F. J. Muñiz has offered fossil bones collected around Buenos Aires to the Royal College of Surgeons. He believes he can complete their Megatherium skeleton and provide other specimens. CD feels he should be encouraged in his work.
Down Farnborough Kent
My dear Owen
I have received a letter & parcel of Papers from S. F. Muniz, the gentleman who has made such wonderful collections of Fossil
Bones near B. Ayres. His letter has been unfortunately lying for nearly four
months in London. It is to offer to the College of Surgeons various fossils, completing,
as he believes, the skeletons collected by me; also an
apparently nearly perfect skeleton of a new genus of carnivora, but which I have no
doubt is the Machairodus. Also those parts of the Megatherium, wanting in the Skeleton
at the College.— He desires that the parts most wanted of the
be specified. Will you do this? I presume if he ships the specimens at
B. Ayres, & sends a letter directed to the Curator of the College; they
will come safe to hand. But I should think it w
It is really very remarkable considering this man's utterly isolated position
& that he must be poor, being a medical practioner in the village of Luxan, that
he keeps his zeal up: he has sent me a Spanish newspaper with a long description of the
Machairodus, & which I hope to get translated
& if so I will send it to you. To encourage him, I
Have you heard whether any collection of bones from B. Ayres has been received at Paris?? Muniz sent one by Admiral Dupotet & is anxious to know whether they ever arrived.—
I have just read your first Chapter & have been delighted with it. Those vertebræ are awfully difficult to understand.—
Believe me | Very truly yours, | C. Darwin
P.S I did not take advantage of your kind suggestion about applying for a specimen of an Acasta to the College, as I have got some fresh British specimens.—
- f1 1061.f1Francisco Javier Muñiz, who was appointed professor of the medical faculty, Buenos Aires University, in 1848.
- f2 1061.f2CD's South American fossils, presented to the Royal College of Surgeons and described by Owen in Fossil Mammalia.
- f3 1061.f3Now usually classified in the genus Smilodon with the other South American sabre-toothed cats. According to M. Doello-Jurado, who published CD's reply to Muñiz in Nature 99 (1917): 305–6, Muñiz's description appeared in La Gaceta Mercantil, Buenos Aires, 9 October 1845, and was of a new species of Smilodon.
- f4 1061.f4See letter to F. J. Muñiz, 26 February 1847, n. 4.
- f5 1061.f5A modern abstract of the minutes of the museum committee of the Royal College of Surgeons (Archives, Royal College of Surgeons) has an entry for February 1847: ‘Owen instructed to write to Darwin about a Machairodus that has been offered for sale. Bought for £100 and expenses of discoverer.’ See, however, letter to Richard Owen, [6 March 1847], n. 3.
- f6 1061.f6Jean Henri Joseph Dupotet, former commander of the French fleet station, Brazil.
- f7 1061.f7Owen's Lectures on the comparative anatomy and physiology of the vertebrate animals, Pt I, Fishes (R. Owen 1846a). According to his reading notes, CD finished reading the lectures on 15 March 1847 (DAR 119; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV).
- f8 1061.f8CD worked on Acasta during March 1847 (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix I). In 1848 James Scott Bowerbank provided him with specimens from all parts of the world, which were attached to sponges in his collection (see letter to J. S. Bowerbank, [January–August 1848]).