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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. A. H. de Bosquet   18 June 1853

Down, Farnborough, Kent.

June 18, 1853

Dear Sir

I am sorry that my last letter of enquiry was sent, for the very next day I received your very interesting letter and magnificent present of fossils;1 I truly hope that you have not robbed yourself: ultimately your specimens shall be deposited in the British Museum. I am astonished at the industry you have shown in collecting so many and perfect specimens, and in the great skill shown in the determination of the species. I happen to be too much occupied to give as much time as I should like to studying your specimens; but after a pretty careful inspection, I am quite inclined to agree with almost all your determinations, and I can feel no doubt that the species considered by you as new, are new. Indeed I consider it as in some degree presumptuous in saying this; for you are evidently an adept amongst the Cirripedia. I will take the subjects in the order of your note:—

Verruca pisca.2 My specimen was procured at Norwich;3 and Mr. John Morris4 believes the chalk at this place belongs to a high stage; but the precise bed is not known. I think my specimen is the same as yours; but Verruca can hardly be recognised without the specular5 valves. V. pisca differs very little from V. Strömia; but the surface of the shell is not ridged longitudinally; and the movable scutum resembles that of V. lævigata in the lower articular ridge being broader than the upper articular ridge. The plate for the adductor muscle in the fixed scutum, has I think, even in your best specimen, been broken; you will, I think, see discoloured lines of growth, which will show the true outline: I return this valve with very sincere thanks. There seems to me nothing particular in any of the other valves. I am not surprised at hearing Poll-validus = P. gracilis.6 With regard to Scalpellum maximum var. being identical with S. fossule, I cannot help doubting it:7 I examined several specimens of the carina and saw no gradation in character: moreover the other valves seemed to me distinct. I possess only a single and broken carina and cannot give it you, but I send it for you to look at: be so good sometime to return it. I agree with the valve marked Rostrum being so. With respect to the number of the valves in some species of Scalpellum, I feel greater doubts, even than when I wrote the note (p. 254), to my Recent Lepadidæ.8 I hardly think the Latus Tab. II, fig. 4 of my Fossil Lepadidæ can be an upper Latus: please look at the valves in my Scalp. fossiles (and your Scalp. Maximum) in which the valves can be positively named.

Mitella Darwiniana 9 (you have done my name much honour) I think rather strongly from what I have seen of recent species, that the small “valves spiniformes” and have come from the peduncle: this appears a very good species.

Scalp. Darwinianum:10 I daresay the narrow valve sent may be a rostrum; but the valve most like which I have ever seen, is the carina of the eocene Pollicipes reflexus. How singular a valve is the Rostral Latus! but some suspicion crosses me that it may be an Upper Latus.

Sc. pulchellum:11 I should have rather strongly thought, the valve called by you Latus infra-median was a Rostral Latus. Both these latter species seem very interesting forms. Again let me express my sincere thanks for your most kind present, and my great respect for your excellent labours. I can assure you, I never expected to hear of anyone taking the trouble so thoroughly to understand my volumes as you have done: and it has been a very high gratification to me.

With very much respect believe me, Dear Sir, Yours very faithfully | Charles Darwin


A copyist’s misreading of Verruca prisca (Fossil Cirripedia (1854): 43–4; Living Cirripedia (1854): 525–6).
CD recorded that the specimen came from the collection of James de Carle Sowerby (Fossil Cirripedia (1854): 43; Living Cirripedia (1854): 525).
CD thanked John Morris for providing specimens and geological information in Fossil Cirripedia (1851): v.
A misreading by the copyist of ‘opercular’.
Pollicipes validus and P. gracilis are described as distinct, but closely allied, species (Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 68, 69).
Three varieties of Scalpellum maximum are described in Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 28–35. In his description of S. maximum, var. sulcatum CD noted that he had seen one specimen from Cyply bei Mons (Ciply), Belgium, which may have been the specimen Bosquet believed to be the same as Scalpellum fossula (Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 34). CD noted a close affinity between S. maximum and S. fossula (p. 33).
CD had doubts about whether the capitulum of the fossil S. rutilum and S. fossula had twelve or fourteen valves (Living Cirripedia (1851): 254 n. and Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 22).
Mitella was a synonym for CD’s genus Pollicipes (see Living Cirripedia (1851): 293). In a note, CD explained: ‘This is one of the rare cases in which, after much deliberation, and with the advice of several distinguished naturalists, I have departed from the Rules of the British Association’. According to the rules of nomenclature, Lorenz Oken’s name ‘Mitella’, published before that of William Elford Leach, should have had priority. CD explained that because Oken’s work was little known and displayed ‘entire ignorance regarding the Cirripedia’, he felt that to use his name would be ‘mere pedantry’, particularly since Pollicipes had been ‘universally adopted throughout Europe and North America’ (pp. 293–4 n.). In a letter to Bosquet, 24 December 1853, CD regretted that he did not use Mitella, but by then it was too late to change. Bosquet adopted CD’s name for the genus and called his new species Pollicipes darwinianus (Bosquet 1854, Tab. I, figs. 8–16).
The species is listed in the ‘Synopsis et index systematicus specierum’ that CD added to Living Cirripedia (1854), p. 631, in lieu of giving the specific characters in Latin in the text, as he had done in Living Cirripedia (1851).
Scalpellum pulchellum and three other possibly allied fossil species named by Bosquet were not listed by CD in his ‘Synopsis specierum’. In Living Cirripedia (1854): 631 n., he explained that the fragments of S. pulchellum were found in an imperfect condition and that he had not seen specimens of the other new species. He therefore did not dare present descriptions of their characteristics. However, CD stated that he did not doubt Bosquet’s identification of these distinct species.


Bosquet, Joseph Augustin Hubert de. 1854. Monographie des Crustaces fossiles du terrain Crétacé du Duché de Limbourg. Haarlem.

Fossil Cirripedia (1851): A monograph on the fossil Lepadidæ, or, pedunculated cirripedes of Great Britain. By Charles Darwin. London: Palaeontographical Society. 1851.

Fossil Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the fossil Balanidæ and Verrucidæ of Great Britain. By Charles Darwin. London: Palaeontographical Society. 1854.

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.


Thanks for fossil cirripede specimens. Comments on various specimens.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Augustin Hubert de Bosquet
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 126
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1520,” accessed on 30 July 2021,

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