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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. H. Huxley   21 September [1869]1

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Sept 21

My dear Huxley

A naturalist, James Orton of U. States, has found in a thick deposit, at height of 10,000 feet, in Quito, associated with remains of Mastodon, Llama &c the skull of a Horse.—2 He has sent me from U. States “the first lower molar”, & asked me to show it to Owen to learn its relations to the fossil Horses of Mexico & La Plata. This I cannot do, for I can hold no communication with Owen.—3 I wish for several reasons to oblige Mr. Orton, who is going to publish an account of his Researches in Nat. Hist in S. America.4

Can you aid me & him? Would it give you much trouble to compare the tooth with any American fossil in College of Surgeons or elsewhere?5 I know it is an unreasonable request.— I send the specimen by this Post: Mr Orton does not ask for its return, & unless he claims it, I shd think it wd be well worth depositing in your Museum6 or British Museum, as an authentic specimen.

Mr Orton ought to have sent the specimen to Leidy.7

Forgive me for being so very bothersome & | believe me | Ever yours | Ch. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from James Orton, 8 September 1869.
See letter from James Orton, 8 September 1869 and n. 2. CD had fallen out with Richard Owen following Owen’s anonymous review of Origin ([Owen] 1860, see Correspondence vols. 8 and 9).
CD refers to the Hunterian Museum in the Royal College of Surgeons.
CD refers to the Museum of Practical Geology, which was attached to the Royal School of Mines in Jermyn Street, London, where Huxley was employed.
Joseph Leidy.


James Orton, U. S. naturalist, has sent him a tooth from skull of a horse found in Quito, Ecuador in deposits containing Mastodon, etc. JO asked CD to send it to Owen, but, since he does not communicate with Owen, he is sending it to THH.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Henry Huxley
Sent from
Source of text
Imperial College of Science, Technology, and Medicine Archives (Huxley 5: 273)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 6901,” accessed on 16 June 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 17