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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Albert Günther   28 April 1874

British Museum


My dear Sir

Many thanks for your kindness in sending me a copy of the ‘Journal’. I am ashamed to say that I was ignorant of the existence of this recent edition which contains important additional remarks regarding the Galapagos.1 I cannot help thinking that the fauna of these Oceanic Islands, facts like those of the existence of the large Tortoises in the Galapagos and Mascarenes, are the strings by the aid of which we may be guided to an understanding of the forces of the creation & distribution of animal life.

Of course, now-a-days, we can account for the coexistence of different ‘species’ in the different islands of one & the same group. Also the existence of such giants of their kind in small islands can be understood, strange as it is. But the existence of an identical type (generic, not specific) in islands so distant, as Mauritius & the Galapagos, is a fact which requires a wild hypothesis2

Yours very truly | A Günther


Journal of researches had been published with a new postscript in 1860; this was reprinted in 1870 (Journal of researches (1860) and (1870); see Freeman 1977). In the postscript, CD noted that several bird species previously thought to be endemic to the Galápagos Islands were found on the American continent, and that one or two endemic forms should probably be ranked as varieties (Journal of researches (1870), p. vii).
Günther later published a detailed account of the species of giant tortoise inhabiting the Galápagos Islands and the Mascarene Islands (see A. C. L. G. Günther 1875 and 1877).


Thanks for recent edition of CD’s Journal of researches.

Letter details

Letter no.
Albrecht Carl Ludwig Gotthilf (Albert) Günther
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
British Museum
Source of text
DAR 165: 255
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9432,” accessed on 20 July 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 22