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Darwin Correspondence Project

To J. S. Dismorr   13 June [1851]

Down Farnborough | Kent

June 13

My Dear Sir

I cannot tell you where to get a dredge—but if you will call on Professor Forbes at the Museum of Practical Geology in Jermyn Street1 (taking this note as an introduction—& tell him you wish to dredge on the S Australian Coast I am very sure he will gladly take you & give you five minutes advice & Prof Forbes knows more about dredging than all the other naturalists in Europe put together2

I am delighted that you will look after the fossil bones in the clay, whatever they are.3 whether simply the wonderful great Kangaroos or not, they will be well worth collecting & sending home, particularly heads teeth jaws & joints

As I live in the country, you had better direct to me to care of my friend Profr Owen Royal College of Surgeons Lincoln’s Inn Fields—4

I am really obliged & flattered by the wish you so kindly express to send me something interesting— There is a little pedunculated cirripede I believe common on the whole South Australia ——?5 which I should be very glad to have several specimens of all sizes still attached sent home, having been placed immediately in strong spirits—well corked & bladdered up— They consist of 4 little bluish valves mounted on a flexible peduncle crossed with yellowish spines—6 There is a most extraordinary anatomical peculiarity which I want to disect There is also another cirripede attached to corallines of So Australia in deep water of which I enclose a rude tracing which I should much like to have several of for same purpose in spirits—7 I am at present hard at work on a Monograph on the Anatomy & Classification of all the Cirripedes (Lepas Balanus &c) in the whole world—

With every good wish for health & prosperity & success in Geology & Natural History | Believe me | My Dear Sir | Yours Sincerely | C Darwin


Edward Forbes, then working with the Geological Survey as palaeontologist.
On Forbes’s use of the dredge, see Rehbock 1979.
See letters to J. S. Disnurr [Dismorr], 6 May [1851] and 15 May [1851].
R. Owen 1853 does not list any specimens donated to the Royal College of Surgeons by Disnurr, and no evidence has been found of any later receipt of fossil bones from him.
The dash and question mark presumably stand for a word in the original letter that the copyist could not read.
CD’s description fits that of Ibla quadrivalvis (Living Cirripedia (1851): 203–4). This species was of particular interest because of the presence of complemental males attached to the sack of the hermaphrodite.
The species may be Scalpellum peronii (Living Cirripedia (1851): 264–5). CD had specimens from Swan River, in south-west Australia, supplied by Hugh Cuming (p. 270). S. peronii was another species exhibiting complemental males.


Owen, Richard. 1853a. Description of some species of the extinct genus Nesodon, with remarks on the primary group (Toxodontia) of hoofed quadrupeds, to which that genus is referable. [Read 13 January 1853.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 143: 291–310.

Rehbock, Philip F. 1979. The early dredgers: ‘naturalizing’ in British seas, 1830–1850. Journal of the History of Biology 12: 293–368. [Vols. 6,7,9,11]


Suggests that JD consult with Edward Forbes about dredging.

Delighted he will look for fossil bones.

Asks him to look for Australian cirripedes.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
James Stewart Dismorr
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 143: 387
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1436,” accessed on 31 May 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5