As collections manager at London's Natural History Museum, Max Barclay has traveled the world in search of rare and previously undiscovered insects. So when his five-year-old son took a break from a picnic lunch last year in the Museum's garden and returned with an insect in hand, Barclay could not have guessed that his question ‚ÄĒ "Daddy, what's this"? ‚ÄĒ would lead to a global detective hunt that has so far stumped Barclay and the world's other entomologists.
Despite working with an insect collection of over 28 million specimens, Barclay and his colleagues at the Natural History Museum have been unable to identify the almond-shaped insect, about the size of a grain of rice, that has in the past year made itself at home in the sycamores trees on the 19th-century museum's grounds in central London....
In the mid 1800‚Äôs, when Charles Darwin was proposing his theory of evolution, two other scientists were disproving a commonly held notion. At the time, many people believed in spontaneous generation. Spontaneous generation is the belief that living things can arise from non-living material. According to this view, worms, flies or even mice would simply spring forth from decaying meat, grain or other materials. Scientists of the day had no idea about the complexity of the molecules that make up even the tiniest living thing.
The great scientist Louis Pasteur realized the futility of spontaneous generation. Francesco Redi had demonstrated long before that flies didn‚Äôt ‚Äėarise‚Äô from decaying meat but from the eggs that other flies laid on the meat! Pasteur definitively showed that microbes did not arise in a sterile meat broth until and unless other microbes had access to it. He and the great pathologist Rudolf Virchow formulated what later became known as the law of biogenesis: Life comes only from life. The implication of this research was that life does not create itself, it required God to create it originally. but.... Maybe, these BUGS just 'popped' into existence! Or maybe NOT!