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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Richard Owen   [c. December 1837]1

My dear Owen.

My dear Owen.

I leave you the remaining proofs of yr. descript of Toxodon, 2 and a revise of first part.— Will you just read quickly over my part.3 I hope there are no errata left.—

Will you inform me whether you will want a second revise of your first part. You will see, I have made plenty of remarks hap-hazard, right or wrong they cannot do harm.—

Have you looked at D’Orbigny’s travels?4 If not, I see you mis-understood a little what I mentioned; I have written it below, & I believe correctly.—

Yours very truly | Charles Darwin

I send the duplicate proof which you had better keep.—


This letter can be dated only approximately. Judging from the references to stages of proof, it precedes the next two letters to Owen (both believed to have been written on 28 December 1837). Part I, No. 1, of Zoology, which contained the Toxodon section, appeared in February 1838 (see Freeman 1977, p. 26). It contains the first part of the description of Macrauchenia, which is not mentioned in the letter. Owen was still describing it on 28 December (see letter to Richard Owen, [28 December 1837]).
Owen described it as ‘A gigantic extinct mammiferous animal, referrible to the Order Pachydermata, but with affinities to the Rodentia, Edentata, and Herbivorous Cetacea’ (see Fossil Mammalia, p. 16).
CD wrote a ‘Geological introduction’ (pp. 3–12). Owen’s description of Toxodon and CD’s geological introduction were the subjects of earlier papers read at the Geological Society (see Owen 1837, read 19 April 1837; CD’s ‘A sketch of the deposits containing extinct Mammalia in the neighbourhood of the Plata’, read 3 May 1837, Collected papers 1: 44–5).
Orbigny 1835–47. In 1837 only the first volume, the account of Orbigny’s travels in South America between 1826 and 1828, had been published.


Freeman, Richard Broke. 1977. The works of Charles Darwin: an annotated bibliographical handlist. 2d edition. Folkestone, Kent: William Dawson & Sons. Hamden, Conn.: Archon Books, Shoe String Press.

Orbigny, Alcide Charles Victor Dessalines d’. 1835–47. Voyage dans l’Amérique Méridionale (le Brésil, la République orientale de l’Uruguay, la République Argentine, la Patagonie, la République du Chili, la République de Bolivia, la République du Pérou), exécuté pendant les années 1826 … 1833. 6 vols. in 7 and 4 atlases. Paris and Strasbourg: Pitois-Levrault et Cie, P. Bertrand.

Owen, Richard. 1837. A description of the cranium of the Toxodon platensis, a gigantic extinct mammiferous species, referrible by its dentition to the Rodentia, but with affinities to the Pachydermata and the herbivorous Cetacea. [Read 19 April 1837.] Proceedings of the Geological Society of London 2 (1833–8): 541–2.


Sends remaining proofs of RO’s description of Toxodon [Fossil Mammalia] and a revise of first part. Will Owen want a second revise? CD has made "plenty of remarks".

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Richard Owen
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.14)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 389,” accessed on 24 May 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 2