Why the museum drawer is an enemy of understanding evolution
|October 24, 2017||Posted by News under Cambrian explosion, Intelligent Design|
Because it’s stuffed with unexamined evidence. From Christopher Kemp at New Scientist:
As he read the beetle’s yellowed, handwritten label, he realised the specimen had been collected in 1832 in Argentina by Charles Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle. Somehow it had never been described. It was stored away unnamed, then disappeared into the museum’s vast beetle collection. Finally, after 180 years in limbo, Chatzimanolis gave it a name: Darwinilus sedarisi, in honour of Darwin and the writer David Sedaris, whose audiobooks he listened to while writing the description in his office at the University of Tennessee.
Yes, this reads like a novel (film option?) but it isn’t.
The rediscovery of Darwin’s long-lost beetle was a remarkable stroke of fortune, but the wider story – of a new species being found in a museum collection – is surprisingly common. More than 1000 new beetle species are described each year from the Natural History Museum’s collection alone. (paywall) More.
The museum drawer is a much more serious problem than is often realized. Charles Walcott, secretary of the Smithsonian, had the equivalent of Noah’s Ark for decades in museum drawers, the basic anatomies of most animal phyla – the Cambrian explosion. Never had time to…
The Cambrian explosion got revisited eventually… in the 1960s.
All the stuff in museum drawers today has already been dug up and deposited. In business, that’s called a “sunk cost.” (A cost that doesn’t matter anymore.) With so much ferment now, why not fast track examining the existing information. Unless of course, we are afraid of what’ll turn up. The Cambrian plays a big role in ID thinking, for example…
See also: Steve Meyer’s Darwin’s Doubt is still doing well in paleontology (July 2017)
This evolution meeting must be significant: Suzan Mazur has been disinvited… again! Mazur is an American journalist who has been covering the antics of the Darwinian establishment for most of a decade.