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Darwin Correspondence Project

From G. R. Waterhouse   [c. June 1845]1

– Galapagos Coleoptera Section—Carabides genus Feronia, Dejean— Two species; new— The genus Feronia is found nearly all over the world, but is chiefly confined to the temperate zones— It is a genus, as constituted by Dejean2 containing an enormous number of species which have been grouped by many into distinct genera, but the characters are so slight, and it so difficult in most cases, to define them that Dejean, merely uses the so called genera as sections of his genus Feronia & in so doing he admits he has frequently been obliged to draw the lines of separation arbitrarily— Now be these sections important or not I cannot well associate the two Galapagos Feronias with any of them— Had I not known where they come from, I should has said they were from a temperate climate—they are black and will not otherwise associate with the brilliant Pæcilli (a section of Feronia) some of which are found in tropical climates—Brazil & Peru for instance— I do not know which of the islands the specimens came from Harpalidæ— In your collection are two specimens, of distinct species; unfortunately they are both females, and this prevents my working out their affinities in a satisfactory manner— One I think will prove to be a species of the genus Selenophorus—a genus the species of which are found in N. America, South America (as far South to my knowledge as Rio de la Plata), and the West Indian Islands— The other species appears to approach most nearly to the genus Amblygnathus—though I doubt if it actually belongs to that genus and it also approaches Cratacanthus— Both South American genera— the latter occurs on both sides of the Andes— Although, as I have said, I cannot determine the affinities with accuracy for want of the male sex, from which some of the generic characters are drawn, I may remark that I have pretty strong grounds for approximating these insects to the genera mentioned for both the Galapagos Harpali want the tooth to the mentum a character which combined with some others links your insects very closely with the American forms— No genus of Harpalidæ found exclusively in the Old World, and in which the mentum is destitute of tooth, can be confounded with them— Family Bembidiidæ genus Notaphus—one species; new— Notaphus is found in both Hemispheres— Of Water beetles there are three species, one belongs to the Dytiscidæ and belongs to a genus which I know to be found in South America— Babington described a species from your collection found at Rio, which is very nearly allied to the Galapagos insect which I suspect is new—3 I have the Rio species alluded to from Colombia—

Whether the genus is confined to South America I am not yet certain— You shall know hereafter— The other two water beetles belong to the Hydrophilidæ, one is the Tropisternus lateralis, an insect which is found both in the United States and in the West Indies— The other is a very small insect of the genus Philhydrus,— I have a species so like it from North America that I can find no distinguishing character; a second found in England which can just be distinguished by its being rather more distinctly punctured— Family Staphylinidæ— The three specimens you found under a dead bird in Chatham Island, constitute a species which is very closely allied to our English Creophilus maxillosus and to the North American Creophilus villosus, but I think it is distinct from either— Section Xylophagi Genus Apate— The wood feeding insects you found in the branches of a dead Mimosa tree (I forget at this moment in which Island) agree perfectly with an Insect which I have from Colombia—

Then I find specimens in the Collection both of Corynetes rufipes and Dermestes vulpinus—insects which feed upon the skins of dead animals & various substances and are found every where— If a collection of subjects of Natural History (dried specimens) have not been well prepared, are sent from abroad to this country whether from the Himmalayas or Chile, they are sure contain these insects—alive!— Family Elateridæ— one specimen of an Elater appears to me to approach most nearly in its characters to a Brazilian genus, from which, however, it will bear separating— I have not yet done with it— Order Heteromera

It is in this order that your Galapagos collection is most rich in species— Of the genus Ammophorus there are three new species, one is from James’ Island, another from Chatham Island—the third is not labelled— The genus Ammophorus contains four known species all of which are found in Peru and one of which (at least) extends down to Chile— I have an insect in my collection from Mexico which is certainly very closely allied to Ammophorus & perhaps will not bear separation— Of the Family Tentyriidæ there is a new genus containing three species— The insects of this family are found in both Hemispheres— many forms occur in the Southern parts of Europe and N. Africa; some in India, and some in the Southern parts of South America on both sides of the Andes— You have species of this family in your collection from St. Jago species are also found on Madeira4 Of the Family Pedinidæ there is also a new genus containing three species— the genus has its nearest affinities as it appears to one which is found in N. America, Mexico & both sides of Andes in South America—extending as far South as Chile & Rio de La Plata— Of the Lamellicornes there is a species of Oryctes which appears to be new— Of the section Cyclica—but one species a Haltica, but it will not associate well with any of the subdivisions of that group with which I am acquainted— Of the section Rhynchophora—but one species—belongs to the Anthribidæ—not yet made out—appears to be a new genus—

Lastly I have to notice one of the Coccinellidæ a minute species perhaps a member of the genus Scymnus

The great locust, contained in the Collection, Mr White5 & I endeavoured to find out the the works upon the group but did not succeed—it belongs to the genus Acridium & I think is undescribed—

On the whole I do not see among the Galapagos insects, any which decidedly indicate a tropical climate— they are all of dull colouring & all small—if we except the Oryctes and we have a much better one in Europe as far as size is concerned—it is a small species of the tribe—I am not forgetting that Ammophorus is a tropical genus, but nobody would say so unless he knew where it came from—a small black insect—

CD annotations

1.4 The genus] ‘2’ added pencil
2.1 Harpalidæ—] ‘2.’ added pencil
3.2 genus Notaphus—] ‘5’ added pencil
scored pencil


The date is based on the period when Waterhouse was preparing an article on CD’s Galápagos Coleoptera (Waterhouse 1845a), which appeared in July 1845. See also the two letters from Waterhouse, also dated [c. June 1845].
Dejean 1825–38, 3: 200–5.
Copelatus elegans, described in Babington 1841–3, p. 11. Waterhouse named CD’s Galápagos species Copelatus(?) galapagoensis (Waterhouse 1845a, pp. 23–4).
The sentence ‘You have … Madeira’ was added at the bottom of the page and its position in the text indicated by *.
Adam White, a naturalist in the zoology department of the British Museum. White described CD’s Beagle arachnids.


Dejean, Pierre François Marie Auguste. 1825–38. Species général des Coléoptères de la collection de M. le Comte Dejean. 6 vols. Paris.


Notes on Galapagos Coleoptera.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Robert Waterhouse
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 46.2: B3–5
Physical description
Amem 5pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 807,” accessed on 19 October 2019,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3