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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albany Hancock   10 February [1853]

Down Farnborough Kent

Feb. 10th

My dear Sir

I trouble you with one line to say that amongst the few remaining & on the cut up & previously (imperfectly as it turns out) examined specimens, I have found plenty of Male Alcippes,—indeed hardly any without some: so that I am in no want of more specimens at present,1 I shd., however, be very glad to have hereafter some few to distribute in a dry state on the continent, when I return the specimens in my possession: & indeed I shd. like a few more to examine the form of cavity, though I fancy I have made out this pretty well. You may imagine how peculiar the appearance of the male Alcippe is, when I mention, that, though having had experience how diverse an aspect the males put on, I now know that I looked at a Male, during the first day or two, & never dreamed it was a cirripede!2 I suppose after all you have done in the anatomy of the Mollusca no structure seems very difficult to you to make out,3 but I have found Alcippe one of the most difficult creatures, I have ever attempted to make out.4

Yours very truly | C. Darwin


In Living Cirripedia (1854), CD stated he had actually thrown the males away at first, believing them to be Bryozoa. ‘Subsequently, a more careful inspection immediately showed the cemented prehensile antennæ, and their cirripedial nature was demonstrated.’ (p. 555).
Hancock was co-author of A monograph of the British nudibranchiate Mollusca (Alder and Hancock 1845–55), published by the Ray Society. A copy is in the Darwin Library–CUL.
‘In the classification of the whole class I have not felt so much doubt, as whether I ought to institute a family for the reception of this genus.’ (Living Cirripedia (1854): 527). CD finally decided to place Alcippe within the Lepadidae, giving greater weight to its sexual relations shared with the genera Ibla and Scalpellum than to gross anatomical differences. Modern classification schemes, however, rely on the reduced number of thoracic limbs and absence of abdominal segments and rank Alcippe and Cryptophialus together in a separate order, the Acrothoracica. For Hancock’s view, see letter from Albany Hancock, 25 February 1853.


Living Cirripedia (1854): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Balanidæ (or sessile cirripedes); the Verrucidæ, etc. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1854.


Has found plenty of male Alcippe on specimens. Would eventually like more specimens. Did not recognise males at first. Has found Alcippe difficult to make out.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albany Hancock
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1500,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

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