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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Albert Günther   13 May [1872]1

Down, | Beckenham, Kent.

May 13

My dear Dr. Günther

Will you have the kindness to answer me a simple question. Is the Horned Toad, of Oregon, the Tapaya Douglassii, a Batrachian or Lizard? I ask because I believe that the the Horned Frog of California, the Phrynosoma Cornuta is a Lizard.— If the names are synonyms, which is right; & have I spelled them rightly?2

I shall be anxious to hear, as I sincerely hope may be the case, that you are successful about promotion in B. Museum. I do not know whether I judged wisely but I thought my form of Testimonial would be the best for the Trustees, as many of them know nothing of science, but wd. regard a European reputation.3

Yours very sincerely | C. Darwin


The year is established by the relationship between this letter and the letter from Albert Günther, 10 May 1872.
CD discussed Tapaya douglasii (now Phrynosoma douglasii, the pygmy short-horned lizard) in Expression, p. 105. Phyrnosoma cornutum is the Texas horned lizard. Batrachia is a former order that included frogs, toads, and salamanders. The term batrachian is still used in an informal sense to refer to these amphibians. In modern taxonomy, frogs and toads are in the order Anura, and salamanders in the order Caudata, of the class Amphibia; lizards are in the order Squamata of the class Reptilia.


Expression: The expression of the emotions in man and animals. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.


Is the horned toad of Oregon a batrachian or a lizard?

Hopes AG will be promoted in the British Museum.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Albrecht Carl Ludwig Gotthilf (Albert) Günther
Sent from
Source of text
Shrewsbury School, Taylor Library
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 8324,” accessed on 2 December 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 20