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Darwin Correspondence Project

To S. P. Woodward   9 June [1851]

Down Farnborough | Kent

June 9th.

My dear Sir

I shd. be very much obliged to you, if you would take the trouble to inform me, (if you know, or can find out without much trouble) a reference to Kölliker’s Paper on the male Argonaut1 which you showed me in Brit. Museum. I read it somewhere, & I believe in Annales des Sciences,2 & made an extract, but I have unfortunately lost it.— I cannot remember hardly anything about them: are they permanently fixed on the female? Will you just tell me this, for it will be a chance whether I can borrow any Book with an account, & I want to refer to this creature soon.3

Also how does the Male get to the female & how does it obtain its food? I hope you will excuse this trouble, which I cause by having in the most provoking way lost an extract which I well remember making—

Kindest Remembrances to Waterhouse.4

My dear Sir | Yours sincerely | C. Darwin


CD may have been thinking of an earlier paper by Rudolf Albert von Kölliker in the Annales des Sciences Naturelles on the sexual organs and seminal fluids of crustaceans and cirripedes (Kölliker 1843). The paper on the male argonaut, which had been read in April and May 1845 at the Linnean Society of London, was printed in the Transactions of 1851, but it would probably have been available as a separate issue before that date.
In his discussion of the male of Ibla cumingii, CD cited as an analogy: ‘The extraordinary case of the Hectocotyle, originally described as a worm parasitic on certain Cephalopoda, but now shown by Kölliker to be the male of the species to which it is attached’ (Living Cirripedia (1851): 200). Kölliker’s belief that the hectocotylus was the long sought for male of the Argonauta, arrested in its development and parasitic on the female, was corrected in 1852 (Vérany and Vogt 1852). In Living Cirripedia (1854): 23 n., CD reported that: ‘the worm-like Hectocotyle, which … was quite lately supposed to be a male Cephalopod … has now been ascertained to be only one of the arms of the male wonderfully adapted and organised as a sperm-receptacle.’
Woodward and George Robert Waterhouse were both on the staff of the mineralogy and geology department at the British Museum.


Kölliker, Rudolf Albert von. 1851. Some observations upon the structure of two new species of Hectocotyle, parasitic upon Tremoctopus violaceus, D. Ch., and Argonauta argo, Linn.; with an exposition of the hypothesis that these Hectocotylæ are the males of the Cephalopoda upon which they are found. [Read 15 April and 6 May 1845.] Transactions of the Linnean Society of London 20: 9–21.

Living Cirripedia (1851): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Lepadidæ; or, pedunculated cirripedes. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1851.

Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.


Asks for reference to article by Kölliker, ["Some observations on the structure of two new species of Hectocotyle", Trans. Linn. Soc. Lond. 22 (1851): 9–22]. Asks for information.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Samuel Pickworth Woodward
Sent from
Source of text
Cleveland Health Sciences Library
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1435,” accessed on 27 September 2021,

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