The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex HTML version

Secondary Sexual Characters Of Mammals
The law of battle--Special weapons, confined to the males--Cause of absence of weapons
in the female--Weapons common to both sexes, yet primarily acquired by the male--
Other uses of such weapons--Their high importance-- Greater size of the male--Means of
defence--On the preference shown by either sex in the pairing of quadrupeds.
With mammals the male appears to win the female much more through the law of battle
than through the display of his charms. The most timid animals, not provided with any
special weapons for fighting, engage in desperate conflicts during the season of love.
Two male hares have been seen to fight together until one was killed; male moles often
fight, and sometimes with fatal results; male squirrels engage in frequent contests, "and
often wound each other severely"; as do male beavers, so that "hardly a skin is without
scars." (1. See Waterton's account of two hares fighting, 'Zoologist,' vol. i. 1843, p. 211.
On moles, Bell, 'Hist. of British Quadrupeds,' 1st ed., p. 100. On squirrels, Audubon and
Bachman, Viviparous Quadrupeds of N. America, 1846, p. 269. On beavers, Mr. A.H.
Green, in 'Journal of Linnean Society, Zoology,' vol. x. 1869, p. 362.) I observed the
same fact with the hides of the guanacoes in Patagonia; and on one occasion several were
so absorbed in fighting that they fearlessly rushed close by me. Livingstone speaks of the
males of the many animals in Southern Africa as almost invariably shewing the scars
received in former contests.
The law of battle prevails with aquatic as with terrestrial mammals. It is notorious how
desperately male seals fight, both with their teeth and claws, during the breeding-season;
and their hides are likewise often covered with scars. Male sperm-whales are very jealous
at this season; and in their battles "they often lock their jaws together, and turn on their
sides and twist about"; so that their lower jaws often become distorted. (2. On the battles
of seals, see Capt. C. Abbott in 'Proc. Zool. Soc.' 1868, p. 191; Mr. R. Brown, ibid. 1868,
p. 436; also L. Lloyd, 'Game Birds of Sweden,' 1867, p. 412; also Pennant. On the sperm-
whale see Mr. J.H. Thompson, in 'Proc. Zool. Soc.' 1867, p. 246.)
All male animals which are furnished with special weapons for fighting, are well known
to engage in fierce battles. The courage and the desperate conflicts of stags have often
been described; their skeletons have been found in various parts of the world, with the
horns inextricably locked together, shewing how miserably the victor and vanquished had
perished. (3. See Scrope ('Art of Deer-stalking,' p. 17) on the locking of the horns with
the Cervus elaphus. Richardson, in 'Fauna Bor. Americana,' 1829, p. 252, says that the
wapiti, moose, and reindeer have been found thus locked together. Sir. A. Smith found at
the Cape of Good Hope the skeletons of two gnus in the same condition.) No animal in
the world is so dangerous as an elephant in must. Lord Tankerville has given me a
graphic description of the battles between the wild bulls in Chillingham Park, the
descendants, degenerated in size but not in courage, of the gigantic Bos primigenius. In
1861 several contended for mastery; and it was observed that two of the younger bulls
attacked in concert the old leader of the herd, overthrew and disabled him, so that he was
believed by the keepers to be lying mortally wounded in a neighbouring wood. But a few
days afterwards one of the young bulls approached the wood alone; and then the
"monarch of the chase," who had been lashing himself up for vengeance, came out and,
in a short time, killed his antagonist. He then quietly joined the herd, and long held
undisputed sway. Admiral Sir B.J. Sulivan informs me that, when he lived in the Falkland