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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Walton   [1840–2]1

“I have much pleasure in answering, as far as lies in my power, your enquiries regarding the guanaco. The first I killed was at Port Desire, on the coast of Patagonia; it weighed, without blood, entrails, or lungs, 170 lbs. Another, shot a few days afterwards, was estimated at a greater weight. These, and during the succeeding year many others, were served out on board H. M. ship Beagle as fresh meat, and were generally liked. The meat, as far as I can remember, was fine-grained, not very dark, (perhaps of about the same colour as mutton,) rather dry, but not with the least bad taste or smell. I do not, however, think it would be considered of a very fine flavour; but, on the other hand, it must be remembered that the meat was tried in no other way (as I believe) except being baked in a ten gun brig’s stove, and that it was eaten very fresh. Moreover, these animals, shot in this wild state on the desert plains, were not fat. I cannot doubt that the guanaco, if domesticated and fattened, would yield a meat which, when well cooked, would be decidedly good, although possibly not equal to beef and mutton.”


Dated on the basis of the letter to the Society for the Encouragement of Arts, Manufactures, and Commerce, 13 May [1840–2].


Comments on the quality of the meat of the guanaco.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Walton
Source of text
Walton 1844, pp. 43–4

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 548A,” accessed on 18 August 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2