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Darwin Correspondence Project

To William Harris   6 August [1850]

Down Farnborough Kent

Aug 6th

My dear Sir,

I have delayed thanking you for your very kind & liberal note of 2d., until I could tell you something more about your fossils: but first let me say that I am very glad to hear that your health is recovering. This morning I have devoted to classing & selecting the new species out of your fossils; I have numbered each on back & will return them to you with such names as I can give: several partly from their state, but more generally from not being characteristic valves, I cannot name. Perhaps you may like to hear what your fossils are.

  • 1. Scalpellum trilineatum— Chalk. Marl
  • 2. S. do or S. fossula, upper Chalk
  • 3. S.——— fossula (?) Upper chalk
  • 5. Scalpellum maximum Upper Chalk
  • 6. S. lineatum of Lower Chalk or var of S. arcuatum of Chalk Marl. 7 to
  • 7 to 13. many valves of Pollicipes glaber.

Now comes new things,—

  • (1) A scutal valve of a new Pollicipes allied to P. striatus of upper Chalk.—
  • (2) a scutal valve of a new Pollicipes but so minute & young that I do not think I dare name it.—1
  • (3) a carinal valve, certainly new, but I fear I shall not dare name it, allied to a form from Upper Chalk of Denmark2
  • (4). Very many elegant valves, with ridges prettily beaded of a very singular & quite new form, (perhaps new genus) of Scalpellum.3

I believe this completes the list of your very curious collection: I heartily wish you knew which bed of Chalk these new species had originally come from.—4

In your note you are so good as to say that you will search for more examples & send them to me: if you could let me have them by the 18th. it wd be a great service;5 for I leave home at end of this week & shall return on the 18th. & on the 19th I will commence & describe your specimens & send up those necessary to Mr Sowerby to be drawn; and it is an immense saving of time to examine all, that I have to examine at the same time. With my sincere thanks for your kindness towards me, & with much respect for your enlarged liberality regarding your specimens

I beg to remain | Dear Sir | Yours faithfully & obliged | C. Darwin

P.S. Upon the whole the Cirripedia show more affinity, I think, to the Upper Chalk, than to any other stage— pray tell me whether Upper Chalk fossils are generally more or less abundant than those of the Lower Chalk & Chalk Marl


Pollicipes semilatus (Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 72–3).
The location of Scalpellum (?) cretæ is so described in Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 45.
Scalpellum tuberculatum (Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 43–4).
Several specimens mentioned in the letter are described in Fossil Cirripedia (1851): 38, 43, 45, and 72. All are said to have come from chalk detritus, which fits the reference CD makes to wishing it were known from which beds the specimens originally came. See also Correspondence vol. 5, letter to William Harris, 4 March [1851].
From 10 to 16 August CD was at Leith Hill Place, the home of Caroline and Josiah Wedgwood III (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix I).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Fossil Cirripedia (1851): A monograph on the fossil Lepadidæ, or, pedunculated cirripedes of Great Britain. By Charles Darwin. London: Palaeontographical Society. 1851.


Reports on the fossil cirripedes sent him; several are new, some are "elegant".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
William Harris
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1344,” accessed on 13 June 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4