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Darwin Correspondence Project

From H. W. Bates   19 December 1866

Royal Geographical Society | 15, Whitehall Place, S.W.

Decem 19th 1866

My dear Mr Darwin

On the other side is the extract you require.1 I presume “saigak” means the same as “saiga”, therefore the animals were the saiga antelope.2 The islands were new discoveries; the Kirghises of the Aral shores did not know of their existence.3

Yours sincerely | H W Bates

I am now reading Lyells 1st vol. New Ed. Principles, with intense pleasure & great profit4


See letter to H. W. Bates, 18 December [1866]. Bates evidently affixed a separate piece of paper with a short extract from the Journal of the Royal Geographical Society (Butakoff 1852, pp. 94–5) to the verso of the letter, but the extract is now missing.
In Russian, ‘saigak’ is a slightly older variation of ‘saiga’ (Saiga tatarica; SSRLI).
Butakoff found the saigas on a newly discovered island in the Aral Sea that he named Nicolas 1st Island. The Kirghiz are a Mongolian people of west central Asia who inhabit the area around the Aral Sea.
Bates refers to the first volume of the tenth edition of Principles of geology (C. Lyell 1867–8), which appeared in November 1866 (Publishers’ Circular, 15 November 1866, p. 722).


HWB sends a copy [missing] of Boutakoff’s letter, explaining that the deer were saiga antelopes and the islands were new discoveries.

Letter details

Letter no.
Henry Walter Bates
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
R. Geogr. Soc.
Source of text
DAR 160: 82
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 5313,” accessed on 22 May 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 14