The Descent of Man – Day 127 of 151

From these considerations I was anxious to obtain information as to the Scotch deer-hound, the sexes of which differ more in size than those of any other breed (though blood-hounds differ considerably), or than in any wild canine species known to me. Accordingly, I applied to Mr. Cupples, well known for his success with this breed, who has weighed and measured many of his own dogs, and who has with great kindness collected for me the following facts from various sources. Fine male dogs, measured at the shoulder, range from 28 inches, which is low, to 33 or even 34 inches in height; and in weight from 80 pounds, which is light, to 120 pounds, or even more. The females range in height from 23 to 27, or even to 28 inches; and in weight from 50 to 70, or even 80 pounds. (38. See also Richardson’s ‘Manual on the Dog,’ p. 59. Much valuable information on the Scottish deer-hound is given by Mr. McNeill, who first called attention to the inequality in size between the sexes, in Scrope’s ‘Art of Deer-Stalking.’ I hope that Mr. Cupples will keep to his intention of publishing a full account and history of this famous breed.) Mr. Cupples concludes that from 95 to 100 pounds for the male, and 70 for the female, would be a safe average; but there is reason to believe that formerly both sexes attained a greater weight. Mr. Cupples has weighed puppies when a fortnight old; in one litter the average weight of four males exceeded that of two females by six and a half ounces; in another litter the average weight of four males exceeded that of one female by less than one ounce; the same males when three weeks old, exceeded the female by seven and a half ounces, and at the age of six weeks by nearly fourteen ounces. Mr. Wright of Yeldersley House, in a letter to Mr. Cupples, says: “I have taken notes on the sizes and weights of puppies of many litters, and as far as my experience goes, dog-puppies as a rule differ very little from bitches till they arrive at about five or six months old; and then the dogs begin to increase, gaining upon the bitches both in weight and size. At birth, and for several weeks afterwards, a bitch-puppy will occasionally be larger than any of the dogs, but they are invariably beaten by them later.” Mr. McNeill, of Colonsay, concludes that “the males do not attain their full growth till over two years old, though the females attain it sooner.” According to Mr. Cupples’ experience, male dogs go on growing in stature till they are from twelve to eighteen months old, and in weight till from eighteen to twenty-four months old; whilst the females cease increasing in stature at the age of from nine to fourteen or fifteen months, and in weight at the age of from twelve to fifteen months. From these various statements it is clear that the full difference in size between the male and female Scotch deer-hound is not acquired until rather late in life. The males almost exclusively are used for coursing, for, as Mr. McNeill informs me, the females have not sufficient strength and weight to pull down a full-grown deer. From the names used in old legends, it appears, as I hear from Mr. Cupples, that, at a very ancient period, the males were the most celebrated, the females being mentioned only as the mothers of famous dogs. Hence, during many generations, it is the male which has been chiefly tested for strength, size, speed, and courage, and the best will have been bred from. As, however, the males do not attain their full dimensions until rather late in life, they will have tended, in accordance with the law often indicated, to transmit their characters to their male offspring alone; and thus the great inequality in size between the sexes of the Scotch deer-hound may probably be accounted for.

Head of Common wild boar, in prime of life (from Brehm).

Figure 65: Head of Common wild boar, in prime of life (from Brehm).

The males of some few quadrupeds possess organs or parts developed solely as a means of defence against the attacks of other males. Some kinds of deer use, as we have seen, the upper branches of their horns chiefly or exclusively for defending themselves; and the Oryx antelope, as I am informed by Mr. Bartlett, fences most skilfully with his long, gently curved horns; but these are likewise used as organs of offence. The same observer remarks that rhinoceroses in fighting, parry each other’s sidelong blows with their horns, which clatter loudly together, as do the tusks of boars. Although wild boars fight desperately, they seldom, according to Brehm, receive fatal wounds, as the blows fall on each other’s tusks, or on the layer of gristly skin covering the shoulder, called by the German hunters, the shield; and here we have a part specially modified for defence. With boars in the prime of life (Fig. 65) the tusks in the lower jaw are used for fighting, but they become in old age, as Brehm states, so much curved inwards and upwards over the snout that they can no longer be used in this way. They may, however, still serve, and even more effectively, as a means of defence. In compensation for the loss of the lower tusks as weapons of offence, those in the upper jaw, which always project a little laterally, increase in old age so much in length and curve so much upwards that they can be used for attack. Nevertheless, an old boar is not so dangerous to man as one at the age of six or seven years. (39. Brehm, ‘Thierleben,’ B. ii. ss. 729-732.)

Skull of the Babirusa Pig (from Wallace's 'Malay Archipelago').

Figure 66: Skull of the Babirusa Pig (from Wallace’s ‘Malay Archipelago’).

In the full-grown male Babirusa pig of Celebes (Fig. 66), the lower tusks are formidable weapons, like those of the European boar in the prime of life, whilst the upper tusks are so long and have their points so much curled inwards, sometimes even touching the forehead, that they are utterly useless as weapons of attack. They more nearly resemble horns than teeth, and are so manifestly useless as teeth that the animal was formerly supposed to rest his head by hooking them on to a branch! Their convex surfaces, however, if the head were held a little laterally, would serve as an excellent guard; and hence, perhaps, it is that in old animals they “are generally broken off, as if by fighting.” (40. See Mr. Wallace’s interesting account of this animal, ‘The Malay Archipelago,’ 1869, vol. i. p. 435.) Here, then, we have the curious case of the upper tusks of the Babirusa regularly assuming during the prime of life a structure which apparently renders them fitted only for defence; whilst in the European boar the lower tusks assume in a less degree and only during old age nearly the same form, and then serve in like manner solely for defence.

Head of female Aethopian wart-hog, from 'Proc. Zool. Soc.' 1869, shewing the same characters as the male, though on a reduced scale. N.B. When the engraving was first made, I was under the impression that it represented the male.

Figure 67: Head of female Aethopian wart-hog, from ‘Proc. Zool. Soc.’ 1869, shewing the same characters as the male, though on a reduced scale. N.B. When the engraving was first made, I was under the impression that it represented the male.

In the wart-hog (see Phacochoerus aethiopicus, Fig. 67) the tusks in the upper jaw of the male curve upwards during the prime of life, and from being pointed serve as formidable weapons. The tusks in the lower jaw are sharper than those in the upper, but from their shortness it seems hardly possible that they can be used as weapons of attack. They must, however, greatly strengthen those in the upper jaw, from being ground so as to fit closely against their bases. Neither the upper nor the lower tusks appear to have been specially modified to act as guards, though no doubt they are to a certain extent used for this purpose. But the wart-hog is not destitute of other special means of protection, for it has, on each side of the face, beneath the eyes, a rather stiff, yet flexible, cartilaginous, oblong pad (Fig. 67), which projects two or three inches outwards; and it appeared to Mr. Bartlett and myself, when viewing the living animal, that these pads, when struck from beneath by the tusks of an opponent, would be turned upwards, and would thus admirably protect the somewhat prominent eyes. I may add, on the authority of Mr. Bartlett, that these boars when fighting stand directly face to face.

Lastly, the African river-hog (Potomochoerus penicillatus) has a hard cartilaginous knob on each side of the face beneath the eyes, which answers to the flexible pad of the wart-hog; it has also two bony prominences on the upper jaw above the nostrils. A boar of this species in the Zoological Gardens recently broke into the cage of the wart-hog. They fought all night long, and were found in the morning much exhausted, but not seriously wounded. It is a significant fact, as shewing the purposes of the above-described projections and excrescences, that these were covered with blood, and were scored and abraded in an extraordinary manner.

Although the males of so many members of the pig family are provided with weapons, and as we have just seen with means of defence, these weapons seem to have been acquired within a rather late geological period. Dr. Forsyth Major specifies (41. ‘Atti della Soc. Italiana di Sc. Nat.’ 1873, vol. xv. fasc. iv.) several miocene species, in none of which do the tusks appear to have been largely developed in the males; and Professor Rutimeyer was formerly struck with this same fact.

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.” (42. ‘The Times,’ Nov. 10, 1857. In regard to the Canada lynx, see Audubon and Bachman, ‘Quadrupeds of North America,’ 1846, p. 139.) 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) (43. 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.) 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.

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.

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