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Letter 738

Darwin, C. R. to Hooker, J. D.

[6 Mar 1844]
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    Summary Add

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    Affinity of Galapagos with nearest Pacific islands. Relationship between ranges of species in time and space. Comparison of Malden Island and Galapagos plants. Affinities of Oceania plants with continental floras.

Transcription

Down Bromley Kent

Wednesday

My dear Hooker

I will not lose a Post in guarding you against what I am afraid is a geographical mistake, which I fear will have cost you some labour in vain.— Malden Isld is not one of the Galapagos, but is 4o S. 154o W—it is a coral island. It was visited by Lord Byron in the Blonde & I fancy discovered by him; it is described at p 205 of his work, wh. I have not.— I do not know who Macrae was.— & it is possible that some one of the Galapagos islands was so christened but is not now so called— you could make out by comparing dates of Byron's voyage &c &c.— I wish I cd help you.—

It will be curious if Malden isld has any botanical affinity with the Galapagos, though one of the nearest Pacific islds

A genus of birds, which I thought peculiar (Cactornis) to the Galapagos has quite lately been found in one of the Low Archipelago Islands.—

Shall you study the Pacific Flora.— Lesson, I remember remarks on the uniformity of the Flora of the islands of the Pacific, but whether this uniformity was of species or merely of forms, I know not— He says, whole Flora is more Asiatic than Indian, but I presume he is no authority.—

If you ever work the Pacific Flora, you will find the Appendix to my Coral Volume useful geographically in just ascertaining whether the isld is of coral or not.—

Thank you exceedingly for your long letter & I am in truth ashamed of the time & trouble you have taken for me; but I must some day write again to you on the subject of your letter.— I will only now observe that you have extended my remark on the range of species of shells into the range of genera or groups.— Analogy from shells would only go so far, that if two or three species of Cycas were found to range from America to India they would be found to extend through an unusual thickness of strata say from the upper Cretaceous to its lowest bed, or the Neocomian.— Or you may reverse it & say those species which range throughout the whole Cretaceous, will have wide ranges; viz from America through Europe to India: (this is one actual case with shells in the Cretaceous period)— Yours most truly in Haste | C. Darwin

    Footnotes Add

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    f1 738.f1
    The Wednesday before the letter from J. D. Hooker, 9 March 1844.
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    f2 738.f2
    Byron 1826, pp. 204–6.
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    f3 738.f3
    Cactornis was one of the genera established by John Gould for CD's Galápagos ground finches. Gould regarded the fourteen species as ‘strictly confined to the Galapagos’ (Gould 1837, p. 6, and confirmed by CD at a meeting of the Zoological Society, 10 May 1837, see Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 5 (1837): 49) until he described C. inornatus from Bow Island in the Low archipelago, about 3000 miles south-west of the Galápagos (Gould 1843, p. 104). See Correspondence vol. 2, letter from R. B. Hinds, 19 July [1843].
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    f4 738.f4
    Lesson and Garnot 1826–30, 1: 12, 14. René Lesson was primarily a geologist.
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    f5 738.f5
    Coral reefs, pp. 151–205, including the coloured frontispiece map.
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    f6 738.f6
    A series of lower Cretaceous rocks, named after Neuchâtel in Switzerland where they were first identified.
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