These appendages are erected under the excitement of anger or terror; more especially when these emotions are combined, or quickly succeed each other. The action serves to make the animal appear larger and more frightful to its enemies or rivals, and is generally accompanied by various voluntary movements adapted for the same purpose, and by the utterance of savage sounds. Mr. Bartlett, who has had such wide experience with animals of all kinds, does not doubt that this is the case; but it is a different question whether the power of erection was primarily acquired for this special purpose.

[8] I have given some details on this subject in my `Descent of Man,' vol. i. pp. 352, 384.

I will first give a considerable body of facts showing how general this action is with mammals, birds and reptiles; retaining what I have to say in regard to man for a future chapter. Mr. Sutton, the intelligent keeper in the Zoological Gardens, carefully observed for me the Chimpanzee and Orang; and he states that when they are suddenly frightened, as by a thunderstorm, or when they are made angry, as by being teased, their hair becomes erect. I saw a chimpanzee who was alarmed at the sight of a black coalheaver, and the hair rose all over his body; he made little starts forward as if to attack the man, without any real intention of doing so, but with the hope, as the keeper remarked, of frightening him. The Gorilla, when enraged, is described by Mr. Ford[9] as having his crest of hair "erect and projecting forward, his nostrils dilated, and his under lip thrown down; at the same time uttering his characteristic yell, designed, it would seem, to terrify his antagonists." I saw the hair on the Anubis baboon, when angered bristling along the back, from the neck to the loins, but not on the rump or other parts of the body. I took a stuffed snake into the monkey-house, and the hair on several of the species instantly became erect; especially on their tails, as I particularly noticed with the _Cereopithecus nictitans_. Brehm states[10] that the _Midas aedipus_ (belonging to the American division) when excited erects its mane, in order, as he adds, to make itself as frightful as possible.

[9] As quoted in Huxley's `Evidence as to Man's Place in Nature,' 1863, p. 52.

With the Carnivora the erection of the hair seems to be almost universal, often accompanied by threatening movements, the uncovering of the teeth and the utterance of savage growls. In the Herpestes, I have seen the hair on end over nearly the whole body, including the tail; and the dorsal crest is erected in a conspicuous manner by the Hyaena and Proteles. The enraged lion erects his mane. The bristling of the hair along the neck and back of the dog, and over the whole body of the cat, especially on the tail, is familiar to every one. With the cat it apparently occurs only under fear; with the dog, under anger and fear; but not, as far as I have observed, under abject fear, as when a dog is going to be flogged by a severe gamekeeper. If, however, the dog shows fight, as sometimes happens, up goes his hair. I have often noticed that the hair of a dog is particularly liable to rise, if he is half angry and half afraid, as on beholding some object only indistinctly seen in the dusk.

I have been assured by a veterinary surgeon that he has often seen the hair erected on horses and cattle, on which he had operated and was again going to operate. When I showed a stuffed snake to a Peccary, the hair rose in a wonderful manner along its back; and so it does with the boar when enraged. An Elk which gored a man to death in the United States, is described as first brandishing his antlers, squealing with rage and stamping on the ground; "at length his hair was seen to rise and stand on end," and then he plunged forward to the attack.[11] The hair likewise becomes erect on goats, and, as I hear from Mr. Blyth, on some Indian antelopes. I have seen it erected on the hairy Ant-eater; and on the Agouti, one of the Rodents.

The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals Page 40

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

Free Books in the public domain from the Classic Literature Library ©

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book