg was found at Maldonado, Uruguay, and belonged to the Common Tinamou.

The great man put it into too small a box and hence its unhappy state, Newton wrote.

The discovery was hailed by Collections Manager Mathew Lowe.

To have rediscovered a Beagle specimen in the 200th year of Darwin's birth is special enough, but to have evidence that Darwin himself broke it is a wonderful twist, Lowe said.