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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Dawkins   17 July 1869

Gungrog. | Welsh Pool.

17 July 1869

My dear Sir,

Your very kind note was forwarded from London here, and reached me this morning.1

I should very much like to see the bones etc that you have obtained from Ruthin, and would run over to see the fissure, if you could put me in the way of doing so.2 I am staying here for 14 days, after which I return home to

Norman Road, Rusholme, | Manchester, where,

if you will be kind enough to send the remains, I will try to make out the species.

That Ruthin district is very interesting, and ought to furnish large numbers of cave-beasts. The Cefn cave contained the rare R. leptorhinus.3

I am delighted to see how fast Geolog. evidence is being discovered in favor of the ‘Development Theory’. This last week, I read a paper of Prof. Owen’s in which three species of S. American “Hippidian” (Ow) fill up in great measure the blank between Horse and Hipparians   This discovery makes Mr. Gaudry’s genealog of Horse very complete.4

The small sketch of the British mammals, (Pleistocene) is very incomplete: but at some future time I hope to fill it in, and to finish the details.5

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

Charles Darwin Esq. F.R.S


CD’s letter to Dawkins has not been found.
Dawkins refers to prehistoric bones that had been collected from a cave near Corwen in the hills south of the town of Ruthin in Wales and given to CD (for more on CD’s acquisition of the bones, see Lucas 2007, pp. 325–6).
Cefn cave is one of a group of Palaeolithic and later caves in the lower Elwy valley near Denbigh. Dawkins had written a paper on the dentition of Rhinoceros leptorhinus (Dawkins 1867).
In his paper ‘On fossil remains of equines from Central and South America’ (Owen 1869), Richard Owen proposed the group name ‘Hippidion’ for three species of extinct American horses (Owen 1869, p. 572). ‘Hipparion’ was a group of extinct old-world horses. Albert Gaudry had discussed the group in ‘Sur les Hipparions’ (Gaudry 1865).
Dawkins refers to Dawkins and Sanford 1866–72.


Gaudry, Albert. 1865. Sur les Hipparions. Bulletin de la Société Géologique de France 22: 21–4.

Lucas, Peter. 2007. Charles Darwin, ‘little Dawkins’ and the platycnemic Yale men: introducing a bioarchaeological tale of the descent of man. Archives of Natural History 34: 318–45.

Owen, Richard. 1869. On fossil remains of equines from Central and South America referable to Equus conversidens, Ow., Equus tau, Ow., and Equus arcidens, Ow. [Read 4 February 1869.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 159: 559–73.


On the genealogy of the horse.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Boyd Dawkins
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 162: 123
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6834,” accessed on 29 November 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17