HMS Beagle, the ship that carried Charles Darwin around the world and led him to develop his theory of natural selection, in a 1841 watercolour by Owen Stanley
One of the world's most enduring naval mysteries -- the fate of HMS Beagle -- may finally have been solved, reports the Guardian:
Advanced ground-penetrating radar could have located the ship, which disappeared more than a century ago, [in a marsh] near Potton Island in Essex. The discovery has been made by one of the world's leading marine archaeologists, Robert Prescott of St Andrews University. 'I am quietly confident we have found the Beagle,' he said.
The discovery suggests that the bulk of the ship is intact and could be raised and restored. 'The Beagle is a historic icon and would make a superb centre of scientific pilgrimage,' said Prescott.
"The Beagle surely qualifies as one of the most significant ships in scientific history. Yet she has been forgotten for almost a century," Prescott was quoted last May in a BBC article describing the recovery effort:
"Darwin's experiences during that expedition critically influenced the development of his ideas about evolution, ultimately revolutionising the way science regards the story of life."
Launched in 1820 from the Woolwich Royal Dockyard on the Thames the 235-tonne vessel was refitted three years later as a hydrographic survey vessel. It then embarked on its famous career as a survey and scientific exploration ship, circumnavigating the globe twice.
Dr Prescott set up the Beagle Ship Research Group in 2000 after being approached by Professor Colin Pillinger who led the [subsequently failed] UK-based project to land on Mars with the Beagle 2.