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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Armand de Quatrefages1   [14 April 1863]2

Ce nâta est pour vous, un cas excellent car la race est bien établie et doit tirer son origine de l’Amérique du Sud.3 C’est une race très-singulière. Une courte description de la tête a été faite par le professeur Owen dans le Catalogue descriptif de la collection ostéologique du collège des chirurgiens, 1853 page 624. Vous y verrez que la connexion des os est modifiée, car le maxillaire ne s’unit pas aux os du nez.4

En examinant un grand nombre de squelettes de lapins, de canards, de poulets et de pigeons, j’ai rencontré plusieurs modifications remarquables dans les squelettes; mais comme elles ne sont pas encore publiées, vous ne pourriez en tirer aucun parti.5 Le pigeon Powter (grosse-gorge ou boulans) descendant certainement du Columba Livia, est un cas intéressant car il a l’œsophage très-amplifié et modifié.6

Dans le premier chapitre de mon Origine de l’Espèce, vous trouverez un extrait des modifications remarquables chez les pigeons.7

Les poulets ‘a crête, ou, comme nous les appelons, polish fowls, sont un excellent cas;8 ils produisent parfaitement bien; autrefois, il n’y avait qu’un sexe dont le crâne fût affecté, maintenant les deux sexes sont affectés. J’insère ici une gravure sur bois très-bien faite.9 J’ai examiné beaucoup de crânes. Il y a un changement étonnant de forme dans le cerveau lui-même, et dans l’intérieur du crâne, en outre du changement des os extérieurs.

Footnotes

CD’s original letter has not been found. For a translation of this text, see Correspondence vol.11, Appendix I. The extant portion of the letter-text was published in the Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863): 378–9. Quatrefages probably translated this portion for his presentation to the Société d’Anthropologie (see n. 2, below).
The date was given by Quatrefages when he introduced the letter in a discussion at the Société d’Anthropologie on 16 July 1863 (Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863): 378).
See letter from Armand de Quatrefages, [28 March –] 11 April 1863 and nn. 7, 8, and 9. CD thought that niata were a useful example of the environment’s effect on anatomical form; the breed had been selected from cattle imported from Europe (Variation 1: 88–91).
Niata were described in Owen [1853], 2: 3832 (see also Variation 1: 89–91). For Quatrefages’s presentation of photographs of the niata skull at discussions of the Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, see the letter from Armand de Quatrefages, 19 May [1863] and n. 4.
CD published this material in Variation 1: 103–304. Variation was not published until 1868; Quatrefages read this letter of CD’s to the Société d’Anthropologie on 16 July 1863, and a report of William Bernhard Tegetmeier’s presentation of a Polish or crested breed of fowl to the Zoological Society of London (Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863), pp. 378–80; see Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 25 November 1856, pp. 366–8). CD may have mentioned this Zoological Society report to Quatrefages in the missing portion of this letter; he cited his reliance on Tegetmeier’s information on poultry in Variation 1: 225 (see nn. 8 and 9, below). Quatrefages briefly mentioned examples of variation in poultry to the Société d’Anthropologie on 7 May and 2 July (see Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863): 273, 350–1).
An engraving and description of the Pouter pigeon is provided in Variation 1: 137–9.
Origin, pp. 20–8.
The Polish or crested breed of fowl and its sub-breeds are described in Variation 1: 227–30.
The enclosure has not been found, but a woodcut of the Polish fowl appears in Variation 1: 229.

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

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

Translation

To Armand de Quatrefages1   [14 April 1863]2

This nãta is an excellent case for you because the race is well established and must derive its origin from South America.3 It is a very singular race. A short description of the head was made by Professor Owen in the Descriptive catalogue of the osteological collection of the College of Surgeons, 1853 page 624. You will see there that the connection of the bones is modified, since the maxillary is not fused to the bones of the nose.4

In examining a great number of skeletons of rabbits, ducks, poultry, and pigeons, I have observed several remarkable modifications in the skeletons, but since these are not yet published, they would not be of any use to you.5 The Powter pigeon (inflated gullet or boulans) which undoubtedly descends from Columba Livia, is an interesting case since it has a very enlarged and modified oesophagus.6

In the first chapter of my Origin of species you will find a section about remarkable modifications in pigeons.7

The crested fowls, or, as we call them, polish fowls are an excellent case;8 they reproduce perfectly well; in the past there was only one sex in which the skull was affected; now both sexes are affected. I am enclosing a very well drawn woodcut.9 I have examined a great many skulls. There is an astonishing change of form in the brain itself and in the interior of the skull, besides the change in the external bones.

Footnotes

CD’s original letter has not been found. For a transcription of this letter in French see Correspondence vol.11, p. 313. The extant portion of the letter-text was published in the Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863): 378–9. Quatrefages probably translated this portion for his presentation to the Société d’Anthropologie (see n. 2, below).
The date was given by Quatrefages when he introduced the letter in a discussion at the Société d’Anthropologie on 16 July 1863 (Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863): 378).
See letter from Armand de Quatrefages, [28 March –] 11 April 1863 and nn. 7, 8, and 9. CD thought that niata were a useful example of the environment’s effect on anatomical form; the breed had been selected from cattle imported from Europe (Variation 1: 88–91).
Niata were described in Owen [1853], 2: 3832 (see also Variation 1: 89–91). For Quatrefages’s presentation of photographs of the niata skull at discussions of the Société d’Anthropologie de Paris, see the letter from Armand de Quatrefages, 19 May [1863] and n. 4.
CD published this material in Variation 1: 103–304. Variation was not published until 1868; Quatrefages read this letter of CD’s to the Société d’Anthropologie on 16 July 1863, and a report of William Bernhard Tegetmeier’s presentation of a Polish or crested breed of fowl to the Zoological Society of London (Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863), pp. 378–80; see Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London, 25 November 1856, pp. 366–8). CD may have mentioned this Zoological Society report to Quatrefages in the missing portion of this letter; he cited his reliance on Tegetmeier’s information on poultry in Variation 1: 225 (see nn. 8 and 9, below). Quatrefages briefly mentioned examples of variation in poultry to the Société d’Anthropologie on 7 May and 2 July (see Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863): 273, 350–1).
An engraving and description of the Pouter pigeon is provided in Variation 1: 137–9.
Origin, pp. 20–8.
The Polish or crested breed of fowl and its sub-breeds are described in Variation 1: 227–30.
The enclosure has not been found, but a woodcut of the Polish fowl appears in Variation 1: 229.

Bibliography

Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 26 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Origin: On the origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1859.

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

Summary

The niata is a very good case because the race is well established and must originate in South America. There is a description of the head by [Richard] Owen in the Descriptive catalogue of the osteological collection of the College of Surgeons.

Has observed modifications in the skeletons of rabbits, ducks, poultry, and pigeons. There is an extract about modifications in pigeons in the first chapter of Origin. Encloses a woodcut of crested or polish fowls; there is a change in the brain as well as in the exterior bones.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-4094F
From
Charles Robert Darwin
To
Jean Louis Armand (Armand de Quatrefages) Quatrefages de Bréau
Sent from
unstated
Source of text
Bulletins de la Société d’Anthropologie de Paris 4 (1863): 378–9

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 4094F,” accessed on 13 December 2019, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-4094F.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 11

letter