Darwin and Leuckart

Darwin Specimens

Circa 1983 two specimens were rediscovered in UCC’s vaults; a cavy and an Azara’s opossum.  Inscriptions on the mounts bore the name ‘C. Darwin’, suggesting these specimens may represent something special. After exchanging letters back and forth with the National Museum of Ireland, the catalogue of Darwin’s specimens from his voyage on the HMS Beagle revealed two long missing specimens - a cavy and an opossum! Darwin set sail from Plymouth in December 1831 and spent five long years circumnavigating the globe, collecting specimens and meticulously documenting everything he observed. It was upon return to England in 1836 that Darwin’s ideas, the seeds of which were sown on his expedition, began to take shape. These ideas culminated in the publication of his seminal On the Origin of Species in which Darwin described the theory of evolution by natural selection.

Leuckart Charts

These incredible wall charts were discovered in the museum in the early 2000’s, however their true historical importance was only revealed in 2020. The charts were created by Rudolf Leuckart (1822 - 1898), a German zoologist known as the ‘Father of Parasitology’. Leuckart was at the forefront of a drive to understand parasite complexity, documenting the life-histories of multiple species. As a professor of zoology at the University of Giessen, he gained a reputation for teaching excellence, and his skill in outlining complicated information led to the production of the wall charts depicting everything from protozoa to primates.  The UCC museum houses over one hundred charts, powerful legacies which were likely used as teaching aids many years ago. Leuckart received multiple accolades throughout his career, and the Rudolf-Leuckart-Medaille is still awarded today by the German Society of Parasitology.

UCC Natural Collections