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Darwin Correspondence Project
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To Alpheus Hyatt   10 October [1872]


Thanks for "Embryology of the fossil cephalopods", [Bull. Mus. Comp. Zool. Harvard 3 (1872–4): 59–112].

Regrets error in attributing acceleration concept to E. D. Cope instead of to AH in last edition of Origin, and misrepresentation of their joint view.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Alpheus Hyatt
Date:  10 Oct [1872]
Classmark:  Manuscripts Division, Department of Rare Books and Special Collections, Princeton University Library (Hyatt and Mayer Collection Box 2, folder 74)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-8551

To Alpheus Hyatt   4 December [1872]


If decapod does not pass through zoea stage, is this acceleration? If hypothetical adult retained zoea characters, would this be retardation? Believes obliteration of growth stages frequently due to natural selection. Most interesting points in AH’s letter deal with senile characters. CD attributes them to laws of growth not selection. Explains degraded characters as result of readaptation to simpler conditions. Believes no innate tendency to progressive development exists.

Hopes AH visits F. Hilgendorf’s famous deposit [at Steinheim]. A. Weismann [Einfluss der Isolierung (1872)] makes good use of Hilgendorf’s observations.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Alpheus Hyatt
Date:  4 Dec [1872]
Classmark:  Maryland Historical Society (Alpheus Hyatt Papers MS 1007)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-8658

To Alpheus Hyatt   14 December [1872]


Sends copy of last edition of Origin.

Respecting AH’s theory that acceleration of growth produces new characters, urges AH to examine decapods that do and do not pass through zoea stage. Believes there are no marked differences between them.

Author:  Charles Robert Darwin
Addressee:  Alpheus Hyatt
Date:  14 Dec [1872]
Classmark:  Maryland Historical Society (Alpheus Hyatt Papers MS 1007)
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-8678

From Alpheus Hyatt   [late] November 1872


No need to apologise for not quoting AH’s paper on acceleration and retardation.

Agassiz introduced AH to ammonites and entrusted collection to him. Has followed developmental history of each species and placed them within geological formations. Found evolutionary history of species recapitulated only to a degree in individual development. Stages frequently skipped. Explains why young of later animals are like adults that preceded them. Retardation entirely idea of Edward Drinker Cope. Sends paper to explain it. Acceleration can explain degraded forms. Often like youthful stage with which series began. Often resemble old age of earlier series. Regularity of these series incompatible with natural selection. How can selection account for degraded final stages or for predictability of development? Franz Hilgendorf’s Paludinae from Steinheim lake show same parallelism in development. May be possible to reconcile this with selection. But Trochiformis begins to show degradation in beds where it is most numerous and has largest individuals, i.e., where selection seems to be favouring it. Will work on Steinheim shells this winter.

Author:  Alpheus Hyatt
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  [late] Nov 1872
Classmark:  DAR 99: 48–55
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-8655

From Alpheus Hyatt   8 December 1872


Discusses his theory of acceleration and retardation of development.

Author:  Alpheus Hyatt
Addressee:  Charles Robert Darwin
Date:  8 Dec 1872
Classmark:  DAR 145: 365
Letter no:  DCP-LETT-8665
Document type
letter (5)
Darwin, C. R.[X]
Hyatt, Alpheus[X]
10 (1)
11 (1)
12 (3)