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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Charles Lyell   [8 February 1845]

Down Bromley Kent


My dear Lyell

I find that d’orbigny (Voyage dans l’Amer. Merid. Partie Gèolo. p. 226)1 describes ten Silurian fossils from the eastern line of the Bolivian (or Upper Peru) Cordillera; he states that they are all distinct, names them, but says they present the strongest general resemblances to those of Europe.— p. 230 describes seven Devonian fossils with same remarks.— p 239 describes 23 Carboniferous fossils with same remarks;2 two, however of these 23 perhaps are not new, for I see that they are not described by him, viz. Natica antisinensis & Spirifer Roissyi— Amongst his Cretaceous fossils he states that 5 are common to the Paris Basin.— There is a copy in the Athenæum, if you wish further to refer to it.

I forgot, when with you on Thursday, to ask you, if you have any opportunity, to have another talk with Murray about my Journal.—3

After being with you, I went & had a long talk with Mr Cuming4 about S. American shells, & especially their range with respect to my Tertiary species; & I find the only series, which he has not examined & which he wishes to examine, are the shells from Patagonia & T. del. Fuego. For several reasons, I am exceedingly anxious to get this done, & hear his report; but which way can this be done with least trouble to yourselves? I fear it must be very troublesome, & I send my most humble apologies to Mrs. Lyell.— I see there are from the list, about 90 specimens, which I shd like Cuming to look at. I could send the list marked; I at first thought it wd. be perhaps least trouble to you to get them out, & let me take them away to Cuming’s, & bring them back; but as there are so many, perhaps it wd. be least to get Cuming to meet me at Hart St.5 some morning: he is an awful proser & very difficult to make to stick to his work. About half a dozen from Bahia Blanca, I must beg leave to get out, for Sowerby to compare with those embedded with the extinct mammifers—6 I fear you will think this so much trouble, that you will wish I had never given you my collection. Would Mrs Lyell be so kind, as to send me a line to tell me, what she thinks wd be the least troublesome plan?

Believe me | my dear Lyell, | C. Darwin


Orbigny 1835–47, vol. 3, pt 3: Géologie.
The correct reference is p. 233.
CD refers to plans for a second edition of Journal of researches to be published by John Murray.
Hugh Cuming provided CD with information about the distribution of South American shells (Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 390–1, and South America, p. 133). CD considered the distribution of Tertiary shells an important indicator of climate during that period (South America, pp. 134–5).
Lyell’s London address.
George Brettingham Sowerby had previously examined the fossil shells associated with the extinct mammals of Bahia Blanca (Fossil Mammalia, p. 9). CD required a more precise account for Journal of researches 2d ed., see letter to G. B. Sowerby, [May 1845].


Fossil Mammalia: Pt 1 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle … during the years 1831 to 1836. By Richard Owen. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–43.

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.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

Orbigny, Alcide Charles Victor Dessalines d’. 1835–47. Voyage dans l’Amérique Méridionale (le Brésil, la République orientale de l’Uruguay, la République Argentine, la Patagonie, la République du Chili, la République de Bolivia, la République du Pérou), exécuté pendant les années 1826 … 1833. 6 vols. in 7 and 4 atlases. Paris and Strasbourg: Pitois-Levrault et Cie, P. Bertrand.

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.


Remarks on fossils described in A. D. d’Orbigny’s Voyage dans l’Amérique méridionale.

Asks CL whether he has talked with John Murray concerning 2d ed. [of Journal of researches].

Mentions conversation with Hugh Cuming about South American shells. Has had G. B. Sowerby (elder) look at some specimens.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.42)
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 824,” accessed on 23 September 2021,

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