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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, 01:22:47 pm »

* Atti della Soc. Italiana di Sc. Nat., 1873, vol. xv. fasc. iv.

  The mane of the lion forms a good defence against the attacks of
rival lions, the one danger to which he is liable; for the males, as
Sir A. Smith informs me, engage in terrible battles, and a young
lion dares not approach an old one. In 1857 a tiger at Bromwich
broke into the cage of a lion and a fearful scene ensued: "the
lion's mane saved his neck and head from being much injured, but the
tiger at last succeeded in ripping up his belly, and in a few
minutes he was dead."* The broad ruff round the throat and chin of the
Canadian lynx (Felis canadensis) is much longer in the male than in
the female; but whether it serves as a defence I do not know. Male
seals are well known to fight desperately together, and the males of
certain kinds (Otaria jubata)*(2) have great manes, whilst the females
have small ones or none. The male baboon of the Cape of Good Hope
(Cynocephalus porcarius) has a much longer mane and larger canine
teeth than the female; and the mane probably serves as a protection,
for, on asking the keepers in the Zoological Gardens, without giving
them any clue to my object, whether any of the monkeys especially
attacked each other by the nape of the neck, I was answered that
this was not the case, except with the above baboon. In the
Hamadryas baboon, Ehrenberg compares the mane of the adult male to
that of a young lion, whilst in the young of both sexes and in the
female the mane is almost absent.

  * The Times, Nov. 10, 1857. In regard to the Canada lynx, see
Audubon and Bachman, Quadrupeds of North America, 1846, p. 139.
  *(2) Dr. Murie, on Otaria, Proc. Zoolog. Soc., 1869, p. 109. Mr.
J. A. Allen, in the paper above quoted (p. 75), doubts whether the
hair, which is longer on the neck in the male than in the female,
deserves to be called a mane.

  It appeared to me probable that the immense woolly mane of the
male American bison, which reaches almost to the ground, and is much
more developed in the males than in the females, served as a
protection to them in their terrible battles; but an experienced
hunter told Judge Caton that he had never observed anything which
favoured this belief. The stallion has a thicker and fuller mane
than the mare; and I have made particular inquiries of two great
trainers and breeders, who have had charge of many entire horses,
and am assured that they "invariably endeavour to seize one another by
the neck." It does not, however, follow from the foregoing statements,
that when the hair on the neck serves as a defence, that it was
originally developed for this purpose, though this is probable in some
cases, as in that of the lion. I am informed by Mr. McNeill that the
long hairs on the throat of the stag (Cervus elaphus) serve as a great
protection to him when hunted, for the dogs generally endeavour to
seize him by the throat; but it is not probable that these hairs
were specially developed for this purpose; otherwise the young and the
females would have been equally protected.

  Choice in Pairing by either Sex of Quadrupeds.- Before describing in
the next chapter, the differences between the sexes in voice, odours
emitted, and ornaments, it will be convenient here to consider whether
the sexes exert any choice in their unions. Does the female prefer any
particular male, either before or after the males may have fought
together for supremacy; or does the male, when not a polygamist,
select any particular female? The general impression amongst
breeders seems to be that the male accepts any female; and this
owing to his eagerness, is, in most cases, probably the truth. Whether
the female as a general rule indifferently accepts any male is much
more doubtful. In the fourteenth chapter, on birds, a considerable
body of direct and indirect evidence was advanced, shewing that the
female selects her partner; and it would be a strange anomaly if
female quadrupeds, which stand higher in the scale and have higher
mental powers, did not generally, or at least often, exert some
choice. The female could in most cases escape, if wooed by a male that
did not please or excite her; and when pursued by several males, as
commonly occurs, she would often have the opportunity, whilst they
were fighting together, of escaping with some one male, or at least of
temporarily pairing with him. This latter contingency has often been
observed in Scotland with female red-deer, as I am informed by Sir
Philip Egerton and others.*

  * Mr. Boner, in his excellent description of the habits of the
red-deer in Germany (Forest Creatures, 1861, p. 81) says, "while the
stag is defending his rights against one intruder, another invades the
sanctuary of his harem, and carries off trophy after trophy."
Exactly the same thing occurs with seals; see Mr. J. A. Allen,
ibid., p. 100.

  It is scarcely possible that much should be known about female
quadrupeds in a state of nature making any choice in their marriage
unions. The following curious details on the courtship of one of the
eared seals (Callorhinus ursinus) are given* on the authority of Capt.
Bryant, who had ample opportunities for observation. He says, "Many of
the females on their arrival at the island where they breed appear
desirous of returning to some particular male, and frequently climb
the outlying rocks to overlook the rookeries, calling out and
listening as if for a familiar voice. Then changing to another place
they do the same again.... As soon as a female reaches the shore,
the nearest male goes down to meet her, making meanwhile a noise
like the clucking of a hen to her chickens. He bows to her and
coaxes her until he gets between her and the water so that she
cannot escape him. Then his manner changes, and with a harsh growl
he drives her to a place in his harem. This continues until the
lower row of harems is nearly full. Then the males higher up select
the time when their more fortunate neighbours are off their guard to
steal their wives. This they do by taking them in their mouths and
lifting them over the heads of the other females, and carefully
placing them in their own harem, carrying them as cats do their
kittens. Those still higher up pursue the same method until the
whole space is occupied. Frequently a struggle ensues between two
males for the possession of the same female, and both seizing her at
once pull her in two or terribly lacerate her with their teeth. When
the space is all filled, the old male walks around complacently
reviewing his family, scolding those who crowd or disturb the
others, and fiercely driving off all intruders. This surveillance
always keeps him actively occupied."

  * Mr. J. A. Allen in Bull. Mus. Comp. Zoolog. of Cambridge, United
States, vol. ii., No. 1, p. 99.

  As so little is known about the courtship of animals in a state of
nature, I have endeavoured to discover how far our domesticated
quadrupeds evince any choice in their unions. Dogs offer the best
opportunity for observation, as they are carefully attended to and
well understood. Many breeders have expressed a strong opinion on this
head. Thus, Mr. Mayhew remarks, "The females are able to bestow
their affections; and tender recollections are as potent over them
as they are known to be in other cases, where higher animals are
concerned. Bitches are not always prudent in their loves, but are
apt to fling themselves away on curs of low degree. If reared with a
companion of vulgar appearance, there often springs up between the
pair a devotion which no time can afterwards subdue. The passion,
for such it really is, becomes of a more than romantic endurance." Mr.
Mayhew, who attended chiefly to the smaller breeds, is convinced
that the females are strongly attracted by males of a large size.* The
well-known veterinary Blaine states*(2) that his own female pug dog
became so attached to a spaniel, and a female setter to a cur, that in
neither case would they pair with a dog of their own breed until
several weeks had elapsed. Two similar and trustworthy accounts have
been given me in regard to a female retriever and a spaniel, both of
which became enamoured with terrier-dogs.

  * Dogs: their Management, by E. Mayhew, M. R. C. V. S., 2nd ed.,
1864, pp. 187-192.
  *(2) Quoted by Alex. Walker, On Intermarriage, 1838, p. 276; see
also p. 244.

  Mr. Cupples informs me that he can personally vouch for the accuracy
of the following more remarkable case, in which a valuable and
wonderfully-intelligent female terrier loved a retriever belonging
to a neighbour to such a degree, that she had often to be dragged away
from him. After their permanent separation, although repeatedly
showing milk in her teats, she would never acknowledge the courtship
of any other dog, and to the regret of her owner never bore puppies.
Mr. Cupples also states, that in 1868, a female deerhound in his
kennel thrice produced puppies, and on each occasion shewed a marked
preference for one of the largest and handsomest, but not the most
eager, of four deerhounds living with her, all in the prime of life.
Mr. Cupples has observed that the female generally favours a dog
whom she has associated with and knows; her shyness and timidity at
first incline her against a strange dog. The male, on the contrary,
seems rather inclined towards strange females. It appears to be rare
when the male refuses any particular female, but Mr. Wright, of
Yeldersley House, a great breeder of dogs, informs me that he has
known some instances; he cites the case of one of his own
deerhounds, who would not take any notice of a particular female
mastiff, so that another deerhound had to be employed. It would be
superfluous to give, as I could, other instances, and I will only
add that Mr. Barr, who has carefully bred many bloodhounds, states
that in almost every instance particular individuals of opposite sexes
shew a decided preference for each other. Finally, Mr. Cupples,
after attending to this subject for another year, has written to me,
"I have had full confirmation of my former statement, that dogs in
breeding form decided preferences for each other, being often
influenced by size, bright colour, and individual characters, as
well as by the degree of their previous familiarity."
  In regard to horses, Mr. Blenkiron, the greatest breeder of
race-horses in the world, informs me that stallions are so
frequently capricious in their choice, rejecting one mare and
without any apparent cause taking to another, that various artifices
have to be habitually used. The famous Monarque, for instance, would
never consciously look at the dam of Gladiateur, and a trick had to be
practised. We can partly see the reason why valuable race-horse
stallions, which are in such demand as to be exhausted, should be so
particular in their choice. Mr. Blenkiron has never known a mare to
reject a horse; but this has occured in Mr. Wright's stable, so that
the mare had to be cheated. Prosper Lucas* quotes various statements
from French authorities, and remarks, "On voit des etalons qui
s'eprennent d'une jument, et negligent toutes les autres." He gives,
on the authority of Baelen, similar facts in regard to bulls; and
Mr. H. Reeks assures me that a famous short-horn bull belonging to his
father "invariably refused to be matched with a black cow."
Hoffberg, in describing the domesticated reindeer of Lapland says,
"Foeminae majores et fortiores mares prae, caeteris admittunt, ad
eos confugiunt, a junioribus agitatae, qui hos in fugam
conjiciunt."*(2) A clergyman, who has bred many pigs, asserts that
sows often reject one boar and immediately accept another.

  * Traite de l'Hered. Nat., tom. ii., 1850, p. 296.
  *(2) Amaenitates Acad., vol. iv., 1788, p. 160.

  From these facts there can be no doubt that, with most of our
domesticated quadrupeds, strong individual antipathies and preferences
are frequently exhibited, and much more commonly by the female than by
the male. This being the case, it is improbable that the unions of
quadrupeds in a state of nature should be left to mere chance. It is
much more probable that the females are allured or excited by
particular males, who possess certain characters in a higher degree
than other males; but what these characters are, we can seldom or
never discover with certainty.

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