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Darwin Correspondence Project

To T. C. Eyton   9 December [1855]

Down Bromley Kent

Dec 9th

Dear Eyton

I have been looking everywhere for the Dog’s Head.1 As a few years ago I made a clearance of specimens, which I sent to the British Museum, I fear the head must have gone. But I cannot remember having sent it, so it may sometime turn up.— I am vexed at this. I know when I got it some 12 years ago, I meant it for you,2 but if I sent it off I must have forgotten your pursuit. Indeed till I had the great satisfaction of meeting you at Glasgow I thought you had given up skeletonising.3 I took to the nice work, first owing to my wish to see how much the young of Pigeons & Poultry differed from the old, & I have a collection in Brine of nestling Pigeons & chickens.—

I feel that I am rather poaching on your manor; & I do not suppose I shall go further than just ascertaining & giving very briefly what differences I can see in the skeletons of Pigeons, Poultry, Covey Birds & rabbits. Your very kind offer of lending me skeletons of other species of pigeons (& that of the splendid Almond Tumbler) may be of the greatest possible use to me, but I have not gone far enough yet to profit by them,4 & you very likely may publish on the subject before I do,5 for I am a very slow worker & certainly shall not publish for some years.—

I see Yarrell has done a good deal in the bone line in British Birds;6 he showed me a lot of breast-bones the other day.— The plan I am following for birds, I shd. think would be worth your adoption in regard to Dogs, &c viz to offer some sum sufficient to make it worth while to a Dealer to send you any curious Dogs which might die; for I suppose there are dealers in Dogs in London.—

A Mr Tegetmeier is going to publish a paper on the skulls of Fowls7 & he showed me a collection the other day, & gave me a small series.—

Your’s most truly | C. Darwin


The Chinese dog’s head referred to in letter to T. C. Eyton, 3 December [1855].
CD continued to study variations in pigeons and fowls up to the preparation of the manuscript of Variation in 1867. The work was published in January 1868.
Eyton published the first volume of his Osteologia Avium in 1858 and the second in 1867. CD’s copy is in the Darwin Library–Down.
William Yarrell had published A history of British birds in 1839 (2d ed. 1845). CD had earlier read the first volume of the second edition (Correspondence vol. 4, Appendix IV, *119: 13v.).


Correspondence: The correspondence of Charles Darwin. Edited by Frederick Burkhardt et al. 27 vols to date. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press. 1985–.

Tegetmeier, William Bernhard. 1856. On the remarkable peculiarities existing in the skulls of the feather-crested variety of the domestic fowl, now known as the Polish. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 24: 366–8.

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


Vexed he cannot find head of [Chinese] dog.

First took up skeletonising to see how much young pigeons and poultry differed from the old.

Wishes to ascertain differences in skeletons of pigeons, poultry, covey birds, and rabbits. William Yarrell has shown CD breastbones. W. B. Tegetmeier has shown him skulls of fowls.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Thomas Campbell Eyton
Sent from
Source of text
American Philosophical Society (Mss.B.D25.117)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 1793,” accessed on 30 September 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 5