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Darwin Correspondence Project

From S. P. Woodward   [15 July 1856]1

Lusitanian Shells of wide range beyond the Province.2


Helix pulchella, Europe generally; Madeira; Caucasus; Tibet; Cape (introduced); Mass. Missouri — Costata, Brit. Sweden, Russia, Caucasus; Iskardo, Tibet 7200 feet. — fulva. Brit. Sweden. US. Georgia (Say) Mass. (Gould) Russ. Caucasus — ruderata, Brit. (fossil) Sweden–Finland, Russia, Stanowoj Mtns, E. Siberia. =? striatella, Anth. US. Vermont, Ohio. Helicella pura, Alder. Brit. Germany, Switz. Russia. E. Siberia; US. Mass. (Gould) — cellaria, Europe; (Cape; N. Zealand;) U. States. Sweden — nitida, Müll. Brit. Iskardo, Tibet. Finmark, Sweden. Mass. US. (arborea, Say) Zua lubrica, Brit. Sweden. Madeira; Iskardo. N. West Territory. Mass. US. Oregon. Succinea amphibia (varieties of) Brit. Sweden Kashmir. U. States. Vitrina pellucida. Brit. Sweden. Greenland (V. “Angelicæ”) U.S. N. England. (V. “Americana”) Limnæa stagnalis, Brit. Sweden— Bercsov, N. Lat. 63o Irkutsk. Kashmir; speciosus, Rossm. + fragilis, Mont. = L. jugularis. Port Vancover, Oregon—Canada. — palustris, Brit. Bernaul, Irkutsk—52o = ? elodes, Say. Mass. — truncatula, Brit. Sweden Bercsov. 63o Tomsk. Iskardo; Candahar; Madeira— = ? desidiosa, Missi.— Atlantic, 35o–45o Lat. — peregra Brit. + Tibet. Siberia 63o Sweden — auricularia Physa hypnorum, Brit. Siberia 70o U. States (Ohio) Cyclas calyculata (= C. partumeia, Say) Sweden. Brit.— Kamtschatka Europe— US. —rhomboidea, Say. U.S.— Lake Champlain. Paddington Canal! An. N. H. June 1856— Valvata piscinalis, Brit. Sweden + Kashmir. Unio margaritiferus, Brit. Sweden, U. States. Labrador. Oregonramme

It must be observed that Latitude is not of so much consequence as the antiquity of the land, or its elevation.

The mountain ranges of Scandinavia, & Central Asia, & the northern part of the Alleghanies, equally belong to the “Arctic Province”—& formed centres from which the species which escaped the Glacial subsidence again diffused themselves—or indeed were driven by the descent of the snow-line. The plain of Kashmir is 5,300 feet above the sea— Iskardo Tibet, 7,200 feet—& the Brit. Limnæa peregra is said to have been found at 18000 feet in Tibet.— I have not yet asked Dr Hooker about it.

The high antiquity of these wide-spread shells is proved in the case of Helix ruderata & pulchella, Zua lubrica & Helicella nitida by their occurrence in the older Pliocene, along with Elephas merid. Rhinoceros leptorhinus & Mastodon—animals which became extinct & were succeeded by another set, in their turn to disappear whilst these land-shells continued to exist!3

CD annotations

1.2 Helix pulchella,] ‘Ancient’ added pencil
1.2 Madeira] double underl pencil
1.10 — nitida,] ‘Ancient’ added pencil
1.11 Zua lubrica,] ‘Ancient’ added pencil
1.11 Madeira] underl pencil
double scored pencil
Top of first page: ‘19’4 brown crayon


According to the letter from S. P. Woodward, 15 July 1856, Woodward intended to compile this list on the evening of 15 July. Both the list and the letter were received by CD by 18 July (see letter to S. P. Woodward, 18 July 1856).
The list expands on the information given in Woodward 1856b, p. 186.
The same information is given in Woodward 1856b, p. 187. CD cited Woodward to this effect in Natural selection, p. 539. Helix pulchella is a synonym of Vallonia pulchella, the lovely vallonia; H. costata is a synonym of Vallonia costata, the costate vallonia; H. fulva is a synonym of Euconulus fulvus subsp. fulvus, the brown hive; H. ruderata is a synonym of Discus ruderatus, the brown disc snail; H. striatella is a synonym of Discus whitneyi, the forest disc. Helicella pura is a synonym of Aegopinella pura, the clear glass snail; H. cellaria is a synonym of Oxychilus cellarius, the cellar glass snail; H. nitida is a synonym of Zonitoides nitidus, the black gloss; H. arborea is a synonym of Zonitoides arboreus, the quick gloss. Zua lubrica is a synonym of Cochlicopa lubrica, the glossy pillar snail; Succinea amphibia is a synonym of S. putris, the European ambersnail; Vitrina pellucida is the pellucid glass snail; V. angelicae is the eastern glass-snail; V. americana is a synonym of V. angelicae. Lymnaea stagnalis is the great pondsnail; L. jugularis is a synonym of L. stagnalis. Limnaea palustris is a synonym of Stagnicola palustris, the common European pondsnail; L. elodes is a synonym of Ladislavella elodes, the marsh pondsnail; L. truncatula is a synonym of Galba truncatula, the attenuate fossaria; L. desidiosa is another synonym of Ladislavella elodes; L. peregra is a synonym of Peregriana peregra; L. auricularia is a synonym of Radix auricularia, the big-eared radix. Physa hypnorum is a synonym of Aplexa hypnorum, the moss bladder snail. Cyclas calyculata and C. partumeia are synonyms of Musculium partumeium, the swamp fingernailclam; C. rhomboidea is a synonym of Sphaerium rhomboideum, the rhomboid fingernailclam. Valvata piscinalis is the European stream valvata. Unio margaritifera (‘margaritiferus’ is a misspelling) is a synonym of Margaritifera margaritifera, the eastern pearlshell. Elephas meridionalis is a synonym of Mammuthus meridionalis, the southern mammoth. Rhinoceros leptorhinusis an extinct rhinoceros found in France and Belgium. Mastodon is a genus of extinct elephants.
The number of CD’s portfolio of notes on the geographical distribution of animals.


Natural selection: Charles Darwin’s Natural selection: being the second part of his big species book written from 1856 to 1858. Edited by R. C. Stauffer. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1975.


Lists Lusitanian shells with wide ranges beyond that geographical province.

Antiquity and elevation of land mass is more important than latitude for the distribution of shells.

Letter details

Letter no.
Samuel Pickworth Woodward
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Source of text
DAR 205.3: 305
Physical description
inc †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1928,” accessed on 30 January 2023,

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