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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. B. Sowerby  [May 1845]1

Down Bromley | Kent


My dear Sir

I had intended calling on you the last time that I was in London, (but was prevented) to ask you for the list of the Bahia Blanca fossil shells, which I daresay you have gone through by this time & which I am anxious to refer to.—2 Would you be so good as to send it me as soon as you conveniently can by Post.—3

I am preparing a 2d Edit of my Journal & therefore am compelled to put off going through the fossil shells for another month or six weeks.4

Believe me | dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin


Date based on the period when CD worked on the first number of Journal of researches 2d ed. (see n. 2, below).
CD wanted an exact count of the recent and extinct species of shells found at Bahia Blanca in order to date the Toxodon and other large fossils found in the same formation. He had earlier claimed that the shells were mostly of existing species (Journal of researches, p. 97), but now he wanted a precise enumeration for the second edition (p. 83). The Bahia Blanca shells were discussed in the first number of the second edition, which CD worked on from 25 April until approximately 31 May. Revisions to the entire volume took him until 25 August (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 3, Appendix II, and letter to John Murray, [31 May 1845]).
Sowerby’s identifications of CD’s South American shells are in DAR 43.1: 6–45, but there is no list for Bahia Blanca.
The fossil shells CD refers to are presumably those to be described in South America. An appendix to that volume is devoted to Sowerby’s description of sixty species of Tertiary fossil shells.


Asks for list of the Bahia Blanca fossil shells.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Brettingham Sowerby
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 860,” accessed on 20 April 2018,

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