Museums often have millions of items in their collections. So it's not surprising that things are sometimes misidentified or even lost – but it must be a nice surprise to rediscover them. Here are just a few examples of specimens and artifacts that have been lost in museums and then found.
. 1 Beetles collected by David Livingstone
In October 2014, while searching the collections of the London Museum of Natural History, Max Barclay found a wooden box with 20 beetles attached to it and the inscription "Zambezi coll. Livingstone. "That would be Dr. David Livingstone, who collected the insects during his Zambezi expedition from 1
The beetles belonged to a collection of 15,000 insects that the lawyer and amateur entomologist Edward Young Western left to the museum in 1924 when he died. He may have purchased the specimens from a member of the expedition during a natural history auction in the 1860s. Although the specimens were technically owned by the government, they were never released, so a quiet sale would have been relatively easy.
The specimens are not just a cool find; They also have scientific value. The museum's researchers can use the historical samples to "study the effects of changing environments on plants and animals around the world," Barclay said.
. 2 A 6500-Year-Old Human Skeleton
Janet Monge, responsible curator of the Department of Physical Anthropology at the Penn Museum in Philadelphia, had always known about the mysterious skeleton that was stored in a wooden box in the basement. It had been in the museum for so long. Until 2014, when researchers worked on the digitization of the records of the excavations of Sir Leonard Woolley 1929-30 in Ur, Ur, Ur, nobody understood its meaning.
William Hafford, Ur's Digitization Project Manager, and his team found records showing which excavated objects went to which museums after Woolley's excavation. According to a press release, half of the artefacts were located in newly formed Iraq, the other half being shared between the two museums that sponsored the excavation, the British Museum and the Penn Museum. A number of items on the list included "a tray of" mud of the tide "and" two skeletons, "according to the press release. "Further research into the object database of the museum revealed that one of these skeletons, 31-17-404, which was classified as & # 39; before the flood & found in a stretched position, did not function as of 1990 as & # 39 ;. was taken into account. "  Woolley's field notes contained photographs of the archaeologist, "who removed an undamaged Ubaid skeleton, covered it with wax, propped it on a piece of wood and lifted it out with a sackcloth loop," the museum says. Monge told Hafford that she had no record of such a skeleton, but had a mystery skeleton in a box – and after the box had been opened, it became clear that the 6,500-year-old skeleton was the one excavated on Woolley's dig , 19659004] Scientists called the skeleton – which once belonged to a middle-aged muscular man who stood 5 feet 8 inches to 5 feet 10 inches – Noah, because he lived after a great flood over southern Iraq.
. 3 Barnacles by Charles Darwin
In the ten years prior to its publication on the Origin of Species Charles Darwin corresponded with Japetus Steenstrup, then head of the Royal Natural History Museum in Denmark (the forerunner of contemporary natural history) Zoological Museum of the Museum), which in November 1849 awarded Darwin some petrified barnacles for his species research . "It's a noble collection, and I'm very grateful to you for entrusting it to me," wrote Darwin Steenstrup when he received the barge box in January 1850. When the parcels were too late, Darwin was so worried that he actually had one When she examined the correspondence between the two scientists, Hanne Strager was the leader. Darwin mentioned in his correspondence a list of 77 other barnacles he had received as a gift when he returned the borrowed barnacles to Steenstrup in 1854. This list was found in Steenstrup's papers and in the museum was able to locate 55 of the barnacles with the original labels – not an easy task, as they had not been held together. As the history blog notes, there was no reason to hold them together: " The Origin of Species was five years away. The barnacles were considered like any other specimen, not the curated collection of a great pioneering scientist. They were distributed by species throughout the museum collection. "The museum has since exhibited the specimens. Most of the missing barnacles come from one genus and were probably lent to another institution or scientist who never returned them.
A number of Darwin specimens have been lost and rediscovered, including a beetle found on an expedition to Argentina (named Darwinilus sedarisi 180 years later in honor of the scientist ); the taxidermed remains of a turtle that he captured on the Galapagos Islands and kept as a pet; and a Tinamou bird's egg, which he collected during the HMS Beagle expedition.
. 4 The earliest tyrannosaur
This exceptionally well preserved fossil found in 1910 during an excavation in Gloucestershire, England, was added to the collections of the Natural History Museum of London in 1942. Discoverers thought it was a new species of megalosaur – but eventually it was recognized as an unknown genus and referred to as Proceratosaurus . In 2009, scientists using computer tomography scanners found that the Dino is the oldest known relative of the Tyrannosauridae. It lived about 165 million years ago.
"If you look at [ Proceratosaurus ] in detail, it has the same types of windows on the side of the skull to increase the jaw muscles," Angela Milner, Associate Keeper of Paleontology at the Natural History Museum, said the BBC. "It has the same types of teeth – especially on the front of the jaw – they are small teeth and almost banana-shaped, which are exactly the kind of teeth that T. Rex has in. Inside the skull CT scan revealed that there are many internal airspaces. Tyrannosaurus also had them. "
" This is a unique specimen, "said Milner the only one of its kind known in the world.
5. A Long-tailed Echidna
Until last year, scientists believed that the endangered, egg-laying long-beaked echidna lived for the last time in Australia 11,000 years ago – until the Natural History Museum in London found a specimen from their collections was collected in Australia in 1901. The manuscript belonged to the naturalist John Tunney, who visited northwestern Australia to collect specimens for Lord Walter Rothschild's private collection (Rothschild apparently also kept common Echidnas as pets among other exotic animals).
The only known population of Long-tailed echidnas live in the forests of New Guinea, but this discovery could mean that the creature in Australia is not extinct at all and still lives undetected in a remote part of the continent, and the region where Tunney collected this specimen is still there hard to reach that of a jackscrew rs needed to get to parts of it. Scientists plan to search for Echidnas with a long beak. "To find a species that we died and survived for thousands of years … [thought] would be the best news of all time," said Roberto Portela Miguez, Curator of the Mammal Department at the Natural History Museum, London, opposite iTV. 19659002] 6. Alfred Russel Wallace's Butterflies
Interns are routinely entrusted with less-than-desirable projects, and on the surface, Athena Martin appeared to be one of those interns: during a four-week internship at the Oxford University Museum of The 17-year-old Looking for copies of Alfred Russel Wallace in 3340 butterfly drawers, a Victorian naturalist who came to the idea of evolution and natural selection independently of Darwin, had copies of Wallace in his collection, but did not know which specimens he had or which species had collected.
Martin's task was not easy – it required her to read the tiny hand Next to every insect labels were attached – but it paid off: The intern discovered 300 of Wallace's specimens, including one Dismorphia the Wallace from 1848 to 1852 in the Amazon region. It is a particularly exciting find, as his boat caught fire during the return journey and lost most of his specimens at sea. "I was a bit confused when I found the Amazon specimen for the first time," Martin said in a press release. It was not until I showed the copy [my supervisor James Hogan] that I found out that it came from the Amazon.
The butterflies were not the only lost Wallace specimen found: 2011 Daniele Cicuzza from Cambridge The university's herbarium found fern specimens – 33 species in 22 genera and 17 families – Wallace on Mount Gunung Muan had collected in Borneo.
. 7 A Bear Claw Necklace from the Lewis and Clark Expedition
Sometimes it can be very interesting to take stock of inventory, as two collection assistants at the Harvard's Peabody Museum discovered in 2003 They came across a grizzly bear paw chain in excellent condition. They soon discovered that the necklace had been misidentified – it was not oceanic at all. Further investigation revealed that the necklace came from the Lewis and Clark expedition of 1804-1806 and was one of only seven surviving Native American artifacts that were definitively returned by the researchers. It was missing since it was cataloged in 1899.
The main purpose of Meriwether Lewis' and William Clark's two-year voyage from the Mississippi to the Pacific was to map the newly acquired Louisiana Purchase, but they also studied plant and animal life and tried to build relationships with Indian tribes. Perhaps at one of these meetings, they received the Bear Claw Chain, which was probably given to the researchers by a chief. "Bear claw chains that relate to the bravery and stature of warriors have been valued by Indians," said Gaylord Torrence, Native American art curator at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, in a press release rarely from any period. The newly discovered Bear Claw Chain acquired by Lewis and Clark is probably the earliest surviving example in the world. The chain of 38 bear claws had an intricate route to the Peabody After the expedition, it was donated to the Peale Museum in Philadelphia, and when the Peale closed in 1848, the chain went to the Boston Museum owned by the Kimball family This museum suffered a fire in 1899, 1400 items from its collection went to the Peabody Museum at Harvard, including the Bear Claw Necklace, but the Kimball family apparently changed their mind and decided to keep the necklace, even though the Peabody had already cataloged it. A Kimball descendant donated the chain to Peabody in 1941, and an associate falsely cataloged it as an artifact from the South Pacific Islands.
8 Jura Insect Fossils
In the 19th century, geologist Charles Moore dug up hundreds of fossils in places in the southwest of England, including a quarry called Strawberry Bank near Ilminster biggest installment of Moore's collection, which contained up to 4,000 copies, in 1915, 34 years after the death of geologist from the Bath Royal Literary and Scientific Institution (BRLSI) bought. However, part of the collection was given to the Museum of Somerset (then the Somerset Archaeological and Natural History Society), where it was kept and forgotten for almost a century. In 2011, these specimens, including Jura insect fossils, were rediscovered when BRLSI received a scholarship to restore Moores fossils. "These packages have not been unpacked since 1915, and some have been packaged since 1867, so it's pretty exciting to unpack them for the first time," said Matt Williams, collection manager at BRLSI, to the BBC's unidentified strawberry bank. "
. 9 A Juvenile Pine
In 2002, scientists from the Department of Anthropology of the Field Museum of Natural History reorganized the European archaeological collections when they found a juvenile mandible. The site came from Solutré, a place of the Upper Paleolithic, which was excavated in 1866. This particular specimen, unearthed in 1896, was somehow unrecognizable, but in 2003 the pieces were analyzed and, according to a publication in Paleo : "About 60 percent of the specimen consists of a juvenile lower jaw, post mortem broken into two fragments is an average of 8.3 years. "Radiocarbon dating showed that the lower jaw was much younger than the ground in which it was found; it dates from the year 240 AD and 540 AD. In the article, the scientists write that it is certain, "the human mandible, no. 215505, represents a much later funeral that has invaded the bona fide layers of the Upper Paleolithic. … While this result reduces the importance of each specimen, it begins to provide an insight into the nature and stratigraphy of the archaeological plains of Solutré, as represented in the collections of the Natural History Museum. "
10th An Emperor Penguin
Photos from the D & # 39; Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum at the University of Dundee, when it opened in the early 20th century, show a beautiful specimen of an Emperor Penguin. The bird made it in the 1950s through the demolition of the old museum and then disappeared. It appeared in the 1970s when it served as a mascot for the Dundee University Biology Society. The penguin was carried around at night and even leaned on the bar at one of the school's regular drinking destinations. Ultimately, these late nights and bar props took their toll: the penguin's condition worsened and in the 1980's he was sent to a natural history museum to be restored. And then it disappeared again.
The bird was not found for three decades when it emerged in April 2014 at The McManus: Dundee Art Gallery and Museum Collection. "We were finally able to carry out the planned conservation work and our penguin looks as good as new in his new home at the D & # 39; Arcy Thompson Zoology Museum," said Matthew Jarron, curator of museum services at the university, in a press release. The bird was immediately exhibited again.
. 11 A Tlingit Warhelm
In 2013, staff from the Springfield Science Museum of Massachusetts selected items for a new exhibition titled "People on the Northwest Coast" when curator anthropology Ellen Savulis came across a very interesting artifact "Aleuten-hat", ornately carved from a piece of dense wood, none of the information she could find about Aleutian hats matched the object she was studying, so she called Steve Henrikson, the curator of the collections in the Junaska's Alaska State Museum to ask him about it: When Henrikson looked at pictures, he knew it was a military helmet made by the Tlingit people of southwestern Alaska or earlier.
The helmet was made sometime after 1899 It was included in the museum collection and was called "Aleutian hat" and was included under the name in the museum's collection documents He then sat in the museum warehouse until Savulis discovered it. "It's very rare," Henrikson said in a news release about the discovery. "There are fewer than 100 Tlingit war helmets that we know they are, I've studied them for over 20 years, and I'm sure I've seen most of them."