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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Richard Owen   [28 December 1837]

36 Grt. Marlbro’ St


My dear Owen.

Many thanks for your note. I cannot let you leave London, without saying how very sorry I am to hear you are not well. I cannot help taking a part of this on my own conscience. I am afraid your working up Macrauchenia,1 must have done you harm.—

I think the new name a very good one.—2

I have a revise of the description of Toxodon ready, but I purposely do not send it.— When you return, and are quite comfortable again, you will be able to look over the whole revise together.— I will see about getting a sheet of Macrauchenia set up.—

The manner, in which you mention in your letter the prospect of all the trouble, which your part must cost you, is to me deeply gratifying.

Goodbye Dear Owen | Let me know when you come back, & I sincerely trust, quite well again | Yrs. C. Darwin

I did not receive with your note any engravings.— But it of no sort of consequence. I believe there is also a plate of head (redrawn) of great Armadillo, which you have not given me, as you intended.—


The first number of Fossil Mammalia, published in February 1838, contains the beginning of the description of Macrauchenia. The remainder was not published until thirteen months later, in March 1839. Owen describes Macrauchenia patachonica as ‘A large extinct Mammiferous Animal, referrible to the Order Pachydermata; but with affinities to the Ruminantia, and especially to the Camelidæ’.
‘Μακρος longus, αυχην cervix: from the latter word Illiger derived Auchenia, his generic name of the Llama, Vicugna, &c’ (Fossil Mammalia, p. 35 n.).


Fossil Mammalia: Pt 1 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle … during the years 1831 to 1836. By Richard Owen. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co. 1839–43.


CD sorry RO is not well and fears work on Macrauchenia may have contributed. Thinks new name very good. Other details concerning publication [of Zoology, pt 1, no. 1].

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Richard Owen
Sent from
London, Gt Marlborough St, 36
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 396,” accessed on 4 March 2021,

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