Not a member?     Existing members login below:
Holidays Offer
 

The Variation of Animals and Plants

Chapter V: Domestic Pigeons
ENUMERATION AND DESCRIPTION OF THE SEVERAL BREEDS — INDIVIDUAL VARIABILITY
— VARIATIONS OF A REMARKABLE NATURE — OSTEOLOGICAL CHARACTERS: SKULL,
LOWER JAW, NUMBER OF vertebræ — CORRELATION OF GROWTH: TONGUE WITH BEAK;
EYELIDS AND NOSTRILS WITH WATTLED SKIN — NUMBER OF WING-FEATHERS, AND
LENGTH OF WING — COLOUR AND DOWN — WEBBED AND FEATHERED FEET — ON THE
EFFECTS OF DISUSE — LENGTH OF FEET IN CORRELATION WITH LENGTH OF BEAK —
LENGTH OF STERNUM, SCAPULA, AND FURCULUM — LENGTH OF WINGS — SUMMARY ON
THE POINTS OF DIFFERENCE IN THE SEVERAL BREEDS.
I have been led to study domestic pigeons with particular care, because the evidence that
all the domestic races are descended from one known source is far clearer than with any
other anciently domesticated animal. Secondly, because many treatises in several
languages, some of them old, have been written on the pigeon, so that we are enabled to
trace the history of several breeds. And lastly, because, from causes which we can partly
understand, the amount of variation has been extraordinarily great. The details will often
be tediously minute; but no one who really wants to understand the progress of change in
domestic animals, and especially no one who has kept pigeons and has marked the great
difference between the breeds and the trueness with which most of them propagate their
kind, will doubt that this minuteness is worth while. Notwithstanding the clear evidence
that all the breeds are the descendants of a single species, I could not persuade myself
until some years had passed that the whole amount of difference between them, had
arisen since man first domesticated the wild rock-pigeon.
I have kept alive all the most distinct breeds, which I could procure in England or from
the Continent; and have prepared skeletons of all. I have received skins from Persia, and
a large number from India and other quarters of the world. Since my admission into two
of the London pigeon-clubs, I have received the kindest assistance from many of the most
eminent amateurs.
The races of the Pigeon which can be distinguished, and which breed true, are very
numerous. MM. Boitard and Corbié describe in detail 122 kinds; and I could add several
European kinds not known to them. In India, judging from the skins sent me, there are
many breeds unknown here; and Sir W. Elliot informs me that a collection imported by
an Indian merchant into Madras from Cairo and Constantinople included several kinds
unknown in India. I have no doubt that there exist considerably above 150 kinds which
breed true and have been separately named. But of these the far greater number differ
from each other only in unimportant characters. Such differences will be here entirely
passed over, and I shall confine myself to the more important points of structure. That
many important differences exist we shall presently see. I have looked through the
magnificent collection of the Columbidæ in the British Museum, and, with the exception
of a few forms (such as the Didunculus, Calænas, Goura, etc.), I do not hesitate to affirm
that some domestic races of the rock-pigeon differ fully as much from each other in
 
 
Remove