TO W. TURNER.
(407/1. Sir William Turner is frequently referred to in the "Descent of Man" as having supplied Mr. Darwin with information.)
Down, December 14th .
Your kindness when I met you at the Royal Society makes me think that you would grant me the favour of a little information, if in your power. I am preparing a book on Domestic Animals, and as there has been so much discussion on the bearing of such views as I hold on Man, I have some thoughts of adding a chapter on this subject. The point on which I want information is in regard to any part which may be fairly called rudimentary in comparison with the same part in the Quadrumana or any other mammal. Now the os coccyx is rudimentary as a tail, and I am anxious to hear about its muscles. Mr. Flower found for me in some work that its one muscle (with striae) was supposed only to bring this bone back to its proper position after parturition. This seems to me hardly credible. He said he had never particularly examined this part, and when I mentioned your name, he said you were the most likely man to give me information.
Are there any traces of other muscles? It seems strange if there are none. Do you know how the muscles are in this part in the anthropoid apes? The muscles of the ear in man may, I suppose, in most cases be considered as rudimentary; and so they seem to be in the anthropoids; at least, I am assured in the Zoological Gardens they do not erect their ears. I gather there are a good many muscles in various parts of the body which are in this same state: could you specify any of the best cases? The mammae in man are rudimentary. Are there any other glands or other organs which you can think of? I know I have no right whatever to ask all these questions, and can only say that I should be grateful for any information. If you tell me anything about the os coccyx or other structures, I hope that you will permit me to quote the statement on your authority, as that would add so greatly to its value.
Pray excuse me for troubling you, and do not hurry yourself in the least in answering me.
I do not know whether you would care to possess a copy, but I told my publisher to send you a copy of the new edition of the "Origin" last month.
LETTER 408. TO W. TURNER. Down, February 1st .
I thank you cordially for all your full information, and I regret much that I have given you such great trouble at a period when your time is so much occupied. But the facts were so valuable to me that I cannot pretend that I am sorry that I did trouble you; and I am the less so, as from what you say I hope you may be induced some time to write a full account of all rudimentary structures in Man: it would be a very curious and interesting memoir. I shall at present give only a brief abstract of the chief facts which you have so very kindly communicated to me, and will not touch on some of the doubtful points. I have received far more information than I ventured to anticipate. There is one point which has occurred to me, but I suspect there is nothing in it. If, however, there should be, perhaps you will let me have a brief note from you, and if I do not hear I will understand there is nothing in the notion. I have included the down on the human body and the lanugo on the foetus as a rudimentary representation of a hairy coat. (408/1. "Descent of Man" I., page 25; II., page 375.) I do not know whether there is any direct functional connection between the presence of hair and the panniculus carnosus (408/2. Professor Macalister draws our attention to the fact that Mr. Darwin uses the term panniculus in the generalised sense of any sheet of muscle acting on the skin.) (to put the question under another point of view, is it the primary or aboriginal function of the panniculus to move the dermal appendages or the skin itself?); but both are superficial, and would perhaps together become rudimentary. I was led to think of this by the places (as far as my ignorance of anatomy has allowed me to judge) of the rudimentary muscular fasciculi which you specify.