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"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 Drawer

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?"

Too 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.