Galapagos land birds and reptiles.
No two naturalists agree on any fundamental idea [of species]. "Everything is arbitrary."
Has been with Richard Owen going over the S. American fossils.
Has worked out the non-relation between animals' bulk and luxuriance of vegetation.
The horse once common on the Pampas. The mystery of the extinction of these animals.
I believe there are 27 land birds from the Galapagos, all new except one, (a
species of very wide range) yet all of an American form, some north, some south, Now as
the Galapos is on the Equator is not this curious— Reptiles the
same— Has your late work at shells startled you about the existence of
species? I have been attending a very little to
species of birds, & the passages of forms, do appear frightful—every
thing is arbitrary; no two naturalists agree on any fundamental
idea that I can see. I had a most interesting morning with Owen (who is gone to rest for
a month in the N. of England) at the Coll. of Surgeons— We made out the rem
- f1 367.f1Lyell's classification of the Tertiary strata depended upon the proportion of living and extinct species in each formation (Wilson 1972, pp. 443–4; Rudwick 1978). CD was at this time much concerned with the longevity of species, see n. 6 below.
- f2 367.f2In July 1837 CD opened his first notebook on ‘Transmutation of Species’ (Notebook B).
- f3 367.f3Richard Owen who described CD's Beagle specimens for Fossil Mammalia.
- f4 367.f4Andrew Smith had informed CD that South Africa supported many large mammals in spite of its relatively dry climate (Journal and remarks, pp. 99–101).
- f5 367.f5CD had doubted that a horse's tooth he had found in the Pampas tosca formations could be contemporaneous with other fossil bones found there, but later in the voyage, on reading in Beechey 1831, Appendix, p. 348, that horses' bones had been found with fossil elephants, he became convinced that ‘a horse coexisted with the Megatherium & Mastodon’ (DAR 33: 253 v.; see also Journal and remarks, pp. 149–50).
- f6 367.f6Entries in the Red notebook made earlier in 1837 show CD's interest in the length of time that each species existed, and the causes of their extinction: ‘Tempted to believe animals created for a definite time:—not extinguished by change of circumstances:’ (p. 129); ‘There is no more wonder in extinction of species than of individual.—’ (p. 133).