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Descent of Man [ 1871]

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Author Topic: Descent of Man [ 1871]  (Read 3094 times)
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« Reply #135 on: February 09, 2009, 03:12:12 pm »

 * The Sportsman and Naturalist in Canada, by Major W. Ross King,
1866, pp. 144-146. Mr. T. W. Wood gives in the Student (April, 1870,
p. 116) an excellent account of the attitude and habits of this bird
during its courtship. He states that the ear-tufts or neck-plumes
are erected, so that they meet over the crown of the head. See his
drawing, fig. 39.
  *(2) Richardson, Fauna Bor. Americana: Birds, 1831, p. 359. Audubon,
ibid., vol. iv., p. 507.

  It seems now well made out that the great throat pouch of the
European male bustard (Otis tarda), and of at least four other
species, does not, as was formerly supposed, serve to hold water,
but is connected with the utterance during the breeding-season of a
peculiar sound resembling "oak."* A crow-like bird inhabiting South
America (see Cephalopterus ornatus, fig. 40) is called the
umbrella-bird, from its immense top knot, formed of bare white
quills surmounted by dark-blue plumes, which it can elevate into a
great dome no less than five inches in diameter, covering the whole
head. This bird has on its neck a long, thin, cylindrical fleshy
appendage, which is thickly clothed with scale-like blue feathers.
It probably serves in part as an ornament, but likewise as a
resounding apparatus; for Mr. Bates found that it is connected "with
an unusual development of the trachea and vocal organs." It is dilated
when the bird utters its singularly deep, loud and long sustained
fluty note. The head-crest and neck-appendage are rudimentary in the

  * The following papers have been lately written on this subject:
Prof. A. Newton, in the Ibis, 1862, p. 107; Dr. Cullen, ibid., 1865,
p. 145; Mr. Flower, in Proc. Zool. Soc., 1865, p. 747; and Dr.
Murie, in Proc. Zool. Soc., 1868, p. 471. In this latter paper an
excellent figure is given of the male Australian bustard in full
display with the sack distended. It is a singular fact that the sack
is not developed in all the males of the same species.
  *(2) Bates, The Naturalist on the Amazons, 1863, vol. ii., p. 284;
Wallace, in Proceedings, Zoological Society, 1850, p. 206. A new
species, with a still larger neck-appendage (C. penduliger), has
lately been discovered, see Ibis, vol. i., p. 457.

  The vocal organs of various web-footed and wading birds are
extraordinarily complex, and differ to a certain extent in the two
sexes. In some cases the trachea is convoluted, like a French horn,
and is deeply embedded in the sternum. In the wild swan (Cygnus ferus)
it is more deeply embedded in the adult male than in the adult
female or young male. In the male Merganser the enlarged portion of
the trachea is furnished with an additional pair of muscles.* In one
of the ducks, however, namely Anas punctata, the bony enlargement is
only a little more developed in the male than in the female.*(2) But
the meaning of these differences in the trachea of the two sexes of
the Anatidae is not understood; for the male is not always the more
vociferous; thus with the common duck, the male hisses, whilst the
female utters a loud quack.*(3) In both sexes of one of the cranes
(Grus virgo) the trachea penetrates the sternum, but presents "certain
sexual modifications." In the male of the black stork there is also
a well-marked sexual difference in the length and curvature of the
bronchi.*(4) Highly important structures have, therefore, in these
cases been modified according to sex.

  * Bishop, in Todd's Cyclopaedia of Anatomy and Physiology, vol. iv.,
p. 1499.
  *(2) Prof. Newton, Proc. Zoolog. Soc., 1871, p. 651.
  *(3) The spoonbill (Platalea) has its trachea convoluted into a
figure of eight, and yet this bird (Jerdon, Birds of India, vol. iii.,
p. 763) is mute but Mr. Blyth informs me that the convolutions are not
constantly present, so that perhaps they are now tending towards
  *(4) Elements of Comparative Anatomy, by R. Wagner, Eng.
translat., 1845, p. 111. With respect to the swan as given above,
Yarrell's History of British Birds, 2nd edition, 1845, vol. iii., p.

  It is often difficult to conjecture whether the many strange cries
and notes uttered by male birds during the breeding-season serve as
a charm or merely as a call to the female. The soft cooing of the
turtle-dove and of many pigeons, it may be presumed, pleases the
female. When the female of the wild turkey utters her call in the
morning, the male answers by a note which differs from the gobling
noise made, when with erected feathers, rustling wings and distended
wattles, he puffs and struts before her.* The spel of the black-****
certainly serves as a call to the female, for it has been known to
bring four or five females from a distance to a male under
confinement; but as the black-**** continues his spel for hours during
successive days, and in the case of the capercailzie "with an agony of
passion," we are led to suppose that the females which are present are
thus charmed.*(2) The voice of the common rook is known to alter
during the breeding-season, and is therefore in some way sexual.*(3)
But what shall we say about the harsh screams of, for instance, some
kinds of macaws; have these birds as bad taste for musical sounds as
they apparently have for colour, judging by the inharmonious
contrast of their bright yellow and blue plumage? It is indeed
possible that without any advantage being thus gained, the loud voices
of many male birds may be the result of the inherited effects of the
continued use of their vocal organs when excited by the strong
passions of love, jealousy and rage; but to this point we shall
recur when we treat of quadrupeds.

  * C. L. Bonaparte, quoted in the Naturalist Library: Birds, vol.
xiv., p. 126.
  *(2) L. Lloyd, The Game Birds of Sweden, &c., 1867, pp. 22, 81.
  *(3) Jenner, Philosophical Transactions, 1824, p. 20.

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