Fish Part 4 of The zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. By Leonard Jenyns. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin.


The interest that Charles Darwin had in corals, barnacles, earthworms, and orchids is well documented and, indeed, his work led to monographs now essential to the biologists working on these groups.

Not so for fishes: although he was interested in this group, as attested by numerous observations scattered throughout his published work, and his notebooks and correspondence, Darwin never authored any book or paper devoted solely, or even mainly to fishes. Thus, ichthyologists and Darwin scholars interested in Darwin’s treatment of this most speciose group among the vertebrates until now had to contend themselves with Fish, which describes the fishes collected by Darwin during the voyage of the Beagle (1831-1836), but which was edited, rather than authored by Darwin.

The publication of my book on Darwin’s Fishes (Pauly 2004), which assembles and comments on all that Darwin wrote on fish, established that Darwin contributed substantially to ichthyology. If successful, Darwin’s Fishes should heighten interest in Fish, and in the Reverend Leonard Jenyns, its author.

Darwin’s input into Fish was substantial: he sampled all the fish reported upon by Jenyns, who also had access to all of his field notes (notably on live colours and sampling sites). Further, it is Darwin who 'superintended' the publication of Fish, as amply documented in his correspondence. Still it is Jenyns who identified and/or named Darwin’s specimens and we shall briefly meet the man before we discuss his work.

Leonard Jenyns was born in London in 1800, the son of George Leonard Jenyns, vicar of Swaffham Prior, Cambridgeshire. In 1828, he became vicar of Swaffham Bulbeck, also in Cambridgeshire. By the mid 1830s, a substantial publication record had established his reputation as a naturalist, one of two reasons why Darwin invited him, in 1836, to document the collection of fish he had assembled during the voyage of the Beagle. The second reason was friendship: Jenyns’ sister Harriet had married, in 1823, J.S. Henslow, Darwin’s mentor and friend, and this had provided, long before Darwin went on the Beagle, numerous opportunities for Darwin and Jenyns to meet, and to gradually appreciate each other.

However, Darwin’s relationship with Jenyn’s was strained at first, Darwin finding Jenyns 'selfish and illiberal'- apparently because he had refused to exchange some of his specimens with the youthful Darwin, then engrossed in collecting insects. Darwin then competed with Jenyns ('I think I beat Jenyns at Colymbetes' [...] 'I am glad of it if it is merely to spite Mr Jenyns'). Finally, things settled and Darwin could report to his cousin William Darwin Fox: 'I have seen lots of him lately, & the more I see the more I like him.'

In 1849, Jenyns moved to the Isle of Wright, then, shortly thereafter to Swainswick, near Bath, where he founded the Bath Natural History Society. He remained very active, his publications reflecting wide-ranging interests, all much appreciated by Darwin. In 1887, he published an autobiography (reprinted in 1889), and died in 1893.

Returning to Fish, we should note that the first edition was published in four parts, over a period of 27 months, a fact of great importance to taxonomists. The full reference is thus as follows:

Jenyns, L. 1840-42. Part IV Fish In: The Zoology of the Voyage of H.M.S. Beagle, under the Command of Captain Fitzroy, during the years 1832 to 1836. Edited and superintended by Charles Darwin. London: Smith, Elder and Co., (in 4 parts): i-xvi + 1-172 p. Plates 1-29 [p. 1-32: Jan. 1840; p. 33-64: June 1840; p. 65-96: April 1841; p. 97-172: April 1842].

Fish is still in print, in two editions:

(i) In volume six of the 29-volume edition of The Works of Charles Darwin, edited by P.H. Barrett and R.B. Freeman, London: Pickering and Chatto, 253 p., and

(ii) In volume III of The Zoology of the Voyage of the Beagle during the years 1832-1836. Edited by Charles Darwin. Facsimile Reprint, 1980, Wellington, New Zealand, Nova Pacifica Publishing.

Also, Fish is included on Pete Goldie’s ‘Darwin Darwin-ROM (2nd edition; Lightbinders Inc., San Francisco, 1997), based on electronic files I supplied. The version on Darwin Online is a new transcription.

The species listed in Jenyns’ Fish represent the bulk of what I call ‘Darwin’s fishes’, consisting of the species which Darwin collected during the voyage of the Beagle, and which Jenyns described, the species which Darwin wrote about, either in his formal publications, or in his notebooks, letters or marginalia, and all eponymous fish species, i.e., named after Darwin. All of these species are presented, with updated names where necessary, in Darwin’s Fishes.

My online version of Jenyns’ Fish, (available here) provided opportunities for some updating. This was done by linking his species names with the now valid names of these species in FishBase (, and correspondingly for families (note that many of Jenyns’ assignments to families have changed, even when the species names have not). As well, Jenyns’ sometimes obscure citations to the literature are all expanded upon, and where available, linked to sites from which the reference in question can be downloaded.

Finally, I take this opportunity for thanking Ms Sandra Gayosa for creating, in 1994, the file used for my online edition of Fish, Ms Yvette Rizzo for the links to FishBase and Dr. M. L. ‘Deng’ Palomares for expanding and linking the references.

Daniel Pauly

November 2006

Fish Part 4 By L. Jenyns. Text Image PDF F9.4
Original numbers issued:
1. Text Image F8.12
Text Image F8.14
Text Image F8.16
Text Image F8.17


List of the expanded references explicitly or implicitly cited by Jenyns.

Bennett, Edward Turner. 1832. Characters of some new species of fishes, collected by Mr. Cuming. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London (Part 2): 4-5.
Bennett, J.W., 1828. A selection of rare and curious fishes found upon the coast of Ceylon: from drawings made in that island, and coloured from life. Private Printing. London. 30 p.
Bloch, Marcus Eliezer and Joseph Gottlob Schneider. 1801. M. E. Blochii, Systema Ichthyologiae iconibus CX illustratum. Post obitum auctoris opus inchoatum absolvit, correxit, interpolavit Jo. Gottlob Schneider, Saxo. Berolini Sumtibus Austoris Impressum et Bibliopolio Sanderiano Commissum. p. i-lx + 1-584.
[“M.E. Bloch’s System of Ichthyology, illustrated by 110 figures. An unfinished work, completed, corrected and improved after the author’s death by Johann Gottlob Schneider, of Saxony. Printed in Berlin at the author’s expense and bound by the Sander Book Company.”]
Cuvier, Georges. 1815. Observations et recherches critiques sur différents poissons de la Méditerrannée, et à leur occasion sur des poissons d'autres mers, plus ou moins liés avec eux. [Second through fourth parts as "Suite des observations et recherches critiques." Mém. Mus. Natl. Hist. Nat. 226-241, 312-330, 353-363, 451-466].
Cuvier, George. 1818. Sur les diodons, vulgairement orbes-épineux. Mémoires du Muséum d’Histoire Naturelle. 4: 121-138, plates 6-7.
Cuvier, George. 1816 and 1829. Le Règne Animal distribué d'après son organisation pour servir de base à l'histoire naturelle des animaux et d'introduction à l'anatomie comparée. Les reptiles, les poissons, les mollusques et les annélides. Chez D’Eterville et chez Crochard, Libraires, Paris. Vol. 2, xviii + 532 p. [pdf of first (1816) edition].
[“The animal kingdom, arranged in conformity to its organization, to serve as basis for natural history and introduction to comparative anatomy;” 1st ed. 1816, 2nd ed. 1829; English edition: Griffith, Edward and Charles Hamilton Smith. 1834. The class Pisces, with supplementary additions London, G.B. Whittaker. 680 p. Jenyns appears to have used the original French version of the 2nd edition and not its English translation.]
Cuvier, Georges and Achilles Valenciennes. 1828. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome Premier. Livre deuxième. Idée générale de la nature et de l’organisation des poissons. Vol. 1. Levrault, Paris. xvi + 573 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achilles Valenciennes. 1828. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome second. Livre troisième. Des poissons de la famille des Perches ou des Percoïdes. Vol. 2. Levrault, Paris. xxi + 490 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achilles Valenciennes. 1829. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome troisième. Suite du livre troisième. Des poissons de la famille des Perches ou des Percoïdes. Vol. 3. Levrault, Paris. xxviii + 500 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achilles Valenciennes. 1829. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome quatrième. Livre quatrième. Des acanthoptérygiens à joue cuirassée. Levrault, Paris. Vol. 4, xxvi + 518 p.
[“On Acanthopterygians with armoured cheeks;”]
Cuvier, Georges and Achilles Valenciennes. 1830a. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome cinquième. Livre cinquème. Partie I. Des Sparoïdes. Vol. 5. Levrault, Paris. xxviii + 499 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achilles Valenciennes. 1830b. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome sixième. Livre sixième. Partie I. Des Sparoïdes; Partie II. Des Ménides. Vol. 6. Levrault, Paris. xxiv + 559 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achille Valenciennes. 1831. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome septième. Livre septième. Des Squamipennes. Livre huitième. Des poissons à pharyngiens labyrinthiformes. Vol. 7. Levrault, Paris. xxix + 531 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achille Valenciennes. 1832. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome huitième. Livre neuvième. Des Scombéroïdes. Vol. 8. Levrault, Paris. xix + 509 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achille Valenciennes. 1833. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome neuvième. Suite du livre neuvième. Des Scombéroïdes. Vol. 9. Levrault, Paris. xxix
+ 512 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achille Valenciennes. 1835. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome dixième. Suite du livre neuvième. Scombéroïdes. Livre dixième. De la famille des Teuthyes. Livre onzième. De la famille des Taenioïdes. Livre douzième. Des Athérines. Vol. 10. Levrault, Paris. i-xxiv + 1-482 + 2 pp.
Cuvier, Georges and Achille Valenciennes. 1836. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome onzième. Livre treizième. De la famille des Mugiloïdes. Livre quatorzième. De la famille des Gobioïdes. Vol. 11. Levrault, Paris. xx + 506 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achille Valenciennes. 1837. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome douzième. Suite du livre quatorzième. Gobioïdes. Livre quinzième. Acanthoptérygiens à pectorales pédiculées. Vol. 12. Levrault, Paris. xxiv + 507 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achille Valenciennes. 1840a. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome quatorzième. Suite du livre seizième. Labroïdes. Livre dix-septième. Des Malacoptérygiens. Vol. 14. Pitois-Levrault, Paris. xxii + 464 p.
Cuvier, Georges and Achille Valenciennes. 1840b. Histoire naturelle des poissons. Tome quinzième. Suite du livre dix-septième. Siluroïdes. Vol. 15. Pitois, Paris. xxxi + 540
Darwin, Charles. 1839. Journal of researches into the geology and natural history of the various countries visited by H.M.S. Beagle, under the command of Captain FitzRoy,
R.N. from 1832-1836. Henry Colburn. London. 637 p.
[Here is the text Jenyns was referring to: “… One day I was amused by watching the habits of a Diodon, which was caught swimming near the shore. This fish is well known to possess the singular power of distending itself into a nearly spherical form. After having been taken out of water for a short time, and then again immersed in it, a considerable quantity of both water and air was absorbed by the mouth, and perhaps likewise by the branchial apertures.
This process is effected by two methods; the air is swallowed, and is then forced into the cavity of the body, its return being prevented by a muscular contraction which is externally visible; but the water, I observed, entered in a stream through the mouth, which was wide open and motionless: this latter action must, therefore, depend on suction. The skin about the abdomen is much looser than that of the back; hence, during the inflation, the lower surface becomes far more distended than the upper; and the fish, in consequence, floats with its back downwards. Cuvier doubts whether the Diodon, in this position, is able to swim; but not only can it thus move forward in a straight line, but likewise it can turn round to either side. This latter movement is effected solely by the aid of the pectoral fins; the tail being collapsed, and not used. From the body being buoyed up with so much air, the branchial openings were out of the water; but a stream drawn in by the mouth, constantly flowed through them.
The fish, having remained in this distended state for a short time, generally expelled the air and water with considerable force from the branchial apertures and mouth. It could emit, at will, a certain portion of the water; and it appears, therefore, probable, that this fluid is taken in partly for the sake of regulating its specific gravity. This diodon possessed several means of defence. It could give a severe bite, and could eject water from its mouth to some distance, at the same time it made a curious noise by the movement of its jaws. By the inflation of its body, the papillæ, with which the skin is covered, became erect and pointed. But the most curious circumstance was, that it emitted from the skin of its belly, when handled, a most beautiful carmine red and fibrous secretion, which stained ivory and paper in so permanent a manner, that the tint is retained with all its brightness to the present day. I am quite ignorant of the nature and use of this secretion.” (Noted in Bahia, or San Salvador, Brazil, February 20th, 1832)]
Dumon d’Urville, Jules. 1841-1854. Voyage au Pôle Sud et dans l’Océanie, sur les corvettes l’Astrolabe et la Zélée … exécuté par ordre du roi pendant les années 1837, 1838, 1839 et 1840. Atlas Zoologique. 2 Volumes. 42 f. de pl. tout en cartes. Gide, Paris.
Duperrey, Louis Isidore. 1826-1830. Voyage autour du monde, exécuté par ordre du roi, sur la corvette de Sa Majesté, La Coquille, pendant les années 1822, 1823, 1824 et 1825,… publié sous les auspices de son excellence mgr le cte de Chabrol, ministre de la marine et des colonies, par m. L.I. Duperrey … Zoologie. 2 vols. par Lesson et Garnot [et F.-E. Guérin-Méneville]. A. Bertrand, Paris.
Freycinet, Louis Claude Desaulses de. 1826. Voyage autour du monde … exécuté sur les corvettes de Sa Majesté, l’Uranie et la Physicienne, pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820 … publié par M. Louis de Freycinet … Zoologie. Pillet aîné, Paris.
Humboldt, Friedrich Wilhelm Heinrich Alexander von and Achille Valenciennes. 1833. Recherches sur les Poissons fluviatiles de l’Amérique Equinoxiale. p. 145-216, pl. XLV-LII. In: A. von Humboldt and Aimé Bonpland (eds.) Voyage aux régions équinoxiales du Nouveau Continent fait en 1799, 1800, 1801, 1803 et 1804. Vol. 2. Paris. [pdf]
[Jenyns uses for Volume II of Humboldt and Bonpland’s work a title which reads in full “Recueil d’observation de zoologie et d’anatomie comparée, faites dans l’Océan Atlantique, dans l’intérieur de nouveau continent et dans la Mer du Sud pendant les années 1799­1803 , » but which appears to have been used only for the first volume].
Lacepède, Bernard Germain Etienne de. 1798. Histoire Naturelle des Poissons. Vol. 1. Furne et Jouvet, Paris. [pdf].
[After the French Revolution, Lacepède became ‘citoyen La Cépède,’ which was more conducive to keeping one’s head on, and which some taxononomists insist is the way his name should be written, but I could force myself to do it in this book.]
Lay, G. T. and E. T. Bennett. 1839. Fishes. p. 41-75, pls. 15-23. In: The Zoology of Captain Beechey's voyage, compiled from the collections and notes made by Captain Beechey, the officers and naturalist of the expedition, during a voyage to the Pacific and Behring's straits performed in his majesty's ship Blossom, under the command of Captain F.W. Beechey, in the years 1825, 26, 27, and 28. London.
Lesson, René-Primevère. 1830. Poissons. p. 66-238. In: Louis Isidore Dupperrey (ed.) Voyage autour du monde….sur la corvette de sa Majesté La Coquille, pendant les années 1822, 1823, 1824 et 1825….Zoologie. Vol. 2. pt 1; Atlas, pls. 1-38. [pdf].
[Often cited as ‘Lesson & Garnot’, the latter referring to Prosper Garnot, Chief surgeon on ‘La Coquille’].
Lowe, Richard Thomas. 1839. A supplement to a synopsis of the fishes of Madeira. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 7: 76-92.
Orbigny, Alcide de. 1844. Voyage dans l'Amérique méridionale... exécuté pendant les années 1826, 1827, 1828, 1829, 1830, 1831, 1832 et 1833. Tome troisième. 1ère partie, [Planches]. Part 1. Vol. 3. P. Bertrand, Paris and Veuve Levrault, Strasbourg.
[72] f. de pl. : ill. [pdf].
Quoy, Jean René Constant and Joseph Paul Gaimard. 1824-1825. Description des poissons,
p. 192-401. In : Louis Claude Desaulses de Freycinet (ed.) Voyage autour du monde … executé sur les corvettes de Sa Majesté l'Uranie et la Physicienne pendant les années 1817, 1818, 1819 et 1820 …. Chapter IX. Zoologie. Pillet aîné, Paris. [p. 1­328 in 1824; 329-616 in 1825].
Richardson, John. 1836. The Fish. In: Fauna Boreali-Americana; or the zoology of the northern parts of British America: containing descriptions of the objects of natural history collected on the late northern land expeditions, under the command of Sir John Franklin, R.N. Fauna Boreali-Americana i-xv + 1-327
Richardson, John. 1840. Description of a collection of fishes made at Port Arthur in Van Diemen's Land. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. (pt 8): 25-30.
Richardson, John. 1841. On some new or little known fishes from the Australian seas. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London. (pt 9): 21-22.
Rüppel, Wilhelm Peter Eduard Simon 1826-1828. Atlas zu der Reise im nördlichen Afrika. Zoologie: Fische des Rothen Meeres. 4 Volumes. Frankfurt-am-Main. 119 plates, folio.
[“Atlas of the voyage to northern Africa. Zoology: Fishes of the Red Sea”]
Schneider, Joseph Gottlob. 1801. M. E. Blochii, Systema Ichthyologiae iconibus CX illustratum. Post obitum auctoris opus inchoatum absolvit, correxit, interpolavit Jo.
Gottlob Schneider, Saxo. Berolini Sumtibus Austoris Impressum et Bibliopolio Sanderiano Commissum. p. i-lx + 1-584.
[“Marcus Eliezer and M.E. Bloch’s System of Ichthyology, illustrated by 110 figures. An unfinished work, completed, corrected and improved after the author’s death by Johann Gottlob Schneider, of Saxony. Printed in Berlin at the author’s expense and bound by the Sander Book Company.” Usually cited as “Bloch and Schneider”]
Seba, Albertus. 1734-1765. Locupletissimi rerum naturalium thesauri accurata descriptio, et iconibus artificiosissimis expressio, per universam physiees historiam. Opus, cui, in hoc rerum genere, nullum par exstitit. Ex toto terrarum orbe collegit, digessit, descripsit, et de pingendum curavit Albertus Seba. 4 Volumes. Janssonio-Waesbergios. Amsterdam. [4 v. front., 449 pl.].
Shaw, George and F.P. Nodder. 1790-1813. The Naturalist’s Miscellany, or colored figures of natural objects; drawn and described … from nature. 24 Volumes. London.
Sloane, Hans Sir. 1707-1725. A voyage to the islands Madera, Barbados, Nieves, S. Christophers and Jamaica : with the natural history of the herbs and trees, four-footed beasts, fishes, birds, insects, reptiles, &c. of the last of those islands : to which is prefix'd ... an account of the inhabitants, air, waters, diseases, trade, &c. of that place, with some relations concerning the neighbouring continent and islands of America. 2 Volumes. London [printed by B. M. for the author].
Smith, Andrew. 1849. Illustration of the Zoology of South Africa; consisting chiefly of figures and descriptions of the objects of natural history collected during an expedition into the interior of south Africa in 1834-36. 5 Volumes. Vol. iv Pisces, with 31 col. plates. [pdf].
Spix, Johann Baptist von and Louis Agassiz. 1829-1831. Selecta genera et species piscium quos in itinere per Brasiliam annis MDCCCXVII-MDCCCXX jussu et auspiciis Maximiliani Josephi I. Bavariae regis augustissimi peracto collecit et pingendos curavit Dr J. B. de Spix, […], digessit, descripsit et observationibus anatomicis illiustravit Dr. L. Agassiz. Monachii. Part 1: i-xvi + i-ii + 1-82, Pls. 1-48. [pdf].
[“A selection of genera and species of fishes from travels in Brazil in the years 1817-1820, by the order and under the auspices of Maximilian Joseph I, the most august King of Bavaria, which were collected and painted for Dr. J. B. von Spix. […], with an account, descriptions and anatomical illustrations by Dr. L. Agassiz. Munich;”]
Swainson, William. 1838-1839. The natural history of fishes, amphibians & reptiles, or monocardian animals. Vol. II. Lardner's Cabinet Cyclopaedia. Longman, Orme, Brown, Green & Longmans. 2 Volumes. London.
Syme, Patrick. 1821. Werner's Nomenclature of Colours, With Additions, Arranged so as to Render it highly Useful to the Arts and Sciences, particularly Zoology, Botany, Chemistry, Mineralogy, and Morbid Anatomy. Annexed to which are examples selected from well-known objects in the animal, vegetable and mineral kingdoms. William Blackwood, Edinburgh & T. Cadell, London. 47 p. + 13 colour plates.
[This book, the second edition of a work first published in 1814 by a “Flower-Painter” based in Edinburgh, and worked for “the Wernerian and Caledonian Horticultural Societies,” covers 110 named “tints,” and thus expands on the 79 names and descriptions originally published by Abraham Werner (e.g. “Chocolate red, is veinous blood red mixed with a little brownish red”). Moreover, Syme included in his book 110 small (1.2 cm2) color panels, glued onto the appropriate plates (“Whites,” “Greys,” “Blacks,” etc.), along with examples under columns labelled “ANIMAL,” “VEGETABLE,” and MINERAL.”(Most animal example are parts of birds and insect bodies; the only fish example is “Reddish orange,” as occur in “Gold Fish lustre abstracted.” Some colours are not what one would expect, and “Broccoli brown” is not brown, besides having no VEGETABLE example; go figure). This small (23 x 14 x 1 cm) book (which must have been expensive, given its handmade color panels) is easily carried in the field, and hence Charles Darwin’s ability to use it to standardize the colour names he used, most of which Jenyns incorporated in his descriptions of Darwin’s fishes. Darwin’s copy of this book, much used during the voyage of the Beagle, is kept at Down House.]
Valenciennes, Achille. 1847. Catalogue des principales espèces de poissons, rapportées de l'Amérique méridionale. Vol. 5 (pt 2): 1-11. In: Orbigny, Alcide Charles Victor Dessalines d’ (ed.). 1834-1847. Voyage dans l'Amérique méridionale (le Brésil, la République orientale de l’Uruguay, la République Argentine, la Patagonie, la République du Chili, la République de Bolivia, la République du Pérou), executé pendant les années 1826, 1827, … et 1833. 9 Volumes. P. Bertrand, Paris et Veuve Levrault, Strasbourg. [pdf]
[“Voyage to South America (Brazil, Uruguay, …), performed during the years 1826-1833.” Jenyns mention d’Orbigny’s work being “now in course of publication” (Fish, p. x)]



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