Fossils collected by Darwin on his global voyages on the Beagle will be digitally scanned and made available online

On 23 September 1832 a young naturalist, thousands of miles from home and frequently seasick and homesick, found the fossil of an enormous skull embedded in soft rock. It took Charles Darwin three hours to chip it out of the cliff face at Punta Alta in Argentina, and hours more to lug it back to base. He arrived with it long after dark at the ship which became the most famous in the history of natural science, the Beagle.

Darwin was only 24, a college dropout from his medical degree who had done a crash course in geology in order to join the voyage. He was wild with excitement about the chase, writing in a letter to a friend: “I have just got scent of some fossil bones of a Mammoth, what they may be I do not know, but if gold or galloping will get them, they shall be mine”.

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