Friday, April 10, 2009

Darwin "No Collection Manager"

The BBC reports today that the Cambridge University's Museum of Zoology has "rediscovered" a tinamou egg collected by Charles Darwin during the Voyage of the Beagle. This is a nice story because the egg in question was spotted by an alert volunteer, Liz Wetton, who noticed that it had "C. Darwin" written on it. Now you may think this is a bit of a giveaway, and it is, but the penny often doesn't drop when people see the name written down like this - I've known people actually catalog specimens as "collector: C. Darwin" without realizing their significance (either that or they decided that it was not cool to get excited about Darwin, a sentiment that I can partly sympathize with). Anyway, kudos to Mike Akam, Director of the Museum of Zoology, for using this as an opportunity to highlight the important role that volunteers play in the curation of our collections. Note also that the specimen was damaged because the great man stuck it in a box that was too small for it. Some things never change.

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