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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. R. Waterhouse   [c. June 1845]

British Museum


My dear Darwin

I have just received your note, and am glad to learn from it that I shall see you soon— In the short account I sent you of the Galapagos Insects, I omitted to notice two Curcaleos which had been removed by me from the box containing the rest of the collection— I had indeed separated all of the tribe & put them together for the convenience of working them out— One of these belongs to a genus which is very characteristic of the West Indian Islands & Colombia, the other is a member of a genus which has a very wide rage—

I am just about to send my paper to Taylor for his Magazine,1 and have written a line or two to stick on the top of it, which I will copy out, & if it strikes you there is any thing very stupid in what I have said I am sure you will let me know— I have said this (and perhaps being shorter it may answer your purpose better for your abstract than the account I sent before)—2

“The insects about to be described are nearly all of small size, and none of them display any brilliant colouring. Some of the species are referable to a little group, found in Chile and Peru—the genus Ammophorus, a genus hitherto found only in those parts; others appertain to a genus (Anchonus) which is almost (I have put in the word “almost” but I will look when I go home—I think quite would do— confined to the West Indian Islands and the Northern parts of South America— Again, in the collection under consideration, are species of genera which are found all over the world, or nearly so—such as Feronia, Notaphus, and Oryctes,* and lastly there are species which cannot be located in any known genus, but which appertain to families having representatives in most parts of the world—such as the Pedinidæ, Tentyriidæ, and Anthribidæ

“But three species amongst the Galapagos Coleoptera occur (so far as I have been able to ascertain) in any other quarter, and of these, two (Dermestes vulpinus and Corynetes rufipes) are transported to all parts of the globe visited by ships,—feeding as they do upon dried flesh &c. The third is a wood-feeding insect (apate) and might be transported considerable distances by floating trees—

“Some of the insects in Mr. Darwin’s collection have labels attached to them from which may be ascertained the particular island of the Galapagos group in which the specimen was found, and where this is the case I have not met with any species which is common to two or more of the islands in question”

Believe me | faithfully yours | Geo. R. Waterhouse

I hope I am not boring you!

*(here I put this foot note)3

“It is from genera like these, which have a very wide geographical range, that the minor local groups appear, as it were, to radiate. Those genera which are confined to comparatively limited districts—often containing but few species, and also often presenting very remarkable abnormal modifications of structure—are in most cases referable to some family which has representatives in most parts of the world. Groups of high value, such as classes, and orders, are never confined to any particular quarter of the globe; and, even when we descend to families, restricted as they now are by Naturalists, it is comparitively rare to find them so defined as not to embrace species from widely separated localities— Genera may be arranged under three principal categories as regards their geographical distribution— First may be noticed those of universal range, such as Cicindela, secondly those which occur in both hemispheres, but affect particular zones, such as Megacephala, which is confined to the tropical zone; and thirdly those which are restricted to a comparatively small district such as Manticora, which is confined to South Africa— These genera all belong to the same family of beetles—the Cicindelidæ, and of this family Manticora presents certainly one of the most aberrant forms; and, although I am not prepared to say that those genera which have a very limited range always present very aberrant forms yet it is certain that such is very frequently the case


Waterhouse 1845a, which was published in Annals and Magazine of Natural History edited by Richard Taylor. CD’s copy is in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection–CUL. His notes about the paper are in DAR 197.3.
CD used this information in Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 391–2, 395.
The following paragraph was printed as part of a footnote to Waterhouse 1845a, pp. 19–20. There are some minor changes in the printed text.


Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.


Is about to send his paper on Galapagos beetles to press. Has written some introductory material on which he invites CD’s comments.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Robert Waterhouse
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
British Museum
Source of text
DAR 181: 17
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 873,” accessed on 17 September 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3