Reference numberMS/251/36
TitleLetter from John Shute Duncan, Westfield Lodge, Bath to William Buckland, Christ Church, Oxford
Date9 August 1830
DescriptionDuncan hopes that Buckland will be able to go to London, to see [Georges] Cuvier. He thinks that it would be acceptable to manipulate the [Ashmolean Museum's] Dodo's head, lifting the skin to obtain a view of the supra-orbital cavity. He believes that better drawings should be obtained and illustrates this with two sketched views of the bird's head. Duncan states that the head was treated a year ago by dipping it into turpentine, to destroy the mites on that part. These were probably responsible for destroying most of the skin. He notes that the skin on the head is hairy and speculates on the structure beneath. He discusses the beak and culmen, which resembles the vulture's, but he notes that the lower bill corresponds more closely with other living birds. Duncan thinks that Cuvier should compare the leg of the Ashmolean bird with that in the British Museum. Duncan is happy to leave the matter to Lonsdale, but concedes that it might be better to gain permissions from the authorities of Christ Church or Brasenose. He would like to consult with Cuvier on other matters, including the trachea anatomy of the male bustard. He notes his difficulties in getting specimens and comments upon how much he misses the Radcliffe Library. He notes his immediate travel plans, caused by the painting of his rooms. In a postscript, Duncan writes that he has forgotten to enquire if [William] Kirtland received the cask containing elephant's feet and gives instructions on how they might be preserved.
Physical descriptionOn paper
Access statusOpen
Administrative historyJohn Shute Duncan (1769-1844), museum curator, Keeper of the Ashmolean Museum.
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