Museum scientists have re-discovered and digitised a fragment of one of Charles Darwin’s Megatherium fossils.
Unaccounted for since 1845, the team have digitally re-united it with its corresponding piece, piecing back together this part of the sloth’s cranium for the first time since Darwin discovered it on a beach in Argentina in September 1832.
The Megatherium was a giant ground sloth native to South America. Growing to the size of an elephant, they were some of the largest land animals roaming the landscape when they lived until some 10,000 years ago.
The data will be released to the public via the Museum’s Data Portal on Friday 23 November to commemorate the 159th anniversary of the publication of On the Origin of Species, first published on 24 November 1859. Models will also be released onto the 3D platform Sketchfab.com.
As part of a wider project digitising Darwin’s entire collection of fossil mammals, scientists at the Museum set about researching the Megatherium specimens, important discoveries for the young naturalist. Today, the Museum holds three specimens of Megatherium. The final piece of this collection was a specimen that was in two parts. One fragment is held by the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) and the other resides at Down House, the home of Darwin.
Direct to Digitising Darwin’s Fossil Mammals
View Digitised Megatherium Fossil
Direct to 3D Models (via SketchFab)
Direct to Natural History Museum Data Portal