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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 01-07 - Origin of Domestic Varieties from one or more Species 20 The lake-inhabitants of Switzerland cultivated several kinds of wheat and barley, the pea, the poppy for oil, and flax; and they possessed several domesticated animals.

Switzerland
Switzerland

wheat
wheat

barley
barley

pea
pea

poppy
poppy

oil
oil

flax
flax


They also carried on commerce with other nations.

All this clearly shows, as Reer has remarked, that they had at this early age progressed considerably in civilisation; and this again implies a long continued previous period of less advanced civilisation, during which the domesticated animals, kept by different tribes in different districts, might have varied and given rise to distinct races.
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-07 - Origin of Domestic Varieties from one or more Species 30 Since the discovery of flint tools in the superficial formations of many parts of the world, all geologists believe that barbarian man existed at an enormously remote period;

flint
flint


and we know that at the present day there is hardly a tribe so barbarous, as not to have domesticated at least the dog.

The origin of most of our domestic animals will probably for ever remain vague.

But I may here state, that, looking to the domestic dogs of the whole world, I have, after a laborious collection of all known facts, come to the conclusion that several wild species of Canidae have been tamed, and that their blood, in some cases mingled together, flows in the veins of our domestic breeds. In regard to sheep and goats I can form no decided opinion.

dog
dog

sheep
sheep

goat
goat
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-07 - Origin of Domestic Varieties from one or more Species 40 From facts communicated to me by Mr. Blyth, on the habits, voice, constitution, and structure of the humped Indian cattle, it is almost certain that they are descended from a different aboriginal stock from our European cattle;
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and some competent judges believe that these latter have had two or three wild progenitors,- whether or not these deserve to be called species.

This conclusion, as well as that of the specific distinction between the humped and common cattle, may, indeed, be looked upon as established by the admirable researches of Professor Rutimeyer.

With respect to horses, from reasons which I cannot here give, I am doubtfully inclined to believe, in opposition to several authors, that all the races belong to the same species.

horses
horses
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-07 - Origin of Domestic Varieties from one or more Species 50 Having kept nearly all the English breeds of the fowl alive, having bred and crossed them, and examined their skeletons, it appears to me almost certain that all are the descendants of the wild Indian fowl, Gallus bankiva; and this is the conclusion of Mr. Blyth, and of others who have studied this bird in India.
fowl
fowl

Edward Blyth
Edward Blyth

India
India


In regard to ducks and rabbits, some breeds of which differ much from each other, the evidence is clear that they are all descended from the common wild duck and rabbit.

ducks
ducks

rabbit
rabbit
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-07 - Origin of Domestic Varieties from one or more Species 60 The doctrine of the origin of our several domestic races from several aboriginal stocks, has been carried to an absurd extreme by some authors.

They believe that every race which breeds true, let the distinctive characters be ever so slight, has had its wild prototype.

At this rate there must have existed at least a score of species of wild cattle, as many sheep, and several goats, in Europe alone, and several even within Great Britain.

cattle
cattle

sheep
sheep

goat
goat

Europe
Europe

England
England


One author believes that there formerly existed eleven wild species of sheep peculiar to Great Britain!

When we bear in mind that Britain has now not one peculiar mammal, and France but few distinct from those of Germany, and so with Hungary, Spain, &c., but that each of these kingdoms possesses several peculiar breeds of cattle, sheep, &c., we must admit that many domestic breeds must have originated in Europe; for whence otherwise could they have been derived?

So it is in India. Even in the case of the breeds of the domestic dog throughout the world, which I admit are descended from several wild species, it cannot be doubted that there has been an immense amount of inherited variation; for who will believe that animals closely resembling the Italian greyhound, the bloodhound, the bull-dog, pug-dog, or Blenheim spaniel, &c.- so unlike all wild Canidae ever existed in a state of nature?

greyhound
greyhound

bloodhound
bloodhound

bulldog
bulldog

pugdog
pugdog

spaniel
spaniel
01 - Variations Under Domestication 01-07 - Origin of Domestic Varieties from one or more Species 70 It has often been loosely said that all our races of dogs have been produced by the crossing of a few aboriginal species; but by crossing we can only get forms in some degree intermediate between their parents; and if we account for our several domestic races by this process, we must admit the former existence of the most extreme forms, as the Italian greyhound, bloodhound, bulldog, &c., in the wild state.

greyhound
greyhound

bloodhound
bloodhound


Moreover, the possibility of making distinct races by crossing has been greatly exaggerated. Many cases are on record, showing that a race may be modified by occasional crosses, if aided by the careful selection of the individuals which present the desired character; but to obtain a race intermediate between two quite distinct races, would be very difficult. Sir J. Sebright expressly experimented with this object and failed.

The offspring from the first cross between two pure breeds is tolerably and sometimes (as I have found with pigeons) quite uniform in character, and everything seems simple enough; but when these mongrels are crossed one with another for several generations, hardly two of them are alike and then the difficulty of the task becomes manifest.

pigeon
pigeon