Denmark: Charles Darwin's barnacles found in museum

  • 22 August 2014
Charles Darwin
Image caption Darwin sent the barnacles as appreciation for items loaned by a Danish colleague

A collection of barnacles sent by Charles Darwin as a gift to a colleague 160 years ago have been found in Denmark, it's been reported.

Copenhagen's Natural History Museum of Denmark had hoped to find an item Darwin had borrowed from his Danish colleague Japetus Steenstrup, but correspondence between the pair revealed the existence of the unusual present, the Copenhagen Post reports. According to the museum's Hanne Strager, the father of the theory of evolution didn't just return some samples of acorn barnacles borrowed from Steenstrup, but also sent back a box with an additional 77 barnacles to the Dane as appreciation for his help - a fact Strager hadn't noticed until she studied correspondence between the two.

Only 55 of the 77 arthropods sent by Darwin in 1854 have been found, but they're due to be put on display as part of a large exhibition, the museum says. "To display a gift from one of the world's greatest scientists is something unique for a museum," Strager says, "Here we have a personal relationship with exactly the man behind biology, and perhaps the greatest scientific breakthrough: the theory of evolution."

Image caption The barnacles are to be put on display at the museum

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