skip to content

Darwin Correspondence Project

From Anton Bachmaier1   4 February 1875

Anthropologische Gesellschaft in München

Geehrter Herr!

Es hat sich bezüglich der in Ihrem Werke—: “das Variiren der Thiere und Pflanzen im Zustande der Domestication, Cap XII Vererbung.” erwähnten Fälle von Reproduction amputirter überzähliger menschlicher Finger- und Zehen-Glieder in der Discussion in unserer Gesellschaft über dieses hochinteressante Thema, das Ergebniss herausgestellt, dass von keinem der lebenden ersten Chirurgen Deutschlands solche Reproductionserscheinungen beobachtet wurden.2

Indem ich diese Thatsache Ihnen hochgeehrter Herr mittheile, bitte ich Sie um gefällige Mittheilung, ob über die erwähnten Fälle noch lebende Zeugen existiren. Die Münchener anthropologische Gesellschaft würde sich eine besondre Ehre daraus machen, die Richtigkeit der in Ihrem Werke citirten Angaben auch in weiteren Kreisen zu vertreten.—

Dagegen wurde von Professor Dr. Rüdinger an einem Salamander die Reproduction des linken Vorderfusses vorgezeigt; soweit sich der reproducirte Vorderarm sammt den Zehen an dem lebenden Thiere beobachten laesst, sind alle einzelnen Abschnitte, wie bei der ersten Entwicklung des Thieres aus dem Ei, vollkommen wiederhergestellt worden.3 Die Muskeln, die Sehnen, die Gelenke scheinen wieder mit grosser Vollendung neu entstanden zu sein, denn die Gebrauchstüchtigkeit der reproducirten Extremität ist eben so gross, als jene der ursprünglich enstandenen, nur ist sie in dem Umfange etwas zurück geblieben.

Sie werden hoch geehrter Herr durch Ihre Erwiederung [ünser] Gesellschaft zu groesstem Danke verpflichten.

Mit ausgezeichneter Hochachtung | Ihr ganz ergebenster Diener A. Bachmaier | Secretair der anthropologischen Gesellschaft.

München, Herrnstrasse 21. | 4. Februar 1875.

CD annotations

3.1 Dagegen … geblieben. 3.8] crossed pencil
Top of letter: ‘Case of Salamander that regenerated its amputated leg—perfectly joints & all— I suppose Amphibian.’ ink del blue crayon and pencil; ‘Address For copy of Var. under domestication’ blue crayon
End of letter: ‘This is the man who wrote to me about amputated fingers’ blue crayon

Footnotes

For a translation of this letter, see Appendix I.
In Variation 2: 14–15, CD described cases of the regrowth of a supernumerary digit in very young children. Bachmaier may refer to either the first or the second German edition of Variation (Carus trans. 1868, Carus trans. 1873).
Nicolaus Rüdinger gave a talk, ‘Wiederersatz verlorener Extremitäten bei niederen Wirbelthieren’ (Regeneration of lost limbs in lower vertebrates), at the January 1875 meeting of the Munich Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory (see Beiträge zur Anthropologie und Urgeschichte 1 (1876): 100). The journal of the society began publication in 1876 and only a brief summary of the proceedings of meetings from its beginning in 1870 up to 1875 were included in the first volume (Beiträge zur Anthropologie und Urgeschichte 1 (1876): 97–101). No printed version of Rüdinger’s talk has been found, but CD was evidently sent one that he later passed on to Lawson Tait (Correspondence vol. 24, letter to Lawson Tait, 28 March 1876).

Bibliography

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

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

Translation

From Anton Bachmaier1   4 February 1875

Anthropologische Gesellschaft in München

Honoured Sir!

Regarding the cases of reproduction of amputated supernumary fingers and toes mentioned in your work “das Variiren der Thiere und Pflanzen im Zustande der Domestication, Chap XII Vererbung.”, a discussion on this fascinating topic in our society has established that none of the German top surgeons alive today have observed such occurrences of reproduction.2

In communicating this to you, most honoured Sir, I am asking you to kindly let me know whether there are any still living witnesses of the cases mentioned. The Anthropological Society of Munich would consider it a particular honour to support the veracity of the statements made in your work, even in wider circles.—

On the other hand, Professor Dr. Rüdinger has shown us the reproduction of a left forefoot on a salamander; in so far as a reproduced foreleg can be observed on a live animal, every single segment has been reproduced completely as in the original development of the animal from the egg.3 The muscles, the tendons, the joints appear to have formed again in great perfection, for the reproduced extremity is just as functional as the original, except that its size does somewhat lag behind.

Our Society will be greatly obliged for your reply, most honoured Sir.

With excellent respects | Your wholly devoted servant A. Bachmaier | Secretary of the anthropologische Gesellschaft.

Munich, Herrnstrasse 21. | 4. February 1875.

Footnotes

For a transcription of this letter in its original German, see pp. 49–50
In Variation 2: 14–15, CD described cases of the regrowth of a supernumerary digit in very young children. Bachmaier may refer to either the first or the second German edition of Variation (Carus trans. 1868, Carus trans. 1873).
Nicolaus Rüdinger gave a talk, ‘Wiederersatz verlorener Extremitäten bei niederen Wirbelthieren’ (Regeneration of lost limbs in lower vertebrates), at the January 1875 meeting of the Munich Society for Anthropology, Ethnology and Prehistory (see Beiträge zur Anthropologie und Urgeschichte 1 (1876): 100). The journal of the society began publication in 1876 and only a brief summary of the proceedings of meetings from its beginning in 1870 up to 1875 were included in the first volume (Beiträge zur Anthropologie und Urgeschichte 1 (1876): 97–101). No printed version of Rüdinger’s talk has been found, but CD was evidently sent one that he later passed on to Lawson Tait (Correspondence vol. 24, letter to Lawson Tait, 28 March 1876).

Bibliography

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

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

Summary

Asks for information about alleged regeneration of amputated human fingers and toes. Mentions observations on regeneration of salamander extremities.

Letter details

Letter no.
DCP-LETT-9840
From
Anton Bachmaier
To
Charles Robert Darwin
Sent from
Anthropologische Gesellschaft in München
Source of text
DAR 160: 10
Physical description
3pp (German) †

Please cite as

Darwin Correspondence Project, “Letter no. 9840,” accessed on 7 April 2020, https://www.darwinproject.ac.uk/letter/DCP-LETT-9840.xml

Also published in The Correspondence of Charles Darwin, vol. 23

letter