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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Osbert Salvin   25 October [1871]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

Oct 25

My dear Mr. Salvin

Very many thanks for your note & the Prion, which I have been very glad to see.2 I could see the lamellæ very well without taking more than the head out of the bottle. All the spirits had leaked away, so I added fresh in proportion of 23 alcohol to 13 water, & have put on bladder. I will return the Box, possibly day after tomorrow, whenever I send to Station.—

The lamellæ are so soft in Prion, that I shd. think they could be easily cleaned, as you suggest, by the tongue. If I understand your description of Merganetta armata, this species will support view of lower mandibular lamellæ serving to clean the tips of the upper series.—3 In the Shoveller there is an additional short row which may be called “palatal”, perhaps to cleanse the long mandibular lamellæ; but these “palatal” lamellæ can be seen only by widely opening the mouth.4 Do you care to have (as I shall otherwise throw them away) upper & lower beaks separate of Shoveller, common Duck, common Goose, Malachorhynchus, Chloephaga Magellanica, & Chenalopex jubatus?5 If they are worth having I could return them with your M.S. when my sheets are printed off.—6

With cordial thanks | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Osbert Salvin, 22 October 1871.
See letter from Osbert Salvin, 22 October 1871. The genus Prion is now Pachyptila.
CD discussed Merganetta armata (the torrent duck) in Origin 6th ed., p. 184. Salvin’s description was presumably in the notes that he sent to CD (see letter from Osbert Salvin, 10 October 1871).
The shoveller duck is Anas clypeata (also known as the northern shoveller. See Origin 6th ed., p. 183.
Malacorhynchus membranaceous is the pink-eared duck. Chloephaga magellanica is now Chloephaga picta (the upland or Magellan goose). Chenalopex jubata is now Neochen jubata (the Orinoco goose). On the common duck and common goose, see the letter to Osbert Salvin, 10 September [1871] and nn. 3 and 4.
CD was working on additions to Origin 6th ed.


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.


Very glad to see Prion. [See 8029.]

CD offers OS upper and lower beaks of various ducks and geese if they are of interest to him.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Osbert Salvin
Sent from
Source of text
Sybil Rampen (private collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8031A,” accessed on 28 September 2021,

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