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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Richard Owen   [6 March 1847]1

Down Farnborough Kent

Saturday Evening

My dear Owen

Our last letters crossed on the road, & I deferred writing again to say how vexed I was to have caused you so much trouble in vain (though innocently, for it was not possible to suppose from Munizs letter to me, that he wished to sell his specimens) until I could send you a translation, (made by a Mr J. Morris) of the paper on the Machairodus(?).2 If you can spare time, I hope you will look it through, for two reasons: first it will, especially the table of measurements, give you some idea how perfect the skeleton is (I see he has a young head as well as the old one) & you might, perhaps, feel warranted in saying that the College would give some sum for it; I should think, there would be a far better chance of the specimen being sent to this country if some sum, though not a very large one, was offered certainly for it.3 I wd. if you chose communicate, through Mr. Morris with him— It would be easy to contract that the skeleton sent, shd. contain at least all the bones enumerated in the Paper. I have, however, no doubt from all that I have heard, that Muniz is a honest, & zealous man.—

My second object in wishing you to read it, is to have your opinion, whether any portion could appear in the Geolog. Journal, as a Translation, or in Taylor’s Journal;4 I am very doubtful about it, from the loose manner in which it appears to me drawn up, & from the Translator not being an anatomist. Would the table of measurements do to publish? If so, would you mark any portions, & add any note saying whether it is the Machairodus & how far the remains are more perfect than any hitherto found.— My sole reason for wishing this, is that I think it would greatly encourage Muniz in his search; & a S. American osteologist is a prodigy in nature.

I fear you will have some little difficulty in making out the paper: I send the original Spanish, which please not to throw away.—

I trust to your interest in the subject, for forgiveness for all this trouble.— What a grand object a mounted Machairodus would be by the side of a Tiger’s skeleton!

Believe me | Most sincerely yours | C. Darwin

P.S. | The pamplet on Scarlatina5 I send to your Library; it may perhaps be worth depositing; some one working on fevers might someday be glad to see an account of the ravages of the Scarlet Fever in the Pampas.—


Dated on the basis of the letter to F. J. Muñiz, 26 February 1847. CD did not return from Shrewsbury until Friday, 5 March, so 6 March is the earliest possible date for this letter.
A note, possibly by Charles Davis Sherborn, Owen’s executor, on a typewritten copy of this letter in DAR 147 states: |cil2cir1| Muniz’s original letter is not in my collection but a later one is, from which I gather that 100 was offered, but Muniz wanted more, and asked for another offer. This second letter is dated 2 June 1853 & is written to Dr J W Mackenna | (Francis Xavier Muniz.)
Richard Taylor’s Annals and Magazine of Natural History. No translation of Muñiz’s letter was published (see letter to F. J. Muñiz, 26 February 1847, n. 4).


Muñiz, Francisco Javier. 1844. Descripcion y curacion de la fiebre escarlatina que reinó epidemicamente en las provincias argentinas confederadas, y en Buenos Ayres su capital, en los años 1836 y 1837. La Gaceta mercantil (Buenos Ayres).


A specimen of Machairodus offered for sale by F. J. Muñiz.

Discusses possible publication in England of paper by Muñiz describing the skeleton.

Sends pamphlet on scarlatina in the Pampas.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Richard Owen
Sent from
Source of text
Natural History Museum, Library and Archives (General Special Collections Owen correspondence 9/192)
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 938,” accessed on 12 September 2023,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 4