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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Francisco Javier Muñiz   26 February 1847

Down, Farnborough, Kent,1

February 26, 1847.

DR. F.J.MUNIZ, Buenos Aires.


Your letter of August 30, with the papers which you were so good as to send me, reached me only a short time since, owing to the protracted illness and absence from London of Mr. Morris,2 through whom they were sent. I have lately heard from Mr. Morris that you wish to dispose of your fossil remains on some pecuniary arrangement, which I did not fully understand from your own letter to me. I have given Mr. Morris my opinion on this head, so will not here repeat it; but will only say that I conceive the only feasible plan would be to send your fossils here to some agent to dispose of them.3 No society will purchase anything of the kind without having them inspected, and most societies only receive presents. Your specimen of the Muñi-felis must be a noble one; I suspect it will turn out to be a Machairodus, of which there are some fragments in the British Museum from the Pampas. I will endeavour to get your paper translated and inserted in some scientific periodical.4 Your account of the earthquake in the Pampas has surprised me; I never heard of one in any part further east of the Cordillera than at Cordoba. If you will inform me whether you read English I shall be happy to send you a copy (if you will point out some channel) of my “Geological Observations on South America,” lately published; I do not think it worth sending them without knowing whether you read English, which I fear is not probable. Your pamphlet on the scarlet fever I will present to the Royal College of Surgeons.5 I cannot adequately say how much I admire your continued zeal, situated as you are without means of pursuing your scientific studies and without people to sympathise with you, for the advancement of natural history; I trust that the pleasure of your pursuits affords you some reward for your exertions. Some time since you were so kind as to send me through Mr. E. Lumb6 some most curious, and to me most valuable, information regarding the Niata oxen.7 I should be deeply obliged by any further facts about any of the domestic animals of La Plata; on the origin of any “breed” of poultry, pigs, dogs, cattle, etc. I should be much interested by a brief description of the habits and appearance of the pigs, dogs, etc., which have run wild, and especially on the habits of these wild breeds, when their young are caught and reared. Will a puppy of one of the run-wild dogs, if brought up carefully, be as tame as a common dog? Any information on all such points would be of real service to me; and my address, should you find time to write to me, will always be that at the head of this letter. I most sincerely wish you all success in your admirable labours, and if at any time I can be of any service, I shall be happy to be so; but I am sorry to say I am not connected with any mercantile establishment and cannot recommend agents, etc., etc. With much respect, I beg to remain, Sir, | Your obliged and obedient servant, | CHARLES DARWIN.

P.S.—I omitted to state that Prof. Owen has heard that a collection of bones from Buenos Aires some time since arrived at Paris.8


Though this letter bears the Down address, CD was in Shrewsbury at the time (‘Journal’; Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix I).
Not identified. It is not John Morris, palaeontologist and a fellow of the Geological Society (see letter to Richard Owen [6 March 1847]).
See letters to Richard Owen, 12 February [1847] and [6 March 1847].
Two translations were made of the letter Muñiz published in La Gaceta Mercantil, 9 October 1845. The manuscript versions are in the British Museum (Natural History), but neither appears to have been published.
Edward Lumb, the Buenos Aires merchant CD met during the Beagle voyage. For CD’s correspondence with Lumb, see Correspondence vol. 1.
CD discussed the ‘niata’ (from the Spanish, ñata, flat-nosed) cattle breed and Muñiz’s information in Journal of researches 2d ed., pp. 145–6. See also Origin 6th ed., p. 177, and Variation 1: 89–91. CD presented a skull of this breed from the Beagle collections to the Royal College of Surgeons in January 1840 (abstracts of the minutes of the Museum Committee, Archives, Royal College of Surgeons). It is described in R. Owen 1853, 2: no. 3832.
See letter to Richard Owen, 12 February [1847], in which CD stated that Muñiz was anxious to hear about the arrival of the fossil bones he sent to Paris.


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.

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).

Origin 6th ed.: The origin of species by means of natural selection, or the preservation of favoured races in the struggle for life. 6th edition, with additions and corrections. By Charles Darwin. London: John Murray. 1872.

Owen, Richard. 1853a. Description of some species of the extinct genus Nesodon, with remarks on the primary group (Toxodontia) of hoofed quadrupeds, to which that genus is referable. [Read 13 January 1853.] Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London 143: 291–310.

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


If FJM wishes to sell the fossils he has discovered, CD suggests he appoint some agent to dispose of them.

Is surprised at the account of the earthquake in the pampas.

Offers to send his South America.

Greatly admires FJM’s zeal

and would welcome any information on the domestic animals of La Plata.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Francisco Javier Muñiz
Sent from
Source of text
Nature 99 (1917): 305–6

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1063,” accessed on 13 September 2023,

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