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Letter 2175F

Darwin, C. R. to Bate, C. S.

29 Nov [1857]

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    Asking for specific information about reproduction in barnacles.


Down Bromley Kent

Nov. 29th

My dear Sir

Mr Lubbock told me yesterday of a fact, observed, I believe, by a friend of yours, which interests me particularly; & I shd. be extremely much obliged if you could get me a little more information on the subject, namely the act of cross impregnation in some Balanus.—

[`I am really very curious' about `the act of deep impregnation in some Balanus', including whether the `recipient was a willing agent or adulterer, or whether it was a case of rape by act' if the specimens were under water all the time, and who was the observer.]

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 2175f.f1
    John Lubbock.
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    f2 2175f.f2
    Bate's friend, Richard Bishop, provided answers to CD's questions (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter from Richard Bishop to C. S. Bate, 3 December 1857). In Living Cirripedia (1854), p. 102, CD had noted that in several specimens of the hermaphroditic barnacle Balanus balanoides, the penis was truncated and imperforate, yet there were perfectly developed larvae, indicating that cross-fertilisation must have occurred. He had not, however, observed the act of impregnation.
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    f3 2175f.f3
    Bishop, in his letter to Bate, noted that the recipient was `exerting its cirri, with more than usual energy, & gave evidence of the intruder being a welcome guest' (see Correspondence vol. 6, letter from Richard Bishop to C. S. Bate, 3 December 1857).
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    f4 2175f.f4
    The original letter is complete and is described in the sale catalogue as being four pages long. The bracketed section is from the catalogue description. See also Bishop's reply (Correspondence vol. 6, letter from Richard Bishop to C. S. Bate, 3 December 1857), from which it is possible to reconstruct CD's queries.
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    f5 2175f.f5
    The postmark is given in the sale catalogue.
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