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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Henry Denny   5 February [1844]1

Down Bromley | Kent

Feb 5

Dear Sir

The specimen ticketed on green 153 is from the Condor,2 Chile

Red 395 is from a Hawk, killed at Maldonado on banks of Rio Plata.—3 I believe the Hawk is the Circus megaspilus (v. Zoolog of Beagle’s Voyage. Part Birds).4 But at some time Mr. Waterhouse could probably tell you from the catalogue of the Zoological Soc. what hawk has my number 13965

Red 3⁠⟨⁠35⁠⟩⁠ from Procellaria glacialoides H. Smith. killed in Lat 43° S. coast of Patagonia (v Zoolog. Beagle’s Voyage Birds p. 140)6

Green 561. from Man.7

I send you some rough (which must not be quoted verbatim) notes on subject, which please return sometime. I have specimens in Spirits, of this Louse, which I could sometime get out, if you wished it— Would you be so obliging as sometime to inform me, whether you believe in Mr Martiall’s story, as given in my notes.8

With my best wishes | Believe me | dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin

P.S. Would you be so kind as also to inform me sometime whether the Human Pediculus is the Europæan species 9


The year has been conjectured from the relationship between this letter and the letters to Henry Denny, 20 January [1844] and 3 June [1844] (Correspondence vol. 3).
CD refers to the specimens of lice he had collected while travelling on HMS Beagle. Numbered tags on each specimen corresponded to specimen lists in CD’s notebooks. This list is in Down House Notebooks 63.4 and 63.5 (see R. D. Keynes ed. 2000, pp. 370–415). Specimen 153 is of Ricinus sp. (family Ricinidae) from a condor, collected in Valparaiso in August 1834. For CD’s observations of lice on dying condors, see Barlow ed. 1963, p. 243, and DAR 29.3.
Red 395 (specimen 1395) consists of lice taken from a falcon in Maldonado, Uruguay, in July 1833 (R. D. Keynes ed. 2000, p. 389).
Circus megaspilus is now Circus buffoni, the long-winged harrier (K. G. V. Smith 1987). CD refers to Birds.
CD refers to George Robert Waterhouse. Specimen 1396 is the falcon from which CD took specimen 1395 (see nn. 3 and 4, above).
Procellaria glacialoides is now Fulmarus glacialoides, the southern fulmar (Creuwels et al. 2007, p. 1084). CD refers to Birds.
Specimen green 561 (2561) was lice and fleas collected from the inhabitants of Chiloé Island, Chile, in January 1835 (DAR 31: 315 and R. D. Keynes ed. 2000, p. 410).
CD probably refers to his zoological notebooks from the Beagle voyage, in which he gave more detailed accounts of the collection of his specimens (DAR 30 and 31). In DAR 31: 315 CD reported that the lice from Chiloe were quite different from those found in England, and repeated a story from a Mr Martial that they were different also from those found on the Sandwich Islands.
CD refers to specimen 2561; see n. 7, above. The human Pediculus was probably Pediculus corporis, the body louse. Only two other species of louse are found on humans: Pediculus capitis, the head louse, and Phthirus pubis, the pubic louse. However, these species inhabit different parts of the body, rather than different parts of the world. See Correspondence vol. 13, letter to Henry Denny, 17 January [1865] and n. 5.


Dicussion of some specimens from the Beagle voyage.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Henry Denny
Sent from
Source of text
Jeremy and Helen Evans (private collection)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 734F,” accessed on 30 September 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18 (Supplement)