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'Lost' Charles Darwin fossils rediscovered

'Lost' Charles Darwin fossils rediscovered
One of the lost fossils, via the British Geological Survey.

KEYWORTH, England, Jan. 17 (UPI) -- A collection of fossils lost for 165 years, including some collected by Charles Darwin, have been rediscovered in a British vault, scientists said.

The fossils were found by chance in the vaults of the British Geological Survey headquarters near Keyworth by a paleontologist.

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Howard Falcon-Lang of the University of London said he spotted some drawers in a cabinet marked "unregistered fossil plants."

"Inside the drawer were hundreds of beautiful glass slides made by polishing fossil plants into thin translucent sheets," Falcon-Lang told the BBC.

Look at all of the lost fossils via the BGS

"This process allows them to be studied under the microscope. Almost the first slide I picked up was labeled 'C. Darwin Esq.'"

On the slide was a piece of fossil wood collected by Darwin during his famous voyage on HMS the Beagle in 1834, during which he first started to develop his theory of evolution.

After their return to Britain the fossils became "lost" because of a failure to have them numbered in a formal specimen register, and the collection was moved several times and eventually forgotten, scientists said.

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"This is quite a remarkable discovery," John Ludden, executive director of the Geological Survey, said. "It really makes one wonder what else might be hiding in our collections."

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