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darwin cracked egg

Spotted tinamou egg, collected and signed by Darwin in Uruguay during the voyage of the HMS Beagle.

 It is an unassuming object, a smallish, strangely glossy brown egg, and it is broken because of the carelessness of the last person you would expect – Charles Darwin.

Though Darwin collected thousands of biological and geological samples in the course of the HMS Beagle’s voyage around the world, this may be the only egg. Or maybe not. Amazingly, researchers and volunteers are still sifting through the vast collection of Beagle samples, most of which are in Cambridge University’s (Darwin’s alma mater) museums and botanical garden, though many can also be found at London’s Natural History Museum. The tinamou egg itself was found only 5 years ago, by a volunteer.

The egg can now be seen as part of Norwich Castle’s Wonder of Birds exhibition.

NB: For the stupidest and most gallant egg hunt ever, read Apsley Cherry-Garrard’s “The Worse Journey in the World” (link goes to free full text at Project Gutenberg).

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