skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

To S. P. Woodward   [after 4 June 1856]1


p. 353. Genera found in Arctic countries, & in S. Hemisphere.2

Are they never found in Tropics??3

Chrysodomus (p 109) no southern Habitat given)4 (p. 109) Cuming5 says in St. of Macassar

Trophon (I thought there were some aberrant Tropical forms) North. Falklands. New Zealand.6

Trichotropis (p. 109) (no southern habitat given.)7

Margarita (p 144) Greenland. Brit. Falkland Isld.8

Rhynchonella (p. 227) Melville Isd. &c. New Zealand.9

Crenella (p. 266) Nova Zembla. &c New Zealand.10

Yoldia (p 270) “Arctic & Antarctic seas— Greenland.11 Massachussetts Brazil!! (no S. Habitat given)12

Astarte (p. 299) Behring St. Norway Canaries (no S. Habitat given)13

(I see Forbes (in new map.) gives Patina in N. & S. & not in Tropics.—)14

p. 371. Is it really certain that Monoceros is in New Zealand?15 Was Sowerby right that one of my Patagonian fossils is a Struthiolaria?16

Is Bankivia confined to Cape & N. Zealand, (page wrong in Index).—17 Do you mean that Venus Stutchburyi & Modiolarca trapezina are common to New Zealand & Kerguelen Land.—18

p. 382. Do you know whether any of the same species of F. W. shells have very wide ranges.?—19 p. 397. Does Dr. Gould give distribution of individual species of Land Molluscs in Pacific islands.—20 Pfeiffer gives several in common to rather distant islds.; but can he be trusted?21

p. 410 How do you calculate that each Geolog. period = 3 times average duration of species.22

p. 411. (first paragraph) do you think you have really good evidence in regard to numbers of individuals.23

p. 411. (3d. par.) & p. 419—(bottom) Longevity of Land & F.W. molluscs great: is it so compared with sea-molluscs, or land vertebrata? Is there means of comparing longevity of land & F.W. Molluscs?24

p. 414 Table, what meaning of names in Italics?25

p 421. Is Cardium edule var. rusticum, found either fossil or recent elswhere, besides in White Sea.26

p 421. (4th. Par) I cannot find what is distrib. of recent species of Fulgur:27 Is it certain that there is a Gnathodon (p 309) in Moreton Bay? What is range of living Mercenaria (p 305).—28


Dated on the assumption that this is the list of questions referred to in the letters to S. P. Woodward, 3 June [1856], and from S. P. Woodward, 4 June 1856. It seems probable that CD posted the questions to Woodward, as requested in the letter from Woodward, 4 June 1856, rather than delivering them in person, as was first suggested in the letter to S. P. Woodward, 3 June [1856]. Woodward wrote his answers on the list of questions and returned it to CD, probably during CD’s next visit to London on 18–21 June. Most of the questions posed in the letter were first noted in the margins of CD’s copy of Woodward 1851–6, now in the Darwin Library–CUL.
The page numbers refer to Woodward 1851–6. Woodward wrote notes on the list and then returned it to CD. CD subsequently wrote remarks next to Woodward’s notes.
CD underlined this sentence again and overwrote the second ‘?’ in brown crayon.
Woodward added ‘= Buccinum — antarcticum’; under ‘antarcticum’ he subsequently wrote ‘[=Pisania]’. He also wrote ‘Buc. Donovani’ in pencil, then crossed this out in ink. CD drew a line through ‘Chrysodomus (p 109)’ in pencil. At the bottom of the page, keyed to this passage, Woodward wrote: Fusus Fontainei D’Orb. p. 377– — Zealandica Q & G. =Chrysodomus (Neptunea) all in Brit. M. — dilatata Q & G. teste Adams. [DIAGRAM HERE] “Buccinum” antarcticum, Falklands, = Pisania–Bivon. operc. claw-like. —— ligatum &c Cape = Cominella, Gr. operc. like Turbinella Woodward refers to Orbigny 1835–47 and Quoy and Gaimard 1830[–4]. Next to this, CD wrote ‘Used’ in pencil.
Hugh Cuming. CD wrote ‘Ask’ in pencil before Cuming’s name.
Woodward underlined CD’s ‘aberrant’ and added ‘aberrant’ after ‘New Zealand.’ and ‘aberrant U.S. Fusus cinereus (p. 380) is called Trophon at p. 359.’
Woodward added ‘a New Zealand shell in the Brit. Mus. is referred to this genus’. CD added ‘(?)’ after this in pencil.
Woodward underlined ‘Falkland Isld.’ and added ‘(D’Orb.)’. He refers to Orbigny 1835–47.
Woodward underlined ‘New Zealand’ and wrote: ‘A new sp. lately sent by McGillivray from the south (Feejees?)’. CD added ‘?’ in pencil over Woodward’s ‘?’ and wrote ‘ancient form’ in pencil at the beginning of this section.
Woodward wrote ‘typ.’ after ‘Crenella’ and then added ‘A minute sp. in Cuba (p. 473) Crenella (Forbes, including Lanistes, Sw.)’. Following ‘New Zealand.’, Woodward added ‘Brit. U. Green-sand’.
After this, Woodward wrote: ‘Y. Eightrii (Gould) Sandwich I. ?? Y. sp. p. 270.’
Woodward answered: ‘The Brazilian sp. p. 379, (L. cultrata, Cumana & L. tellinoides) are scarcely the same genus— Adams will give them a new name—’. The reference is to Adams and Adams [1853–]1858.
Woodward crossed out ‘(no S. Habitat given)’ and wrote: ‘A. longirostris, D’Orb p. 378. Falklands. a single valve, & that lost. A. bilunulata, Florida p. 380.’ He also underlined ‘Canaries’ and added ‘A. fusca also Medit.’
CD refers to E. Forbes 1856. Woodward added after ‘Patina’: ‘(Leach) = Nacella, Schum. 1816. Celtic & Lusitanian—not Arctic N. cymbularia Fuegia—’. CD added, in pencil: ‘(A species very like at Cape.)’.
Woodward responded: No! Monoceros calcar?? Dieffenbach (Gray) —— terullatus CD underlined Woodward’s ‘No!’ three times, and in his copy of Woodward 1851–6, 3: 371, CD wrote next to this genus: ‘No’.
Woodward wrote: ‘certainly wrong. see p. 130.’ Woodward 1851–6, 1: 130, reads: ‘Australia and New Zealand; where alone it occurs sub-fossil.’ George Brettingham Sowerby described CD’s fossil shells for South America.
In answer to CD’s question, Woodward wrote: ‘Swan R—Tasmania—Sandy Cape.’ Woodward underlined CD’s ‘page wrong’ and added: ‘p. 144 is right.’
Woodward crossed out all this sentence except ‘Modiolarca trapezina’ and added: ‘is common to Fuegia & Kerguelen’. CD later wrote in pencil: ‘(adheres to floating seaweed.’, presumably following the description in Woodward 1851–6, 2: 266. He also added a large exclamation mark in pencil after his original query. CD later crossed the letter up to this point in pencil.
Woodward wrote: British freshwater shells in N. India. in U.S. 6 sp. p. 399. p 384, 18 British freshwater shells range to Siberia (Limnæidæ in N. America.) Brit. F. W. shells in Tibet— Limnæa stagnalis, peregra, auricularis truncatula? Valvator piscinalis — Corbicula consobrina — Cyclas rhomboidea, Say = Paddington Canal! —— partrenseia Say. Ohio = Cornea? After ‘Cornea’, CD wrote ‘British’ in pencil.
Woodward responded: ‘Yes’. CD refers to Augustus Addison Gould’s monograph on the Mollusca collected during the United States Exploring Expedition (A. A. Gould 1852–6).
CD added in pencil ‘in Pacific’ after ‘islds’. Woodward added another ‘?’ and commented: ‘ “Helix similaris is found wherever the coffee plant grows; H. vitrinoides in like manner accompanies the Arum esculentum” Gould.’ CD refers to Pfeiffer 1848.
Woodward drew the following diagram to illustrate his point. [DIAGRAM HERE] C B A
CD underlined ‘individuals’ in pencil. Woodward wrote: ‘Yes! This is not my experience only—it is the conviction of all collectors.’
Woodward wrote: ‘There are no recent sea-shells in Eocene strata—but there are land & freshwater sp. e.g. Helix labyrinthica & Melanopsis buccinoides. The Genera of recent fr. water shells date back furthest.’ CD added in pencil: ‘than even land-shells.’
Woodward wrote: ‘Cephalopoda—marking organic eras’.
Woodward answered: ‘Black Sea p. 365. Britain p. 357..’
Woodward added: ‘W. Indies p. 379. Mass.— S. Carolina p. 380.’ and ‘F. perversus B. of Campeachy.’
Woodward responded: ‘The 2 Mazatlan sp. are correct. (see Cuming’s Col.) For Moreton B. I have no authority but Petit de la Saussaye in Journ. Conch.’ Woodward refers to the Journal de la Conchyliologie, the first four volumes (1850–4) of which were edited by Jean François de Paule Louis Petit de La Saussaye. After this, CD wrote in pencil: ‘Fulgar thinks American. Mercenaria unimportant genus’. He also added in pencil: ‘In eocene beds greater resemblance in F.W. & L shells than in sea-shells.’ and ‘Has some evidence that Aralo-Caspian was miocene’.


Forbes, Edward. 1856. Map of the distribution of marine life, illustrated chiefly by fishes, molluscs and radiata; showing also the extent & limits of the homoiozoic belts. Pp. 99–102 of vol. 4 of Johnston, Alexander Keith, ed., The physical atlas of natural phenomena. 2d ed. 4 vols. Edinburgh and London.

Gould, Augustus Addison. 1852–6. Mollusca & shells. Vol. 12 and atlas of United States Exploring Expedition during the years 1838–42. Under the command of Charles Wilkes, U.S.N. Boston: Gould & Lincoln. Philadelphia: C. Sherman & Son.

Orbigny, Alcide Charles Victor Dessalines d’. 1835–47. Voyage dans l’Amérique Méridionale (le Brésil, la République orientale de l’Uruguay, la République Argentine, la Patagonie, la République du Chili, la République de Bolivia, la République du Pérou), exécuté pendant les années 1826 … 1833. 6 vols. in 7 and 4 atlases. Paris and Strasbourg: Pitois-Levrault et Cie, P. Bertrand.

Pfeiffer, Ludwig George Karl. 1848. Monographia heliceorum viventium. Sistens descriptiones systematicas et criticas omnium huiuas familiae generum et specierum hodie cognitarum. 2 vols. Supplement, 4 vols. in 6. 1853–77. Leipzig.

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.

Woodward, Samuel Pickworth. 1851–6. A manual of the Mollusca; or, a rudimentary treatise of recent and fossil shells. 3 pts. London. [Vols. 6,8,9]


Queries from CD on the distribution of molluscan genera referring to SPW’s Manual of the Mollusca [pt 3 (1856)], with SPW’s answers.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Samuel Pickworth Woodward
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 72: 59–61
Physical description
Amem 3pp ††, †(by CD)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1890,” accessed on 22 January 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6