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Darwin Correspondence Project


From Hugh Falconer    [1842–3]1

My interest in the case merely arose, from its being the only 〈section missing

I have seen lately—a true Ruminant—a species of musk Deer—with the two central metacarpals quite distinct instead of being consolidated into a cannon bone—in fact the foot of an Anoplotherium in a recent ruminant.2


All that I am desirous to know about the ox I can learn the first time we meet—without putting you to the trouble of sending your notes.3

Yours very truly | H Falconer

C. Darwin Esqre


The date range is suggested by the date of publication of the case described in the letter and by the reference to a future meeting between CD and Falconer as their ‘first’. Falconer came to England on sick leave in 1842 and returned to India in 1847.
Falconer discussed the unique anatomical relations of the musk-deer Moschus aquaticus in a joint memoir with Proby Thomas Cautley at the Geological Society of London on 15 November 1843. The distinctness of the metacarpals ‘along their whole length’ was noted as ‘the first announcement of the existence of such an anomaly in any living ruminant’ (Falconer and Cautley 1843, p. 240).
CD’s notes on oxen probably constituted a part of his work on cattle for his species book, eventually published in Variation 1: 79–93.

Letter details

Letter no.
Falconer, Hugh
Darwin, C. R.
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 205.5 (Letters)
Physical description


Has seen lately a true ruminant with the two central metacarpals distinct. It was the foot of an Anoplotherium in a recent ruminant.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 13805,” accessed on 6 May 2016,