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Darwin Correspondence Project

To G. B. Sowerby   [May 1845]1

Down Bromley | Kent


My dear Sir

I had intended calling on you the last time that I was in London, (but was prevented) to ask you for the list of the Bahia Blanca fossil shells, which I daresay you have gone through by this time & which I am anxious to refer to.—2 Would you be so good as to send it me as soon as you conveniently can by Post.—3

I am preparing a 2d Edit of my Journal & therefore am compelled to put off going through the fossil shells for another month or six weeks.4

Believe me | dear Sir | Yours very faithfully | C. Darwin


Date based on the period when CD worked on the first number of Journal of researches 2d ed. (see n. 2, below).
CD wanted an exact count of the recent and extinct species of shells found at Bahia Blanca in order to date the Toxodon and other large fossils found in the same formation. He had earlier claimed that the shells were mostly of existing species (Journal of researches, p. 97), but now he wanted a precise enumeration for the second edition (p. 83). The Bahia Blanca shells were discussed in the first number of the second edition, which CD worked on from 25 April until approximately 31 May. Revisions to the entire volume took him until 25 August (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 3, Appendix II, and letter to John Murray, [31 May 1845]).
Sowerby’s identifications of CD’s South American shells are in DAR 43.1: 6–45, but there is no list for Bahia Blanca.
The fossil shells CD refers to are presumably those to be described in South America. An appendix to that volume is devoted to Sowerby’s description of sixty species of Tertiary fossil shells.


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 29 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Journal of researches 2d ed.: Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle round the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. 2d edition, corrected, with additions. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1845.

Journal of researches: Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by HMS Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy, RN, from 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Henry Colburn. 1839.

South America: Geological observations on South America. Being the third part of the geology of the voyage of the Beagle, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN, during the years 1832 to 1836. By Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder & Co. 1846.


Asks for list of the Bahia Blanca fossil shells.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
George Brettingham Sowerby
Sent from
Source of text
Archives of the New York Botanical Garden (Charles Finney Cox Collection)
Physical description
ALS 2pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 860,” accessed on 7 June 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 3