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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Dismorr1   6 May [1851]

Down Farnborough

May 6

Dear Sir

I am very much obliged to you for informing me of your interesting discovery of fossil footsteps near Port Philip in Australia— The first observed in the Southern hemisphere & the more interesting from the probability of the Footsteps being palaeozoic—2 Circumstance will prevent my coming to town for a considerable time otherwise I should have much liked to have seen your specimens. Professor Owen of the R College of Surgeons, Lincoln’s Inn Fields the highest authority in the world on Zoology has lately been attending to the subject3 & I feel sure would be very glad to examine the footsteps if you would take the trouble to send or take your specimens there & this note would serve as an introduction to him & I am sure he would be pleased to give you all the information in his power on your interesting specimens Mr Jukes of the Museum of Economic Geology is the most likely man to know whatever little is known of the geology of Port Philip—4 I am extremely glad to hear that you will yourself on your return attend to the formation & I hope that you will be enabled to send home some fossil shells from some overlying bed—

Dear Sir | Yours faithfully | C Darwin J S Disnurr Esq


Disnurr has not been identified.
The specimens turned out not to be fossil footprints but rather hollow concretionary forms (see letter to J. S. Disnurr, 15 May [1851]).
Richard Owen had read a paper on Canadian fossil footprints at the Geological Society meeting of 30 April 1851 (R. Owen 1851).
Joseph Beete Jukes was naturalist to the expedition for surveying the north-east coast of Australia in H.M.S. Fly, 1842–6.


Owen, Richard. 1851a. Description of the impressions on the Potsdam Sandstone, discovered by Mr Logan in Lower Canada. Quarterly Journal of the Geological Society of London 7: 250-2.


Congratulates JD on discovery of fossil footsteps near Port Philip, Australia. Richard Owen would be glad to examine them. J. B. Jukes most likely to know geology of Port Philip.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Stewart Dismorr
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 385
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1427,” accessed on 26 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5