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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Dawkins   7 September 1867

Upminster | Romford, Essex.

7 Sept. 1867.

My dear Sir,

I thank you very much for your suggestion, which I will carry out in the winter.1 I find menagerie bones absolutely useless for comparison with those of the same animals of Pleistocene age.2 Between wild individuals even of the same recent species there is a large amount of variation, and that variation Mr. Sanford and myself have used, or rather are using to prove the identity of Felis spelæa with F. leo, in the Palæont. Soc.3

I am | My dear Sir | Yours truly | W. Boyd Dawkins

Charles Darwin Esq. F.R.S.


CD had encouraged Dawkins in his plans to carry out further comparative studies of the dentition of living and extinct representatives within the Rhinocerotidae (see letter to W. B. Dawkins, 26 August [1867]). CD may have made a specific suggestion about the work in a reply to the letter from W. B. Dawkins, 27 August 1867, although no such letter has been found.
Dawkins mentioned changes he had observed in the skulls of captive hyenas compared with their wild counterparts in his letter to CD of 27 August 1867.
Dawkins was collaborating with William Ayshford Sanford on a study of British Pleistocene Felidae (Dawkins and Sanford 1866–72). The four-part monograph was published by the Palaeontographical Society. The second part of the work, published in 1868, was on Felis spelaea, the cave lion (now Panthera leo spelaea). Felis leo is now Panthera leo.


Variation between individuals of a species.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Boyd Dawkins
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 119
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5623,” accessed on 18 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 15