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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Joseph Augustin Hubert de Bosquet   9 September [1856]1

Down Farnborough | Kent

Sept. 9th.—

My dear SIr

I am much obliged for your very kind & interesting letter.2 I am astonished & delighted at your discovery of a Cretacean Chthamalus. It seems to me a very curious discovery. The fact seems to me eminently worth publishing,3 with a careful & full description & enlarged drawing of the shell. Generally I have not the smallest faith in negative Geological evidence;4 but in the case of sessile cirripedes, the evidence did appear (vide my remarks in Introduct. p. 5 to Fossil Lepadidæ) of some value;5 & now you show that the evidence is worth nothing.

Do insist strongly on the caution requisite in our ever presuming to say when a new group first has appeared on the earth. Are you familiar with structure of recent Chthamalus: I think the woodcut at p. 39 of recent Balanidæ shows well the arrangement of the comparments. See my remark p 172 on the odd fact of no extinct Chthamalinæ having been discovered.6

The drawings you have sent me are beautiful; but I have been so hard at work for two years at other subjects that cirripedes are gone rather out of my head, which could never boast of a good memory. In truth I have not the least doubt that you are far more capable of forming a correct judgment than I am on every point of the subject.

Nevertheless I will just give my impression on one or two points.— I should hesitate greatly about admitting a specimen to be Lithotrya, without I could see the serration on the upper scales of Peduncle (see Pl. VIII fig 3d. Balanidæ)7 for they are of such importance for burrowing: in your fig 1 the tergal margin of scutum seems too simple for Lithotrya: can fig. 2. be a carina; if I understand the drawing


Dated by the reference to Bosquet’s identification of a new species of fossil cirripede, which was described in Bosquet 1857. Bosquet’s letter notifying CD of the discovery seems to have been written well in advance of publication (see n. 3, below).
Bosquet’s letter has not been found. CD had corresponded with Bosquet between 1852 and 1854 about fossil sessile Cirripedia. He was the author of a work on fossil Crustacea (Bosquet 1854).
Bosquet 1857. In the published version, Bosquet named the new cirripede Chthamalus darwinii in CD’s honour. There are two copies of Bosquet 1857 in the Darwin Library–Down, one of which is a presentation copy from Bosquet.
See Rudwick 1974 for a description of CD’s mishaps with ‘negative evidence’ in geological theorising.
The passage in Fossil Cirripedia (1851), p. 5, reads: No true Sessile Cirripede has hitherto been found in any Secondary formation; considering that at the present time many species are attached to oceanic floating objects, that many others live in deep water in congregated masses, that their shells are not subject to decay, and that they are not likely to be overlooked when fossilized, this seems one of the cases in which negative evidence is of considerable value.
The references are to Living Cirripedia (1854). CD had presented Bosquet with copies of his Cirripedia monographs (see Correspondence vol. 5).
A slip for ‘Lepadidae’. Lithotrya is figured on pl. 8 of Living Cirripedia (1851).


Bosquet, Joseph Augustin Hubert de. 1854. Monographie des Crustaces fossiles du terrain Crétacé du Duché de Limbourg. Haarlem.

Bosquet, Joseph Augustin Hubert de. 1857. Notice sur quelques cirripèdes récémment découverts dans le terrain crétacé du Duché de Limbourg. Natuurkundige Verhandelingen van de Hollandsche Maatschappij der Wetenschappen té Haarlem 2d ser. 13, pt 3: 1–36.

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.

Living Cirripedia (1851): A monograph of the sub-class Cirripedia, with figures of all the species. The Lepadidæ; or, pedunculated cirripedes. By Charles Darwin. London: Ray Society. 1851.

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.

Rudwick, Martin John Spencer. 1974. Darwin and Glen Roy: a ‘great failure’ in scientific method? Studies in History and Philosophy of Science 5 (1974–5): 97–185.


On JAHdeB’s discovery of Cretaceous Chthamalus. Cites his own acceptance of negative evidence about Chthamali in Fossil Lepadidae.

Comments on JAHdeB’s cirripede drawings.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Joseph Augustin Hubert de Bosquet
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.138)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1952,” accessed on 26 February 2020,

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