Treasures of the mind


In the second gallery, discover how scientists have used the priceless treasures on display as inspiration to answer some of Earth’s great mysteries. Over the last three centuries, visionary people have established fundamental scientific principles that underpin the natural world, making it so intriguingly alluring. These individuals asked questions, pushed boundaries and truly challenged the way scientists defined and understood our planet and its inhabitants.

On display in this gallery is a hand-written page from On the Origin of Species by Charles Darwin, one of the most influential books ever written.

 

Highlights 
Darwin’s On the Origin of Species manuscript
Darwin’s On the Origin of Species Manuscript
Around 1858–1859
 
On the Origin of Species is one of the most influential books ever written. This draft page, handwritten by Charles Darwin, comes from the chapter on instinct. Darwin finally published his book in 1859 after refining his ideas for 20 years. He knew it would be controversial to suggest that species evolved gradually and naturally, without the intervention of a divine authority, but the first edition was instantly sold out.

Beetles collected by Alfred Russel Wallace
Beetles collected by Alfred Russel Wallace
Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia 
 
While Alfred Russel Wallace was exploring the Molucca islands in Indonesia, he first formulated the concept of natural selection, the same mechanism that Charles Darwin had realised was key to evolution. One of Wallace’s inspirations was the incredible range of beetles he found in the region – 83,200 of which he collected. Here are just a few from his findings in the Malay Archipelago, now Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia. 


Sir Richard Owen
 
Sir Richard Owen  
 

A heavyweight thinker and distinguished comparative anatomist, Sir Richard Owen was well-known for his strong views and regular clashes with colleagues. He used his immense skill to identify extinct creatures and was the first person to name and describe dinosaurs, he was also credited as describing in detail the dodo bird.