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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Gardeners’ Chronicle   17 November 1868

Down, Bromley, Kent

Nov. 17, 1868

I should be greatly obliged to anyone who keeps Merino sheep, or any other breed in which the ewes are hornless, or to any one who has the power of inquiring about such breeds, if he would take the trouble to inform me at what age the horns first appear in the young rams, or acquire a certain specified length, in comparison with other breeds of sheep in which both sexes possess horns. Or, to put the case more generally, is there any difference in the period of development of the horns in the breeds in which they are common to both sexes, & in those in which they are confined to the males? I am anxious for information on this head, as I believe such facts have an important bearing on an obscure point in inheritance.1


In Descent 1: 286, CD suggested that a character that appeared at an early age would tend to be inherited equally by both sexes; in ibid., p. 289, he noted that, contrary to the general rule, he had found no evidence that merinos developed their horns later than sheep breeds in which both sexes had horns.


Is interested to know whether there are differences in the period of development of horns in sheep in those breeds in which horns are common to both sexes, and in those in which horns are confined to males.

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6464A,” accessed on 20 April 2018,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 16