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Darwin Correspondence Project

To W. H. Flower   24 September [1876]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent. | Railway Station | Orpington. S.E.R.

Sept. 24th

Dear Flower

I have received the enclosed photo’s from Mr Van der Weyde who is working with some associates at M. Video in collecting fossil bones.2 I want to encourage him in so good a work.— Will you therefore give me your opinion on the one marked with a cross, about which they are curious.— They seem to have to got a grand head of Toxodon.3 I intend urging them to search the Tertiary beds beneath the Pampean Formation.4 I do not want the Photographs returned, so you can keep them or throw them away.

Believe me | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin

Footnotes

The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from W. H. Flower, 27 September 1876.
The photographs have not been found. John van der Weyde was travelling in South America, photographing animal remains he thought worthy of preservation (Raymond 1889, p. 157). Montevideo is a port city on the Río de la Plata on the south coast of Uruguay.
Toxodon is a genus of rhinoceros-like mammals of the extinct order Notoungulata. It was described by Richard Owen as a ‘gigantic extinct mammiferous animal, referrible to the Order Pachydermata, but with affinities to the Rodentia, Edentata, and Herbivorous Cetacea’ (Owen 1837 and Fossil Mammalia, pp. 16–35), based on specimens collected by CD in 1833 (see Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 82, 127, 130, and 155).
CD had disagreed with Alcide Charles Victor Dessalines d’Orbigny on the age and origin of the Pampean formation (see South America, pp. 98–103). CD had included some of his later work on the thickness of the Pampean formation in the new combined edition of Volcanic islands and South America (Geological observations 2d ed.; see letter to the Geological Society of London, 5 May 1876 and n. 1). The Tertiary period is a former geologic period equivalent to the Paleogene and Neogene periods and the first stage of the Pleistocene epoch in the Cenozoic era. For more on the revision of the geologic time scale, see Ogg et al. 2008.

Bibliography

Fossil Mammalia: Pt 1 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle … during the years 1831 to 1836. By Richard Owen. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–43.

Geological observations 2d ed.: Geological observations on the volcanic islands and parts of South America visited during the voyage of H.M.S. ‘Beagle’. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1876.

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.

Owen, Richard. 1837. A description of the cranium of the Toxodon platensis, a gigantic extinct mammiferous species, referrible by its dentition to the Rodentia, but with affinities to the Pachydermata and the herbivorous Cetacea. [Read 19 April 1837.] Proceedings of the Geological Society of London 2 (1833–8): 541–2.

Raymond, Rossiter W. 1889. Evolution of animal life. In Evolution: popular lectures and discussions before the Brooklyn Ethical Association. Boston: James H. West.

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.

Volcanic islands: Geological observations on the volcanic islands, visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle, together with some brief notices on the geology of Australia and the Cape of Good Hope. Being the second part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1844.

Summary

Sends photographs received from Mr Van der Weyde who is working with associates in Montevideo collecting fossil bones. Asks WHF’s opinion of a specimen about which they are curious.

CD intends urging them to search the Tertiary bed beneath the Pampean formation.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-10615
From
Charles Robert Darwin
To
William Henry Flower
Sent from
Down
Source of text
Bonhams (dealers) 15 July 2004
Physical description
3pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 10615,” accessed on 27 October 2021, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/?docId=letters/DCP-LETT-10615.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 24

letter