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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Osbert Salvin   18 October 1871

32, Grove, Boltons. S.W.

18 Oct. 1871.—

My dear Mr Darwin,

A line to ask you if you have ever examined the lamellæ in Prion.1 I have just acquired a specimen in spirits and would either report to you upon it or send it to you to examine yourself. The lamellæ in this genus are confined to the maxilla and differ in this respect from those of the Anatidæ.2 still they are beautifully developed and appear well adapted to sift minute organisms floating on the surface of the ocean.

I have not found these lamellæ in any other genus of Procellaridæ.

Very truly yours | Osbert Salvin.

CD annotations

Top of letter: ‘(Answered 19th)’ ink


Salvin and CD had been corresponding about the lamellae in the beaks of ducks and other birds. The genus Prion is now Pachyptila (common name prion), in the family Procellariidae (fulmars, petrels, and shearwaters). CD mentioned it in Origin 6th ed., p. 184. The serrated edges and several horny plates of the bill in prions facilitate the sifting of the zooplankton that forms their diet.
Anatidae: the family of ducks, geese, and swans.


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.


Comments on lamellae in Prion. Offers to send specimen for CD to examine.

Letter details

Letter no.
Osbert Salvin
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 177: 23
Physical description
2pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8016,” accessed on 24 September 2021,

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