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01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-05 -Character of Domestic Varieties 10 When we look to the hereditary varieties or races of our domestic animals and plants, and compare them with closely allied species, we generally perceive in each domestic race, as already remarked, less uniformity of character than in true species.
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Domestic races often have a somewhat monstrous character; by which I mean, that, although differing from each other, and from other species of the same genus, in several trifling respects, they often differ in an extreme degree in some one part, both when compared one with another, and more especially when compared with the species under nature to which they are nearest allied. With these exceptions (and with that of the perfect fertility of varieties when crossed,- a subject hereafter to be discussed), domestic races of the same species differ from each other in the same manner as do the closely-allied species of the same genus in a state of nature, but the differences in most cases are less in degree.

This must be admitted as true, for the domestic races of many animals and plants have been ranked by some competent judges as the descendants of aboriginally distinct species, and by other competent judges as mere varieties.
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-06 - Difficulty of distinguishing between Varieties and Species 10 In attempting to estimate the amount of structural differencebetween allied domestic races, we are soon involved in doubt, from not knowing whether they are descended from one or several parent species.

This point, if it could be cleared up, would be interesting; if, for instance, it could be shown that the greyhound, bloodhound, terrier, spaniel, and bull-dog, which we all know propagate their kind truly, were the offspring of any single species, then such facts would have great weight in making us doubt about the immutability of the many closely allied natural species-

greyhound
greyhound

bloodhound
bloodhound

terrier
terrier

spaniel
spaniel

bulldog
bulldog


for instance, of the many foxes- inhabiting different quarters of the world. I do not believe, as we shall presently see, that the whole amount of difference between the several breeds of the dog has been produced under domestication;

fox
fox


I believe that a small part of the difference is due to their being descended from distinct species.

In the case of strongly marked races of some other domesticated species, there is presumptive or even strong evidence, that all are descended from a single wild stock.
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-07 - Origin of Domestic Varieties from one or more Species 10 In the case of most of our anciently domesticated animals and plants, it is not possible to come to any definite conclusion, whether they are descended from one or several wild species.

The argument mainly relied on by those who believe in the multiple origin of our domestic animals is, that we find in the most ancient times, on the monuments of Egypt, and in the lake-habitations of Switzerland, much diversity in the breeds;

Egypt
Egypt

Switzerland
Switzerland



and that some of these ancient breeds closely resemble, or are even identical with, those still existing.

But this only throws far backwards the history of civilisation, and shows that animals were domesticated at a much earlier period than has hitherto been supposed.
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-08 - Breeds of the Domestic Pigeons, their Differences and Origin 10 Believing that it is always best to study some special group, I have, after deliberation, taken up domestic pigeons.

Rock Pigeon
Rock Pigeon


I have kept every breed which I could purchase or obtain, and have been most kindly favoured with skins from several quarters of the world, more especially by the Hon. W. Elliot from India, and by the Hon. C. Murray from Persia.

Many treatises in different languages have been published on pigeons, and some of them are very important, as being of considerable antiquity.

I have associated with several eminent fanciers, and have been permitted to join two of the London Pigeon Clubs.

The diversity of the breeds is something astonishing.

Compare the English carrier and the short-faced tumbler, and see the wonderful difference in their beaks, entailing corresponding differences in their skulls.

English Carrier Pigeon
English Carrier Pigeon

Short Faced Tumbler Pigeon
Short Faced Tumbler Pigeon


The carrier, more especially the male bird, is also remarkable from the wonderful development of the carunculated skin about the head; and this is accompanied by greatly elongated eyelids, very large external orifices to the nostrils, and a wide gape of mouth.

The short-faced tumbler has a beak in outline almost like that of a finch; and the common tumbler has the singular inherited habit of flying at a great height in a compact flock, and tumbling in the air head over heels.

The runt is a bird of great size, with long massive beak and large feet; some of the sub-breeds of runts have very long necks, others very long wings and tails, others singularly short tails.

Runt Pigeon
Runt Pigeon


The barb is allied to the carrier, but, instead of a long beak has a very short and broad one.

The pouter has a much elongated body, wings, and legs; and its enormously developed crop, which it glories in inflating, may well excite astonishment and even laughter.

Barb Pigeon
Barb Pigeon



The turbit has a short and conical beak, with a line of reversed feathers down the breast; and it has the habit of continually expanding slightly, the upper part of the oesophagus. The Jacobin has the feathers so much reversed along the back of the neck that they form a hood; and it has, proportionally to its size, elongated wing and tail feathers.

Turbit Pigeon
Turbit Pigeon

Jacobin Pigeon
Jacobin Pigeon


The trumpeter and laugher, as their names express, utter a very different coo from the other breeds.

The fantail has thirty or even forty tailfeathers, instead of twelve or fourteen- the normal number in all the members of the great pigeon family: these feathers are kept expanded, and are carried so erect, that in good birds the head and tail touch: the oil-gland is quite aborted.

Several other less distinct breeds might be specified.

English Trumpeter Pigeon
English Trumpeter Pigeon