"Darwin's Lost Fossils Found In Desk Drawer"
When we saw that headline, which turned out to be from Sky News, we thought it was going to be a delicious Onion-type parody, reporting with triumph and relief about somebody's discovering fossil evidence of those devilishly elusive pre-Cambrian ancestral animals.
Darwin's Lost Fossils Found In Desk DrawerToo bad, no luck. It sounds like what Falcon-Lang discovered is of interest primarily as historical Darwinia, items collected on Darwin's Beagle journey and that kind of thing. The mystery of the missing pre-Cambrian fossils -- hypothesized precursors of the animal phyla that jump into existence with such disturbing suddenness in the Cambrian explosion -- remains unsolved.
Hundreds of fossils collected by Charles Darwin and colleagues have been found after going missing for more than 150 years.
The discoveries were made by scientist Howard Falcon-Lang, a paleontologist at Royal Holloway, University of London.
He stumbled upon glass slides containing the fossils in an old wooden cabinet that had been shoved into a "gloomy corner" of the draughty British Geological Survey.
Using a torch to peer into the drawers and hold up a slide, Dr Falcon-Lang saw one of the first specimens he had picked up was labelled "C. Darwin Esq."
He described the feeling of seeing that famous signature as "a heart-in-your-mouth situation," adding, he wondered: "Goodness! What have I discovered?"