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Darwin Correspondence Project

To Raphael Meldola   28 January [1871]

Down. | Beckenham | Kent. S.E.

Jan 28

Dear Sir

I am much obliged for your kindness in informing me of the hexadactylon case; but so many have been recorded that I do not think, except under very special circumstances, it wd. be worth your while further to investigate it.—1

With my thanks, | Yours faithfully & obliged | Ch. Darwin


Meldola’s letter to CD has not been found, but apparently he had written to CD about a case of polydactylism in a woman at Turnham Green, London. CD discussed polydactyly as a possible instance of reversion to a remote ancestral state in Variation 2: 12–17, but expressed reservations about his argument in Descent 1: 125–6, n. 38. Descent had not yet been published. Meldola published on the case in Land and Water, 11 March 1871, p. 179.


Descent: The descent of man, and selection in relation to sex. By Charles Darwin. 2 vols. London: John Murray. 1871.

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


Thanks RM for information on case of hexadactyly [see RM’s paper, "Hexadactylism", Land and Water, 11 March 1871, p. 179.

Letter details

Letter no.
Charles Robert Darwin
Raphael Meldola
Sent from
JA 29 71
Source of text
Oxford University Museum of Natural History (Hope Entomological Collections 1350: Hope/Westwood Archive, Darwin folder)
Physical description

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 7462,” accessed on 10 July 2020,

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 19