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Darwin Correspondence Project

From S. V. Wood Sr to Charles Lyell   30 September 1873

Brentwood, Essex.

Septr 30. 1873.

My dear Sir Charles

With respect to Leda limatula I send you a proof of p. 114 in which you will see that I do not now regard the shell which I had for some time considered identical with it as the same & that I have reverted to my name of 1840 oblongoides.1

Tritonium carinatum you will find in my synoptical list under the name of Trophon antiquus var. carinatus (the name of Tritonium I have rejected as in this were several others generically distinct (see Note Supplt to Crag Moll p. 19) altho’ it is a shell of the Sutton & Butley Red Crag & also a Bridlington one I am not aware of its occurrence in the Chillesford Beds. it is altogether a Northern form.

With respect to the Scrobicularia Beds I do not exclude them from the Red Crag tho’ I have given a separate column for them (see footnote p. 203) they form the uppermost portion of the Red Crag in actual section & their relation to the Fluvio-marine is fully discussed at pages VIII & IX of the Introduction to my Supplement in the Pall Vol for the year 18712

My son desires me to thank you for the extract from Mr Darwins book & to say that whatever may be the case as to the Ribstone pippin his experiments satisfy him that the general principles enunciated by Mr Darwin in this paragraph are at variance with the true state of the case the rule being that the cultivated apple produces progeny identical with itself the reverse being the exception.3 On the other hand the Oak produces an infinite variety of progeny for altho the acorns of one tree are all alike those of separate Oaks differ greatly   He also bids me mention to you that so far as he can learn from acquaintances who have raised plants from Orange pips the same feeble productive power obtains in their case as in that of the seedling apple

Yours very truly | Searles V. Wood

Sir Chas. Lyell Bart.

P.S. The four shells you mention at p. 168 viz Cardium Groenlandicum Leda limatula (taking this as Leda oblongoides) Tritonium carinatum & Scalaria Groenlandica are all species of the Red Crag of Butley.


Wood’s son, Searles Valentine Wood Jr, had sent Lyell the proof-sheets of the supplement to his father’s work, Crag Mollusca (Wood 1873; see letter from S. V. Wood Jr to Charles Lyell, 19 September 1873 and n. 1). Leda limatula, a fossil mollusc, is now Yoldia limatula; Wood originally identified the species as Nucula oblongoides, now considered a synonym of the still extant Yoldia myalis.
The Crag Mollusca (Wood 1848–61) and its supplements were published by the Palaeontographical Society. The introduction to the first supplement appeared in Wood 1871. The red crag, a shelly sand stained red by iron compounds, is a geological term for the series of marine deposits at the base of the Pleistocene in Suffolk and Essex.
S. V. Wood Jr had asked Lyell’s secretary, Arabella Burton Buckley, to copy passages from Variation for him (see letter from S. V. Wood Jr to Charles Lyell, 27 September 1873). In Variation 1: 350, CD had stated that no-one could raise a tree of the same kind from the seed of the Ribstone Pippin, but that well-marked kinds of apple produced crab-like seedlings that bore a resemblance to their parents. For Wood’s view, see the letter from S. V. Wood Jr to Charles Lyell, 19 September 1873.


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

Wood, Searles Valentine. 1848–61. A monograph of the crag Mollusca, with descriptions of shells from the upper Tertiaries of the British Isles. 2 vols. London: Palaeontographical Society.

Wood, Searles Valentine. 1871. Supplement to the crag Mollusca, Part I (univalves). Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society 25: i–xxxi, 1–98.

Wood, Searles Valentine. 1873. Supplement to the crag Mollusca, Part II (bivalves). Monograph of the Palaeontographical Society 27: 99–231.


Sends proofs of pages on shells with revised species names. Discusses Crag Moll, Sutton and Butley Red Grag, and Scrobicularia beds. Son asks him to thank Lyell for extract from Darwin’s book.

Letter details

Letter no.
Searles Valentine Wood
Charles Lyell, 1st baronet
Sent from
Brentwood, Essex
Source of text
Edinburgh University Library, Centre for Research Collections (Gen.117/6422-3)

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9077F,” accessed on 19 April 2021,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 21