Harrier, collected by Charles Darwin, found in Dutch museum

This is a video of a cinereous harrier.

Translated from Dutch daily Leidsch Dagblad:

Leiden – The natural history museum Naturalis has discovered a bird in its collection, which had been collected by Darwin. It is a harrier from 1833 from the Falkland islands.

On the day before Christmas, a worker at this museum in Leiden discovered that. The cinereous harrier (Circus cinereus) has already been in the Naturalis collection for nearly 150 years. However, so far it had not been linked to the British naturalist Charles Darwin, founder of evolutionism. ,,A special find”, a museum spokeswoman says.

See also here.

Hen harriers in Britain: here. Persecution threat to hen harrier survival: here.

Hen harrier. Persecution is prime cause of disappearance, says Natural England – Could be reintroduced to new areas: here.

Bird evolution: here.

1 thought on “Harrier, collected by Charles Darwin, found in Dutch museum

  1. Darwin exhibit in Toronto shows evolution of famed naturalist’s life

    Wed Mar 5 2008, 6:45 PM

    By Sheryl Ubelacker, The Canadian Press

    TORONTO – It seems strangely appropriate, somehow, that the opening exhibit in the Royal Ontario Museum’s new show Darwin: The Evolution Revolution is a pair of giant tortoises. And not just because they are living cousins of the species the famed naturalist observed on the Galapagos Islands in 1831, but because of what they are doing.

    Slow but steady, the pair perambulates around their sandy, rock-strewn enclosure locked shell-over-shell in a turtle embrace, demonstrating for all to see their own version of propagating the species.

    It is “living evolution,” remarks Josh Feltham, general manager of Reptilia, an educational reptile zoo northwest of Toronto that arranged for the breeding pair of tortoises to be included in the ROM show, along with a cat-sized green iguana and some ornate horned frogs.

    The Darwin exhibition, which opens Saturday and runs through Aug. 4, traces the life and times of Charles Darwin, whose seminal work “On the Origin of Species” almost 150 years ago forever altered our view of how the natural world evolved and humanity’s place in it.

    Organized by the American Museum of Natural History in New York in collaboration with Toronto’s ROM, Boston’s Museum of Science, the Field Museum in Chicago and the Natural History Museum of London, the travelling exhibition features the most complete collection of specimens, artifacts, manuscripts and memorabilia related to Darwin to be displayed.

    Leaving behind the tortoises, visitors take a journey down the path of Darwin’s life – from his early years collecting beetles to his 1831-36 circumnavigation of the globe as a naturalist aboard the HMS Beagle to his life at Down House in Kent, England, where he and his wife Emma raised their 10 children and Darwin refined his theories on natural selection.

    Among the artifacts is Darwin’s original magnifying glass; one of only 27 original pages still existing from his manuscript for “On the Origin of Species”; the actual letter inviting him to join the Beagle expedition; and the tiny pistol and Bible he carried on the voyage.

    Displays include stuffed examples of the birds Darwin observed – from a variety of finches and a blue-footed booby of the Galapagos to a South American hummingbird and pigeons of all shapes and hues.

    A replica of his Down House study, containing artifacts from the late 19th century, transports the visitor to the place where Darwin spent much of his time in the last 40 years of his life (1809-1882) honing his observations on the natural world and writing his revolutionary scientific treatise.

    But it is not just Darwin the scientist, Darwin the revolutionary thinker that the exhibition sets out to present, says Chris Darling, senior curator of natural history at the ROM.

    As curator of this new exhibition, Darling wants visitors to get to know Charles Darwin the man.

    “Darwin was an interesting guy, he was an interesting person, and in fact he wasn’t some sort of automaton scientist,” Darling explains. “He had some of the same fears, some of the same foibles, a lot of the same concerns that we all have about family, friends, about his stature in the scientific community.”

    “These were all things that he was grappling with, ill-health as well, and with all these concerns there was still a very methodical program to document what he thought was – and rightly so – his theory, the noting of the causal explanation for natural evolution, that being natural selection.”

    Darling, an entomologist whose favourite part of the exhibition is that dealing with Darwin’s insect collections, said historians know a great deal about the naturalist because of his voluminous correspondence. Over the years, he exchanged letters with more than 2,000 people.

    “He sat in that chair and wrote letters for a good part of most of his days with all of the scientists throughout the world,” says Darling, casting his eyes towards the replica study located mid-way through the exhibition.

    “You can see the development of his idea. Now with e-mail, we don’t have any of that,” he says, musing on what the ephemeral nature of today’s electronic correspondence will mean for future historians.

    In fact, it was more than 20 years after his voyage on the Beagle that Darwin reluctantly published his theories on the “transmutation” of species, later dubbed evolution. So fearful was he of the reaction to his views, that even before going public, Darwin was reticent about discussing his conclusions with friends, confiding in his writings that it was akin to “confessing to murder.”

    And when he did finally lay out his arguments, it shook Victorian society to the core.

    “There was a huge negative reaction and he knew that was going to happen, because of the prevailing view at the time,” says Darling, referring to the widespread belief that life began with divine intervention, and all the Earth’s creatures had remained in the same immutable form since creation.

    “The other thing that he also knew, and it perhaps is as important as the public reception, was the reception by his wife because she was extremely devout,” he says. “In his correspondence you can see that this weighed heavily on him.”

    ROM director and CEO William Thorsell says Darwin still creates controversy to this day.

    The museum has no outside sponsor for the exhibition, he says, because it was quietly made clear by prospective backers that “Darwin’s too hot to handle.” (The 19th-century naturalist’s theories on evolution continue to be dismissed by some, most notably religious fundamentalists.)

    “It’s an interesting fact that in 2008 in Canada, as happened in the United States with sponsorship as well, there is resistance to getting too close to Darwin because of the excitation that Darwin is still able to create,” Thorsell says.

    Yet Darwin’s ideas are still very much in evidence – and relevant – today, notes Darling.

    “We see things like disease, things like SARS, epidemics. These are really good documentations of evolution in action.”

    “There’s a big concern now about the overuse of antibiotics. Well, why is that a problem? Why shouldn’t we be hitting every little infection with … the strongest antibiotics we have? Well, what will happen is we’ll select for the ones that are resistant to that drug and then those will be the ones that propagate and those will be the ones we’ll be dealing with next time.”

    In other words: survival of the fittest and evolution of the species.


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