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Darwin Correspondence Project

To P. L. Sclater   23 March [1861]

Down Bromley Kent

March 23d

Dear Sclater

It is a shame to trouble so busy a man as you; but I shd. be very much obliged for a bit of information, which you can give me better than anyone.

Would it be too strong to say? that, from the known distribution of the Gallinaceæ it would be almost as improbable that a species of the genus Gallus should be endemic in S. America, as that a Humming Bird shd. be found in the Old World.— With respect to Africa, may I not say that no species is known there; and that it is not very probable that any species should have wandered so far from the Metropolis of the genus in India & the Northern Malay Isld.—1

Lastly can you tell me where in Proc. Zoolog. Soc. Gallus Temminckii of G R. Gray is described; for I cannot conceive what species is meant.2

Pray forgive & aid me.— If you were to say “yes” (supposing that I am right) it would suffice.—

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin

Many thanks for your note received other day.— I had not heard of your paper at Oxford.—3


CD included these statements in the section of Variation on the parentage of fowls. In a note, he stated: ‘I have consulted an eminent authority, Mr. Sclater, on this subject, and he thinks that I have not expressed myself too strongly.’ (Variation 1: 237 and n. 27).
The paper by George Robert Gray was printed in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London in 1849 (G. R. Gray 1849). In Variation 1: 235, CD stated that Gallus temminckii was thought by some to be a sterile hybrid.
Sclater 1860. Sclater’s note has not been found.


Variation: The variation of animals and plants under domestication. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1868.


Asks about distribution of Gallus and about description of Gallus temminckii, G. R. Gray.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Philip Lutley Sclater
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.241)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 3096,” accessed on 13 July 2024,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 9