Lost Charles Darwin fossils rediscovered in cabinet

Lost Charles Darwin fossils rediscovered in cabinet
A collection of fossils, including some belonging to Charles Darwin, has been rediscovered in the vaults of the British Geological Survey headquarters near Keyworth in Nottinghamshire. The fossils had been assembled by one of Darwin’s closest friends, Joseph Hooker, while he worked for the British Geological Survey in 1846. However, Hooker failed to number them in the formal specimen register before embarking on an expedition to the Himalayas. The collection was then moved several times, before gradually being forgotten. This was until their discovery this week by the palaeontologist Dr Howard Falcon-Lang, who found them in a cabinet marked ‘unregistered fossil plants.’ The fossils have since been photographed and are now available to the public through a new online museum exhibit released this week.
 

 

Germans visit headquarters of ex-Stasi boss Mielke

 
The office of Stasi (Ministry for State Security) chief Erich Mielke, who ran the Stasi from 1957–1989, has been opened to the public in Berlin. The office was once the centre of the former East German police state, with 8,000 Stasi agents working there before the fall of the Berlin Wall in 1989. The original plush furnishings have been restored at ‘Haus 1’and Mielke’s re-erected office features a large television made by the Dutch firm Philips – a luxury that ordinary GDR citizens could only dream of.
 
 

Martin Luther King memorial inscription ‘to change’

 
An inaccurate inscription on the recently opened Martin Luther King memorial in Washington is to be changed. The 30-foot granite statute was unveiled in October 2011 and lies close to the steps of the Lincoln Memorial, where King delivered his famous “I have a dream” speech in 1963. However, the quotation on the memorial, “I was a drum major for justice, peace and righteousness” was originally part of a longer sentence but was inscribed out of context. The US Interior Secretary, Ken Salazar, has therefore called for a new quotation to be found within 30 days.
 
 

Researchers praise Scott’s South Pole scientific legacy

 
A century after Captain Scott’s epic journey to the South Pole, researchers, explorers and relatives paid tribute to the expedition’s significant contribution to science. Scott was initially viewed as an iconic figure following his death on the return journey, together with four other members of his team, but a number of historians revised their view of the explorer during the mid-20th century, questioning his capabilities and contribution. On the centenary of the expedition, however, experts are drawing attention to the innovative scientific breakthroughs made by Scott and his team. This included collecting specimens from 2,109 different animals, as well as rock samples, penguin eggs and plant fossils.
You can view some of the specimens recorded during Scott’s expedition at www.historyextra.com/expedition
 
 

Egyptian tomb holds singer Nehmes Bastet’s remains

 
A group of archaeologists from the University of Basle in Switzerland has unearthed the tomb of a female singer in the Valley of the Kings. The woman, Nehmes Bastet, was a temple singer during Egypt’s 22nd Dynasty, according to an inscription in the tomb. The coffin found in the tomb contained an intact mummy from almost 3,000 years ago. The tomb is only the second found in the Valley of Kings since the discovery of Tutankhamun in 1922.
 
 

“Lousy” Hitler books sold in Germany

 
Peter McGee, the head of London based publishing firm Albertas Ltd, has announced plans to publish three passages from Adolf Hitler’s Mein Kempf in Germany. McGee plans to use the excerpts as a supplement to the company’s existing weekly publication, a controversial series called ‘Newspaper Witness’ which reprints pages of Nazi newspapers from the 1920–1930s, along with a commentary. This is a sensitive subject in Germany, where it is illegal to reprint Hitler’s autobiography, except for the purpose of academic study. Indeed, the state of Bavaria, which owns the copyrights to the Nazi vision of Aryan racial supremacy, said it was considering legal steps to block publication. However, McGee refused to back down, believing that it is time for the ‘lousy’ book to be made accessible to the German public to allow them to ‘discard’ it for themselves.
 

 

Engraving identifies clock stolen from the Royal Berkshire Hospital

 
A unique engraving on the back of a Victorian clock stolen from the Royal Berkshire Hospital has led to its safe return. The clock was taken from the entrance hall of the Reading hospital in 2004 but was spotted in an auction catalogue by David Card, the man who restored it in 1979. Card recognised the stolen clock due to the unusual picture of the clock maker located on the back of the dial. The picture is thought to be of the 19th-century Reading clock maker, W Snowdon. He also inscribed ‘The Bung’, which is assumed to have been his nickname. The timepiece had already been sold to a buyer in New York, but Card was able to persuade the auction house to delay its shipping. The auction house relinquished the clock and it is now back on public display at the Royal Berkshire Medical Museum.
 
 

Roman villa found in Peterborough

 
Archaeologists have discovered a second-century AD villa and farm complex in Peterborough. Although the city was well-documented as a strategic area for the movement of Roman troops, the find sheds new light on the city’s occupants of 2,000 years ago. The grandeur of the newly discovered villa suggests that the city was in fact a place where people settled to show off their wealth and status. A public display of finds from the site will also be held at the Paston and Gunthorpe Community Centre on 28 January.
 
 

Plan for houses on WG Grace Memorial Ground

 
An historic cricket ground in Downend, Bristol, faces the prospect of being turned into flats and shops. The WG Grace Memorial Stadium is named after one of the game’s true greats, who was born in the house overlooking the stadium. However, members of Downend Cricket Club, which has owned the ground since 1920, are now considering whether to sell the site to developers. The ground is deemed too small for the club’s four senior sides, two Sunday sides, six junior sides and the ‘fun side’, the WGs.
 

 

Liverpool’s Cavern Club celebrates 55th birthday

 
The world-famous Cavern Club in Liverpool celebrated its 55th birthday this week. The club, which has historic links with the Beatles, who made a staggering 292 appearances there, opened its doors on 16 January 1957 and was the city’s first venue dedicated to live popular music.
 
 

Simon Schama slams Downton Abbey

The world-famous historian Simon Schama has launched a stinging attack on ITV's Downton Abbey, accusing the programme of being historically inaccurate and playing up to the social stereotypes of the period. He particularly criticised the show’s popularity in the US, where the second series is currently on air. Indeed, Downton Abbey remains the most popular British drama on US TV, regularly attracting more than four million viewers. Responding to Schama’s attack, producer Gareth Neame defended the programme, saying it was not intended to be an historical documentary, but rather a fictional drama.
 
 
 

 

Tom Burrows

Tom Burrows is currently reading history at the University of Bristol

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