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A Report by Andrew Collins
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Descent of Man [ 1871]

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Author Topic: Descent of Man [ 1871]  (Read 3922 times)
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« Reply #75 on: February 09, 2009, 01:31:34 pm »

* On the Gorilla, Savage and Wyman, Boston Journal of Natural
History, vol. v., 1845-47, p. 423. On Cynocephalus, Brehm,
Illustriertes Thierleben, B. i., 1864, s. 77. On Mycetes, Rengger,
Naturgeschichte der Saugethiere von Paraguay, 1830, ss. 14, 20. On
Cebus, Brehm, ibid., s. 108.
  *(2) Pallas, Spicilegia Zoolog., fasc. xii., 1777, p. 29. Sir Andrew
Smith, Illustrations of the Zoology of S. Africa, 1849, pl. 29, on the
Kobus. Owen, in his Anatomy of Vertebrates (vol. iii., 1868, p. 633)
gives a table shewing incidentally which species of antelopes are
  *(3) Dr. Campbell, in Proc., Zoolog. Soc., 1869, p. 138. See also an
interesting paper by Lieut. Johnstone, in Proceedings, Asiatic Society
of Bengal, May, 1868.
  *(4) Dr. Gray, in Annals and Magazine of Natural History, 1871, p.
  *(5) See Dr. Dobson's excellent paper in Proceedings of the
Zoological Society, 1873, p. 241.

  As I hear from Sir Andrew Smith, the lion in South Africa
sometimes lives with a single female, but generally with more, and, in
one case, was found with as many as five females; so that he is
polygamous. As far as I can discover, he is the only polygamist
amongst all the terrestrial Carnivora, and he alone presents
well-marked sexual characters. If, however, we turn to the marine
Carnivora, as we shall hereafter see, the case is widely different;
for many species of seals offer extraordinary sexual differences,
and they are eminently polygamous. Thus, according to Peron, the
male sea-elephant of the southern ocean always possesses several
females, and the sea-lion of Forster is said to be surrounded by
from twenty to thirty females. In the North, the male sea-bear of
Steller is accompanied by even a greater number of females. It is an
interesting fact, as Dr. Gill remarks,* that in the monogamous
species, "or those living in small communities, there is little
difference in size between the males and females; in the social
species, or rather those of which the males have harems, the males are
vastly larger than the females."

  * "The Eared Seals," American Naturalist, vol. iv., Jan. 1871.

  Amongst birds, many species, the sexes of which differ greatly
from each other, are certainly monogamous. In Great Britain we see
well-marked sexual differences, for instance, in the wild-duck which
pairs with a single female, the common blackbird, and the bullfinch
which is said to pair for life. I am informed by Mr. Wallace that
the like is true of chatterers or Cotingidae of South America, and
of many other birds. In several groups I have not been able to
discover whether the species are polygamous or monogamous. Lesson says
that birds of paradise, so remarkable for their sexual differences,
are polygamous, but Mr. Wallace doubts whether he had sufficient
evidence. Mr. Salvin tells me he has been led to believe that
humming-birds are polygamous. The male widow-bird, remarkable for
his caudal plumes, certainly seems to be a polygamist.* I have been
assured by Mr. Jenner Weir and by others, that it is somewhat common
for three starlings to frequent the same nest; but whether this is a
case of polygamy or polyandry has not been ascertained.

  * The Ibis, vol. iii., 1861, p. 133, on the Progne widow-bird. See
also on the Vidua axillaris, ibid., vol. ii., 1860, p. 211. On the
polygamy of the capercailzie and great bustard, see L. Lloyd, Game
Birds of Sweden, 1867, pp. 19, and 182. Montagu and Selby speak of the
black grouse as polygamous and of the red grouse as monogamous.

  The Gallinaceae exhibit almost as strongly marked sexual differences
as birds of paradise or humming-birds, and many of the species are, as
is well know, polygamous; others being strictly monogamous. What a
contrast is presented between the sexes of the polygamous peacock or
pheasant, and the monogamous guinea-fowl or partridge! Many similar
cases could be given, as in the grouse tribe, in which the males of
the polygamous capercailzie and black-**** differ greatly from the
females; whilst the sexes of the monogamous red grouse and ptarmigan
differ very little. In the Cursores, except amongst the bustards,
few species offer strongly-marked sexual differences, and the great
bustard (Otis tarda) is said to be polygamous. With the Grallatores,
extremely few species differ sexually, but the ruff (Machetes
pugnax) affords a marked exception, and this species is believed by
Montagu to be a polygamist. Hence it appears that amongst birds
there often exists a close relation between polygamy and the
development of strongly-marked sexual differences. I asked Mr.
Bartlett, of the Zoological Gardens, who has had very large experience
with birds, whether the male tragopan (one of the Gallinaceae) was
polygamous, and I was struck by his answering, "I do not know, but
should think so from his splendid colours."
  It deserves notice that the instinct of pairing with a single female
is easily lost under domestication. The wild-duck is strictly
monogamous, the domestic-duck highly polygamous. The Rev. W. D. Fox
informs me that out of some half-tamed wild-ducks, on a large pond
in his neighborhood, so many mallards were shot by the game-keeper
that only one was left for every seven or eight females; yet unusually
large broods were reared. The guinea-fowl is strictly monogamous;
but Mr. Fox finds that his birds succeed best when he keeps one ****
to two or three hens. Canary-birds pair in a state of nature, but
the breeders in England successfully put one male to four or five
females. I have noticed these cases, as rendering it probable that
wild monogamous species might readily become either temporarily or
permanently polygamous.
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