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Darwin Correspondence Project

From St G. J. Mivart   22 April 1870

7 North Bank | N.W.

April 22d— 1870.

My dear Sir,

I have really expressed no opinion as to Man’s origin nor am I prepared to do so at this moment. The diagram in the Pro. Z. Soc. expresses what I believe to be the degree of resemblance as regards the spinal column only. The diagram in the Phil. Trans. expresses what I believe to be the degree of resemblance as regards the appendicular skeleton only.1

As regards the skull the divergence would be greater than that of the appendicular skeleton in some respects—less in others & not having gone into the question thoroughly I am not able to sketch a diagram on that basis. But if I combined all these we should still have only considered the skeleton & were I to follow this up by a careful comparison of all the organs in all forms we should still only have considered the dead body.

Now I believe fully that this alone being taken into account—& assuming that zoological classification should be Anatomical—Man forms only a family of the higher division of the Primates. But if we introduce into the consideration his intellectual, moral & religious nature I am convinced he differs more from an Anthropoid Ape than such an Ape differs from a lump of granite.

As to the nostrils of the Lemuroidea I do not recollect noticing any exceptional form but it was not a point we went into.2

Buchner’s undifferentiated Ape is unknown to me but I have been months absent & since my return have not looked up any matters connected with Primates other than human.3

Surely such a beast will be found someday—if he has not been found already.

Regretting much that I cannot reply more satisfactorily to your questions & trusting that a visit from you is a pleasure postponed only for a little, I remain, with best regards & wishes | Your’s very sincerely | St Geo. Mivart.


Mivart refers to his paper on the axial skeleton of primates in the Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (Mivart 1865) and to his paper ‘On the appendicular skeleton of the primates’ in the Philosophical Transactions of the Royal Society of London (Mivart 1867). There are tree diagrams in Mivart 1865, p. 592, and Mivart 1867a, p. 425, showing the affinities between the axial and appendicular skeletons of the various groups. The axial skeleton is the spinal column; the appendicular skeleton is the skeleton of the limbs, not including the spinal column.


Is not prepared to express an opinion on man’s origin. On pure anatomical grounds he would form a family of the higher division of the primates, but if man’s intellectual, moral, and religious nature is considered, then "he differs more from an Anthropoid Ape than such an Ape differs from a lump of granite".

Letter details

Letter no.
St George Jackson Mivart
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
London, North Bank, 7
Source of text
DAR 171: 186
Physical description
ALS 4pp

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7170,” accessed on 26 September 2022,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 18