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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Anton Dohrn   30 November 1867


30. Novemb. 1867.

Dear Sir!

I need not tell You, how happy Your letter has made me.1 If there was anything exciting my study, it was to change the manner of practical Zoology into that shape, which it must take after Your Origin of Species. There is a peculiarity in human spirit, that enables one to unite two quite different opinions. In theory people is of opinion, Natural Selection with all its Consequences is right,—and meanwhile in praxi 2 they follow the old rule and feel not the inconsistency of such doing.

It was my endeavour to try, whether my favourite animals the Arthropoda would not allow a reformation by applying Your Principles. I have worked since two years nothing but Embryology,—and I see now, this was the right way.3

The little Paper, I sent You, will scarcely be able to give a true idea of what I stated, to anybody; it is too short and the matter too complicated for such brief communication.4 I am happy to say, that the first Volume of my larger work on the Morphology of the Arthropoda is almost ready to be printed. It contains the general foundations, and the special application to the Crustacea.5 It is wonderful with how great a surety the genealogical tribe is to be stated and how simply the morphological specialities are to be understood as soon as they are brought under the principle of Natural Selection.

I can tell You perhaps by some few words one of the most striking facts in Cirripeds. I cannot enter into the proves, but only give You the result and ask confidence for my investigations.

The rudiment of the dorsal Spine of Zoëa is to be found in all classes of the Crustacea,—except in the Copepoda, one of the freshest and youngest. Perhaps there it is overlooked; I myself never treated them in special. This proves that all Crustacea have passed through the Zoëa, and this is necessary for the declaration of a quantity of facts, which without such view never could be declared.6 You find the Rudiment even in Lepas, in the Cypris state.7 It is situated above the mandibles on the back, between the prehensile Antennae.

The same Rudiment You meet in Evadne Nordmanni;8 but when I first saw this remarkable creature, I was struck by the shape of it, for instead of seeing a rudimentary, functionless organ, I found an organ so well shaped, as ever an organ that has a distinct function to undergo. But I did not see any function. You can believe my joy, when I found in a small Paper of Professor Leuckart in the Archiv für Naturgeschichte, that this little organ, called by him “saugnapfartiges Haftorgan” was used by the little animal to fix its body to the glass, wherein it was observed.9 I now understood the not-rudimentary character.

This same thing You meet in Lepas. But soon there it becomes elongated and as long as the prehensile antennae, near which it is fastened to the body, on which the animal afterwards is to be found. It grows and grows, its muscular character is more and more developed, the ovaries are placed into it and finally it represents—the petiolum10 of the Cirripedes! Is’nt that most striking? Such a change of function?

What belongs to the Extremities of the Cirripeds, their close affinity to the Cladocera and Phyllop⁠⟨⁠o⁠⟩⁠da11 enables us to follow another interpretation. The observations of Krohn, Mecznikow, and Pagenstecher state, that the first Antennae bear the Cement Apparatus,—and I think, they are right.12 What is to be observed in the prehensile antennae might be the Schalendrüse,—the homologous organ of the Grüne Drüse and similar organs.13 The second Antennae and the Mandibles, the remaining Nauplius-Extremities are lost. Now we have a labrum and three pairs of maxillae; in Your nomenclature mandible, inner maxilla and outer maxilla.14 What You describe as Palpus is, I think, the underlip or tongue (Savigny) that little bifid organ, which we meet in every Arthropodous animal opposite to the Labrum as the hinder wall of the mouth.15

Thus all is in agreement. And surely, I would never have found but by applying genealogical ideas, and I cannot tell how strongly even at every step I am indebted to Your leading ideas, that bring a splendid light into the Arthropoda-Confusion.

I’ll not enter into other chapters. I only will promise, that the first copy of my book will be forwarded to You; and surely, it will be my greatest pride, if You could say me, that there is something valuable in it and if You acknowledge my leading ideas as those Principles that Your book has impregnated on every free young spirit.

I know, dear Sir, You don’t like Compliments—and I dare say I cannot make them, remembering that word of Shakespeare: “And what they call compliments is like the encounter of two dog-apes”.16 So I am sure You’ll make a difference between Compliments and deep Veneration, which flows out of the heart of a young ardent champion for truth and Liberty. Pardon my words, but I feel it a duty to tell You them. Enthusiasm is one of the most beautiful privileges of Youth and it is very often the orgin of good and lasting things. You may therefore imagine, that it was a great desire of mine to see and to speak You, when I was last summer in England. But I dared not trouble You, knowing that Your health is not so strong as we all might wish.17 The more I owe You my greatest thanks, that You have sent me that letter, which will give me, as I might call it my scientific knighthood. I thank You, dear Sir!

Yours ever truly devoted | Anton Dohrn

Professor Haeckel sends his most sincere regards, and expresses with me the best wishes for Your health.


In praxi: in practice (German; Brockhaus-Wahrig).
Dohrn’s doctoral work had been on insect anatomy. Early in 1866, he became a student of Ernst Haeckel at Jena and concentrated on crustacean morphology and embryology (Heuss 1991, pp. 46, 48).
Dohrn never published the larger work he envisioned. He became aware that some of the observations on which he based his conclusions about insect–crustacean homologies were wrong (letter from Anton Dohrn to Adolf Stahr and Fanny Lewald, 29 May 1868 (Archive, Stazione Zoologica ‘Anton Dohrn’ Bc.60.85); see also Kühn 1950, p. 30, and Groeben 1982, p. 89 n. 1). He eventually published a series of papers onthe structure and development of the Arthropoda, ten of which were collected as a book (Dohrn 1870; see also Jenaische Zeitschrift für Medizin und Naturwissenschaft 5 (1870) and 6 (1871) and Zeitschrift für wissenschaftliche Zoologie 20 (1870) and 21 (1871) for the ten papers in Dohrn 1870, and two further papers that appeared in 1871).
In Living Cirripedia (1854), pp. 108–9, CD noted the similarity of structure of a larval form of Chthamalus stellatus and ‘the so-called Zoea, or larva of certain Podophthalmia’ (Podophthalmia is an older name for stalk-eyed crustaceans), but did not mention the dorsal spine. For an elaboration of Dohrn’s views on the remnants of the zoea stage in the embryonic development of different members of the Crustacea, see Dohrn 1870, pp. 142–63.
‘Cypris state’: the last (post-naupliar) stage in the development of cirripedes, so called because the cyprid larva resembles the bivalve appearance of the ostracod genus Cypris (R. C. Moore and McCormick 1969). CD referred to the final larval stage as the ‘pupa’.
Evadne nordmanni is a marine crustacean in the order Cladocera (see also n. 11, below).
Dohrn refers to Rudolf Leuckart and to Leuckart 1859. ‘Saugnapfartiges Haftorgan’: suctorial disc-like prehensile appendage (German). Leuckart actually wrote ‘Haftapparat’ or ‘prehensile apparatus’ (Leuckart 1859).
Dohrn evidently refers to the peduncle of Lepas, but probably erred in translating the German word ‘Stiel’, which can also be translated as ‘petiole’. In Dohrn 1870, pp. 154–6, Dohrn argued that the peduncle (Stiel) was derived from an organ homologous with the suctorial disc of Daphnia and the Phyllopoda, which he had interpreted as the rudiment of the zoea spine (Zoëastachel).
The Cladocera and Phyllopoda were formerly suborders of the order Branchiopoda (Ziegler ed. 1909); in modern classification, Cladocera is a suborder and Phyllopoda a subclass of the class Branchiopoda (see J. W. Martin and Davis 2001).
The references are to August David Krohn, Ilya Ilyich Mechnikov, and Heinrich Alexander Pagenstecher. Krohn’s observations were published in Krohn 1860. For CD’s view of the homologies of these organs, see the letter to Anton Dohrn, 26 November [1867] and n. 5. Dohrn later revised his position on the homologies and agreed with CD’s interpretation (see Dohrn 1870, pp. 156, 172).
‘Schalendrüse’: shell gland (maxillary gland; see R. C. Moore and McCormick 1969). ‘Grüne Drüse’: green gland (antennal gland; see R. C. Moore and McCormick 1969). Dohrn’s view that the shell gland in cirripedes and green gland in decapods were homologous organs was evidently derived from Fritz Müller (see F. Müller 1864, p. 61, and Dallas trans. 1869, pp. 90–1).
Dohrn refers to CD’s nomenclature in Living Cirripedia (1851), but in Living Cirripedia (1854), p. 107, CD wrote that he considered his first impression that the limbs were mandibles and two pairs of maxillae as untenable (see Newman 1993, pp. 374–5, for a discussion of CD’s interpretation of the homologies).
Palpus: oval setose mandibular endopod of cirripedes, attached directly to the mandible in the Acrothoracica or to the lateral margin of the labrum in the Thoracica (R. C. Moore and McCormick 1969; see also Living Cirripedia (1854), pp. 664–6 and plate 26). Dohrn also refers to Marie Jules César Lelorgne de Savigny.
As you like it, 2.5.26–7: ‘but that they call compliment is like the encounter of two dog-apes’.
Dohrn had attended the annual meeting of the British Association held at Dundee from 4 to 11 September 1867 (Report of the thirty-seventh meeting of the British Association for the Advancement of Science held at Dundee, p. lxxiii). For more on Dohrn’s activities in England and Scotland in the summer of 1867, see Heuss 1991, pp. 60–5. Dohrn had probably been told about CD’s health by Haeckel (see n. 3, above). Haeckel had visited CD in October 1866 (see Correspondence vol. 14, letter to Ernst Haeckel, [20 October 1866]).


Brockhaus-Wahrig: Brockhaus-Wahrig: deutsches Wörterbuch. Edited by Gerhard Wahrig et al. 6 vols. Wiesbaden: Brockhaus. Stuttgart: Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt. 1980–4.

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Dohrn, Anton. 1867. On the morphology of the Arthropoda. [Read before the British Association, 5 September 1867.] Journal of Anatomy and Physiology 2 (1868): 80–6.

Dohrn, Anton. 1870. Untersuchungen über Bau und Entwicklung der Arthropoden. 2 parts. Leipzig: W. Engelmann.

Groeben, Christiane, ed. 1982. Charles Darwin 1809–1882, Anton Dohrn 1840–1909: correspondence. Naples: Macchiaroli.

Heuss, Theodor. 1991. Anton Dohrn: a life for science. Translated from the German by Liselotte Dieckmann. Berlin and New York: Springer Verlag.

Leuckart, Rudolf. 1859. Über das Vorkommen eines saugnapfartigen Haftapparates bei den Daphniaden und verwandten Krebsen. Archiv für Naturgeschichte 25: 262–5.

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.

Newman, William A. 1993. Darwin and cirripedology. History of Carcinology. Crustacean Issues 8: 349–434.


Pleased by CD’s letter; his object was to apply CD’s principles to the reform of zoology. When this is done, it is wonderful to see how improved one’s understanding of the Crustacea (Arthropoda) becomes. Cites examples.

Letter details

Letter no.
Felix Anton (Anton) Dohrn
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 203
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5701,” accessed on 1 December 2021,

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