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Darwin Correspondence Project

From Charles John Andersson   [6 April 1856]1

with regard to the beau ideal satisfactorily; for amongst us Europeans it is well known that one man selects his partner for a handsome face, whilst another make his choice of a good figure without much regard to beauty. All I can say is that savages generally select their partners more for any attraction the body may posses than for beauty of face.2

By the by have you not described somewhere the flesh of the Puma as palatable3 Did you ever taste the flesh of lions? I find opinions vary greatly with regard to the flavour of its flesh—

With kindest Regards | Yours very truly | Chs. J. Andersson Chs. Darwin, Esqre.

CD annotations

crossed pencil
Bottom of second page: ‘Apr 6—1856’pencil


Dated by an endorsement in CD’s hand, presumably repeating the date given on the missing page of the letter (see CD’s annotations). This fragment was preserved in a portfolio of notes on sexual selection used in preparing Descent.
Andersson was a Swedish-born explorer of Africa. CD also asked Walter Baldock Durrant Mantell the same question about sexual selection among indigenous populations (see letter to W. B. D. Mantell, 10 April [1856]). Mantell was cited in Descent.
In Journal of researches, p. 135, CD reported having eaten puma meat on a journey from Patagones to Buenos Aires and pronounced it ‘remarkably like veal in taste’.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.


European men choose partners for different reasons. Savages select more for bodily attraction than facial beauty.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles John (Carl Johann) Andersson
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 85: A102
Physical description
ALS 2pp inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1850,” accessed on 5 March 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 6