Criticism of ARW for too little esteem of the role of sexual selection as agent in giving colour.
Response to other topics.
Down. | Bromley. | Kent. S.E.
My dear Wallace
I am afraid I have caused you a great deal of trouble in
writing to me at such length. I am glad to say that I agree
almost entirely with your summary, except that I sh
You ask what I think about the gay-coloured females of Pieris; I believe I quite follow you in believing that the colours are wholly due to mimicry; & I further believe that the male is not brilliant from not having received thro' inheritance colour from the female, & from not himself having varied; in short, that he has not been influenced by selection.
I can make no answer with respect to the elephants. With respect to the female reindeer I have hitherto looked at the horns simply as the consequence of inheritance not having been limited by sex.
Your idea about colour being concentrated in the smaller
males seems good, & I presume that you will not object to my
giving it as y
Believe me my dear Wallace with many thanks | Yours very sincerely | Ch. Darwin
- f1 6161.f1The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from A. R. Wallace, 1 May .
- f2 6161.f2See letter from A. R. Wallace, 1 May . There are notes by CD relating to his debate with Wallace about coloration in birds, some dated 4 and 6 May 1868, in DAR 84.2: 4--8.
- f3 6161.f3CD discussed secondary sexual characters in the `lower' classes of the animal kingdom (`such as the Protozoa, Coelenterata, Echinodermata, Scolecida') in chapter 9 of Descent (Descent 1: 321--40), and fish in the first part of chapter 12 (Descent 2: 1--23). CD had been gathering information on sexual difference in fishes in late 1867 and early 1868; see Correspondence vol. 15, letter from A. C. L. G. Günther, [late December 1867 or early January 1868], and letters from Robert Buist, 26 February 1868 and 5 March 1868.
- f4 6161.f4For Wallace's summary, see the letter from A. R. Wallace, 1 May .
- f5 6161.f5Wallace wrote on the protective function of colour in insects and birds in Wallace 1867b (Westminster Review). In Wallace 1867b, Wallace wrote (pp. 41--2):
It is the opinion of Mr. Darwin … that much of the development of colour in the animal world is due to `sexual selection,' colour being universally attractive, and thus leading to its propagation and increase; but while fully admitting this, it will be evident, from the facts and arguments here brought forward, that very much of the variety both of colour and markings among animals, is due to the supreme importance of concealment&lldots; We shall thus have two causes for the development of colour in the animal world, and shall be better enabled to understand how, by their combined and separate action, the immense variety we now behold has been produced.
- f6 6161.f6See letter from A. R. Wallace, 28 April .
- f7 6161.f7CD discussed Wallace's views on nesting habits and coloration in birds in Descent 2: 166--80.
- f8 6161.f8See letter from A. R. Wallace, 1 May ; see also Descent 1: 413--15 and n. 31.
- f9 6161.f9See letter from A. R. Wallace, 1 May ; CD discussed the tusks of female elephants and the horns of female reindeer in Descent 2: 243--4.
- f10 6161.f10See letter from A. R. Wallace, 1 May . CD did not mention the greater intensity of colour in smaller males in Descent.