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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Osbert Salvin   10 October 1871

32 The Grove Boltons | Brompton S.W.

10 Oct. 1871

My dear Mr Darwin,

I have looked through my American Anatidæ as far as dried skins would permit and in the notes I now forward have endeavoured to give you the result.1 I fear these notes will require a Malacorhynchus at least to sift out the points you wish to investigate but if you think that I can help you further in the matter I shall be only too glad to do my best.2

An examination of fresh specimens or specimens in spirit would be more satisfactory but such could not be easily obtained. I hardly know how far serviceable characters for classification could be obtained from the lamellæ but so far as I have seen I hardly think they would furnish more than generic characters & in some cases not even them.

Very truly yours | Osbert Salvin.


CD had asked Salvin about the lamellae in the beaks of ducks (see letter to Osbert Salvin, 10 September [1871], and letter from Osbert Salvin, 21 September 1871). In Origin 6th ed., p. 184, CD mentioned information and specimens sent to him by Salvin. The notes have not been found in the Darwin Archive–CUL.
Malacorhynchus: a reference to the duck genus mentioned in CD’s letter to Salvin of 10 September [1871], meaning literally ‘soft beak’. The beak strains minute organisms out of water.


Origin 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Encloses notes [missing] that he has made for CD on looking through his dried skins of American Anatidae.

Letter details

Letter no.
Osbert Salvin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 21
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8001,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19