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Darwin Correspondence Project

From W. B. Clarke   21 January 1862

St Leonard's

21 Jany 1862

My dear Sir,

I have opened this to enclose a P.S.1

You will find in the pamphlet which accompanies this, mention of probably Pollicipes among the fossils from Wollumbilla. p 52.2

Believing that it will be interesting to you to examine it, I enclose one Valve for your inspection, which I hope will reach you safely.

In your Monograph you define the oldest Cirripede to belong to the Oolite.3 But I notice in the November number of the Quarterly Journal G.S. (XVI Part 14. p 512) Mr Moore mentions one older still.4

It may, therefore, serve more than one object, if you will kindly examine & compare the specimen I enclose, and favour me with a description and sketch of it. I ask this, because the Wollumbilla fossils have not yet been more than cursorily examined. In Moore’s list (p 513--4) there are Molluscs, Cirripedes, Echinoderms and Annelids 13 genera of which I have in my first gathering. Is it possible, that the Wollumbilla collection is “Rhætic”?5 You see how many Liassic and Triassic forms there are,—with Myacites, Myophoria, Orthoceras & Belemnites Monotis &c. M'Coy is very indistinct in his statement as to their place.6 My views are given where I call them Triassic—i.e. upper Triassic. Can the Pollicipes help us?—

Pray let me ask you to give me such an account of it as I can use, in drawing up a further account of the fossils.

And now while writing of them—may I ask whether you know Mr. Moore and if he would undertake the description of the whole collection;—7 or if you can recommend me to any one who is able and would (on terms suitable to both parties) examine and describe all my fossils for a work I am likely to be engaged in, on the General geology of Australasia.8

I hope you will pardon all this & believe me | My dear Sir, | Yrs. very truly | W. B. Clarke

Mr Martens asked for your address. I think he will write to you.9


This postscript was apparently sent under the same cover as the letter from W. B. Clarke, 16 January 1862. Since it occupies a separate sheet and contains an additional greeting and valediction, it has been treated as a separate letter.
Clarke 1861b. Clarke had received from a friend in Wollumbilla Creek, Queensland, a number of important fossils that were among the first Mesozoic specimens to be found in Australia. He forwarded the fossils to the palaeontologist Frederick McCoy for the purpose of dating, and subsequently reproduced McCoy’s account and ‘rough list of specimens’ (McCoy 1861) in Clarke 1861b, pp. 48--52. See also Clarke 1861c. Clarke referred to sending CD his pamphlet in his letter of 16 January 1862. There is a lightly annotated presentation copy of Clarke 1861b in the Darwin Pamphlet Collection--CUL.
CD described Policipes ooliticus as ‘the most ancient Cirripede as yet known’ (Fossil Cirripedia (1851), p. v). See also pp. 8, 51--2.
C. Moore 1861.
The Rhaetic system of rocks is in the Upper Triassic, transitional to the Jurassic (Dictionary of geological terms).
McCoy dated the deposits ‘to the base of the Mesozoic series, certainly not lower than the Trias, and not higher ... than the lower part of the great Oolite’ (McCoy 1861, p. 43; Clarke 1861b, p. 49).
CD apparently wrote for Clarke a letter of introduction to the geologist Charles Moore (see letters from W. B. Clarke, 20 June 1862 and 20 September 1862). Clarke subsequently sent his Wollumbilla fossils to Moore, who described them in C. Moore 1870 (see Jervis [1945], pp. 82--3).
No work on the general geology of Australasia was published under Clarke’s authorship.
See Correspondence vol. 7, letter from Conrad Martens, 20 January 1862.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Dictionary of geological terms: Dictionary of geological terms. Revised edition. New York: Anchor Books/Doubleday. 1976.

Fossil Cirripedia (1851): A monograph on the fossil Lepadidæ, or, pedunculated cirripedes of Great Britain. By Charles Darwin. London: Palaeontographical Society. 1851.


Seeks to define oldest fossil cirripede.

Letter details

Letter no.
William Branwhite Clarke
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 161.2: 173
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3401,” accessed on 15 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 10