skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From P. L. Sclater   11 February 1860

Zoological Society of London, | 11, Hanover Square, | London, W.

Feb. 11th. 18 60

My dear Sir,

I send you an extract from the minutes of one of our scientific meetings relating to the subject I was speaking of today—1 I find nothing was said about it in the printed volume of Proceedings—

I find I never answered your letter of the 4th. and now have only to say that Sylvicola aureola may be a distinct species, but it is a close ally of S. æstiva of N . and S. America and perhaps only a “climatic variety” or as the Germans say “climatische Abart”—2

The next time I go to the B.M. I will examine Otus galapagoensis Zenaida galapagoensis and S. aureola.3

Very faithfully Your’s | P.L Sclater


Zool. Soc. May 11, 1858.

(Extract from minutes)

Mr. Gould made some observations on the Indian Phasianidæ imported last year and now laying in the Gardens of the Society.4 Drawings of the Eggs of the Impeyan Pheasant the Cheer, the Purple Pheasant and two species of Kaleege were exhibited to the meeting.

With reference to the eggs of the Indian Phasianidæ Mr. Sclater remarked that though the Egg of Gallophasis albo-cristata and G. melanota were easily recognizable as of distinct species—as indeed were the birds themselves—yet it was well known in India that in the region where these two species inosculate, a transitional variety is found passing from one to the other. This was not so surprizing in a gallinaceous bird, but the same thing occurred in two instances in birds of the Passerine order and was very remarkable. No one would deny the specific distinctness of Coracias bengalensis of the Indian Peninsula from C. affinis of Assam, or of Colaptes auratus of the Eastern United States of America from Colaptes mexicanus of California and Mexico yet in the country where these species respectively inosculate intermediate varieties are found.5

CD annotations

Top of first page: ‘19’6 brown crayon, circled brown crayon


See the enclosure. Sclater was secretary of the Zoological Society of London, and he frequently contributed notices and reports at the society’s meetings.
See letter to P. L. Sclater, 4 February [1860]. In the postscript to the preface of the new issue of Journal of researches (1860), p. vii, CD stated: ‘Mr. Sclater thinks that one or two of these endemic [Galápagos] forms should be ranked rather as varieties than species, which always seemed to me probable.’
See letter from P. L. Sclater, [3? February 1860], and letter to P. L. Sclater, 4 February [1860].
The reference is to the ornithologist John Gould.
Inosculate: ‘To pass into; … to blend.’ (OED).
The number of CD’s portfolio of notes on the geographical distribution of animals.


Journal of researches (1860): Journal of researches into the natural history and geology of the countries visited during the voyage of HMS Beagle around the world, under the command of Capt. FitzRoy RN. By Charles Darwin. Reprint edition. London: John Murray. 1860.

OED: The Oxford English dictionary. Being a corrected re-issue with an introduction, supplement and bibliography of a new English dictionary. Edited by James A. H. Murray, et al. 12 vols. and supplement. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1970. A supplement to the Oxford English dictionary. 4 vols. Edited by R. W. Burchfield. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1972–86. The Oxford English dictionary. 2d edition. 20 vols. Prepared by J. A. Simpson and E. S. C. Weiner. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1989. Oxford English dictionary additional series. 3 vols. Edited by John Simpson et al. Oxford: Clarendon Press. 1993–7.


Informs CD that Sylvicola aureola may be a distinct species but is a close ally of S. aestiva of N. and S. America and perhaps only a "climatic variety".

Letter details

Letter no.
Philip Lutley Sclater
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Zoological Society
Source of text
DAR 205.3: 290, DAR 205.7: 143
Physical description
3pp †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 2692,” accessed on 4 December 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 8