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Darwin Correspondence Project

From A. L. Adams   29 August [1878]1

18 Clarendon Gardens | Maida Vale W | London

29 August

My dear Sir

Accept my best thanks for your kind letter of the 27th. Inst. referring to my qualifications for the vacant chair in Natural History in Queens College Cork2

I dont know if the condition I am about to refer to is known to you but it appears to me worth noting: Just lately when engaged in working up the comparative anatomy of antlered deer especially Cervus megaceros—a monograph on which species I am now engaged— it was brought to my notice by Mr. Davies of the British Museum that the left Antler is very generally larger than the right, either with reference to the size of the snags or the horn generally & this I find very general indeed unexceptional as far as the above species is concerned, by the examination of several hundred heads.3 I [believe] it is the case very generally in the Red Deer Fallow Deer & the Eastern Rusæ.4 On the left side the protection of the heart would be a consideration & the mode of attack. I have seen the Red Deer fighting in Cashmere5 & noticed that the charge was not as in the goats & sheep downwards or directly forwards but directed towards the flanks. At all events the point is noteworthy

Wishing you many years of health & happiness to labour in the field you have so nobly worn| I remain your’s | very faithfully | A Leith Adams

C. Darwin Esq LLD | &c &c


The year is established by the year of Adams’s appointment as professor of natural history at Queen’s College (see n. 2, below).
CD’s letter has not been found. Adams was appointed professor of natural history at Queen’s College, Cork, Ireland, in 1878 (ODNB).
Cervus megaceros is a synonym of Megaloceros giganteus, a giant deer commonly known as the Irish elk, that became extinct about ten thousand years ago (see Lister 1994). No monograph on deer by Adams has been identified. William Davies was an assistant at the British Museum, responsible for the fossil vertebrate collection (ODNB).
The red deer is Cervus elaphus; the fallow deer is Dama dama; the rusa deer is Rusa timorensis.
Cashmere (now Kashmir) is a region and former princely state in northern India and north-eastern Pakistan (Columbia gazetteer of the world).


Columbia gazetteer of the world: The Columbia gazetteer of the world. Edited by Saul B. Cohen. 3 vols. New York: Columbia University Press. 1998.

Lister, Adrian M. 1994. The evolution of the giant deer, Megaloceros giganteus (Blumenbach). Zoological Journal of the Linnean Society 112: 65–100.

ODNB: Oxford dictionary of national biography: from the earliest times to the year 2000. (Revised edition.) Edited by H. C. G. Matthew and Brian Harrison. 60 vols. and index. Oxford: Oxford University Press. 2004.


Thanks for letter on ALA’s qualifications for vacant chair of natural history.

Reports observations on deer which have larger left antlers than right, possibly for protection of heart.

Letter details

Letter no.
Andrew Leith Adams
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Maida Vale
Source of text
DAR 159: A8
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 11677,” accessed on 28 September 2021,