From George Robert Waterhouse [April 1844]1
undergo further examination if required— By and bye the transformations of insects will form the chief guide in their classification—unless insects are unlike any other class of animals—
Some strange contradictions occur here & there when the larvæ of different insects are examined with a view to the grouping of the perfect animals, but still they (the larvæ) have already thrown much light upon affinities, & the apparent anomalies will perhaps by & bye fall into order—
I go pretty regularly to Owen’s lectures;2 if you attended them you would think I had wished him to work out my views as expressed in the paper on the classification of Mammalia—3 he is on every occasion taking much pains to show that different groups of animals are not linked together as many have supposed— The Lepidosiren is getting more and more fishy—4 Yesterday he pointed out that although the ornithorhynchus is among Mammals the nearest to the birds & noticed the general resemblance which existed between the beak of the ornithorhynchus & that of the Duck tribe, & yet said he when we come to examine this beak more closely we find that in the structure the facial bones which support it, the Ornithorhynchus is just the furthest removed from birds—5
Faithfully yours— Geo. R. Waterhouse
Regularly attends Owen’s lectures. Owen at pains to show groups are not linked. Thus makes Lepidosiren appear fish-like.
GRW thinks embryology will become chief guide to insect classification. But contradictions between classification based on embryological and adult characters do occur.
Please cite as
Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2026,” accessed on 28 April 2017, http://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/DCP-LETT-2026
Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 7 (Supplement)