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Descent of Man [ 1871]

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Author Topic: Descent of Man [ 1871]  (Read 6391 times)
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« Reply #180 on: February 10, 2009, 01:22:32 pm »

* See the very interesting paper by Mr. J. A. Allen in Bull. Mus.
Comp. Zoology of Cambridge, United States, vol. ii., No. 1, p. 82. The
weights were ascertained by a careful observer, Capt. Bryant. Dr. Gill
in The American Naturalist, January, 1871, Prof. Shaler on the
relative size of the sexes of whales, American Naturalist, January,
  *(2) Animal Economy, p. 45.

  From these considerations I was anxious to obtain information as
to the Scotch deer-hound, the sexes of which differ more in size
than those of any other breed (though blood-hounds differ
considerably), or than in any wild canine species known to me.
Accordingly, I applied to Mr. Cupples, well known for his success with
this breed, who has with great kindness collected for me the following
facts from various sources. Fine male dogs, measured at the
shoulder, range from 28 inches, which is low, to 33 or even 34
inches in height; and in weight from 80 pounds, which is light, to 120
pounds, or even more. The females range in height from 23 to 27, or
even to 28 inches; and in weight from 50 to 70, or even 80 pounds.*
Mr. Cupples concludes that from 95 to 100 pounds for the male, and
70 for the female, would be a safe average; but there is reason to
believe that formerly both sexes attained a greater weight. Mr.
Cupples has weighed puppies when a fortnight old; in one litter the
average weight of four males exceeded that of two females by six and a
half ounces; in another litter the average weight of four males
exceeded that of one female by less than one ounce; the same males
when three weeks old, exceeded the female by seven and a half
ounces, and at the age of six weeks by nearly fourteen ounces. Mr.
Wright of Yeldersley House, in a letter to Mr. Cupples, says: "I
have taken notes on the sizes and weights of puppies of many
litters, and as far as my experience goes, dog-puppies as a rule
differ very little from bitches till they arrive at about five or
six months old; and then the dogs begin to increase, gaining upon
the bitches both in weight and size. At birth, and for several weeks
afterwards, a ****-puppy will occasionally be larger than any of
the dogs, but they are invariably beaten by them later." Mr.
McNeill, of Colonsay, concludes that "the males do not attain their
full growth till over two years old, though the females attain it
sooner." According to Mr. Cupples' experience, male dogs go on growing
in stature till they are from twelve to eighteen months old, and in
weight till from eighteen to twenty-four months old; whilst the
females cease increasing in stature at the age of from nine to
fourteen or fifteen months, and in weight at the age of from twelve to
fifteen months. From these various statements it is clear that the
full difference in size between the male and female Scotch
deer-hound is not acquired until rather late in life. The males almost
exclusively are used for coursing, for, as Mr. McNeill informs me, the
females have not sufficient strength and weight to pull down a
full-grown deer. From the names used in old legends, it appears, as
I hear from Mr. Cupples, that, at a very ancient period, the males
were the most celebrated, the females being mentioned only as the
mothers of famous dogs. Hence, during many generations, it is the male
which has been chiefly tested for strength, size, speed, and
courage, and the best will have been bred from. As, however, the males
do not attain their full dimensions until rather late in life, they
will have tended, in accordance with the law often indicated, to
transmit their characters to their male offspring alone; and thus
the great inequality in size between the sexes of the Scotch
deer-hound may probably be accounted for.

  * See also Richardson's Manual on the Dog, p. 59. Much valuable
information on the Scottish deer-hound is given by Mr. McNeill, who
first called attention to the inequality in size between the sexes, in
Scrope's Art of Deer-Stalking. I hope that Mr. Cupples will keep to
his intention of publishing a full account and history of this
famous breed.

  The males of some few quadrupeds possess organs or parts developed
solely as a means of defence against the attacks of other males.
Some kinds of deer use, as we have seen, the upper branches of their
horns chiefly or exclusively for defending themselves; and the Oryx
antelope, as I am informed by Mr. Bartlett, fences most skilfully with
his long, gently curved horns; but these are likewise used as organs
of offence. The same observer remarks that rhinoceroses in fighting,
parry each other's sidelong blows with their horns, which clatter
loudly together, as do the tusks of boars. Although wild boars fight
desperately, they seldom, according to Brehm, receive fatal wounds, as
the blows fall on each other's tusks, or on the layer of gristly
skin covering the shoulder, called by the German hunters, the
shield; and here we have a part specially modified for defence. With
boars in the prime of life (see fig. 65) the tusks in the lower jaw
are used for fighting, but they become in old age, as Brehm states, so
much curved inwards and upwards over the snout that they can no longer
be used in this way. They may, however, still serve, and even more
effectively, as a means of defence. In compensation for the loss of
the lower tusks as weapons of offence, those in the upper jaw, which
always project a little laterally, increase in old age so much in
length and curve so much upwards that they can be used for attack.
Nevertheless, an old boar is not so dangerous to man as one at the age
of six or seven years.*

  * Brehm, Thierleben, B. ii., ss. 729-32.

  In the full-grown male Babirusa pig of Celebes (see fig. 66), the
lower tusks are formidable weapons, like those of the European boar in
the prime of life, whilst the upper tusks are so long and have their
points so much curled inwards, sometimes even touching the forehead,
that they are utterly useless as weapons of attack. They more nearly
resemble horns than teeth, and are so manifestly useless as teeth that
the animal was formerly supposed to rest his head by hooking them on
to a branch! Their convex surfaces, however, if the head were held a
little laterally, would serve as an excellent guard; and hence,
perhaps, it is that in old animals they "are generally broken off,
as if by fighting."* Here, then, we have the curious case of the upper
tusks of the Babirusa regularly assuming during the prime of life a
structure which apparently renders them fitted only for defence;
whilst in the European boar the lower tusks assume in a less degree
and only during old age nearly the same form, and then serve in like
manner solely for defence.

  * See Mr. Wallace's interesting account of this animal, The Malay
Archipelago, 1869, vol. i., p. 435.

  In the wart-hog (see Phacochoerus aethiopicus, fig. 67) the tusks in
the upper jaw of the male curve upwards during the prime of life,
and from being pointed serve as formidable weapons. The tusks in the
lower jaw are sharper than those in the upper, but from their
shortness it seems hardly possible that they can be used as weapons of
attack. They must, however, greatly strengthen those in the upper jaw,
from being ground so as to fit closely against their bases. Neither
the upper nor the lower tusks appear to have been specially modified
to act as guards, though no doubt they are to a certain extent used
for this purpose. But the wart-hog is not destitute of other special
means of protection, for it has, on each side of the face, beneath the
eyes, a rather stiff, yet flexible, cartilaginous, oblong pad (see
fig. 67), which projects two or three inches outwards; and it appeared
to Mr. Bartlett and myself, when viewing the living animal, that these
pads, when struck from beneath by the tusks of an opponent, would be
turned upwards, and would thus admirably protect the somewhat
prominent eyes. I may add, on the authority of Mr. Bartlett, that
these boars when fighting stand directly face to face.
  Lastly, the African river-hog (Potomochoerus penicillatus) has a
hard cartilaginous knob on each side of the face beneath the eyes,
which answers to the flexible pad of the wart-hog; it has also two
bony prominences on the upper jaw above the nostrils. A boar of this
species in the Zoological Gardens recently broke into the cage of
the wart-hog. They fought all night long, and were found in the
morning much exhausted, but not seriously wounded. It is a significant
fact, as shewing the purposes of the above-described projections and
excrescences, that these were covered with blood, and were scored
and abraded in an extraordinary manner.
  Although the males of so many members of the pig family are provided
with weapons, and as we have just seen with means of defence, these
weapons seem to have been acquired within a rather late geological
period. Dr. Forsyth Major specifies* several miocene species, in
none of which do the tusks appear to have been largely developed in
the males; and Professor Rutimeyer was formerly struck with this
same fact.

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