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Darwin Correspondence Project

From George Busk   16 March 1871

32 Harley St

March 16 1871

My dear Darwin

As I already have a copy of your Work I shall have no occasion to avail myself of your kind offer to send me a copy of the Reprint, which I am very glad to hear has so soon been demanded.—1

With regard to the inter-condyloid perforation I would remark, although perhaps it may not affect your argument materially, that its presence in Man no more indicates his Simian relations than it does those in which he stands to numerous other animals Such as Canis, Tapir (sometimes) Tragulus, Coypu & I believe most rodents—Hyrax—Orycteropus—Erinaceus, Jerboa Loris—Proteles &c or whilst, though generally present in the Orang & usually but not always in the Gorilla, it is rarely or never exhibited in the Chimpanzee.2

Its greater prevalence, however in several priscan3 populations is a very curious circumstance

Yours very truly | Geo: Busk


The reference is to Descent. See letter to George Busk, 12 March [1871] and n. 8.
Busk refers to the inter-condyloid foramen, the perforation of the humerus above the condyles in the human forearm or similar bone in other mammals (see letter from George Rolleston, 22 February 1871 and n. 3). Canis is the genus of wolves and dogs. Tapirs are members of the genus Tapirus. Tragulus is the genus of mouse-deer. The coypu is a rodent of the genus Myocastor. Hyraxes are small mammals belonging to three genera in the family Procaviidae. Orycteropus is the genus of aardvarks. Erinaceus is the genus of hedgehogs. Jerboas are jumping rodents belonging to several genera in the family Dipodidae. Lorises belong to two genera in the family Lorisidae. Proteles is the genus of the aardwolf, a relative of the hyena. The orang-utan, gorilla, and chimpanzee belong to the family of great apes, Hominidae.
Priscan: ancient, primitive (OED).


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


The presence of the inter-condyloid perforation in man no more indicates his simian relations than it does his relations to numerous other animals.

Letter details

Letter no.
George Busk
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, Harley St, 32
Source of text
DAR 87: 29–30
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7591,” accessed on 29 January 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19