But there is no greater improbability in various structures, such as the rattle of the rattle-snake,-- the lateral scales of the Echis,--the neck with the included ribs of the Cobra,--and the whole body of the puff-adder,--having been modified for the sake of warning and frightening away their enemies, than in a bird, namely, the wonderful Secretary-hawk (_Gypogeranus_) having had its whole frame modified for the sake of killing snakes with impunity. It is highly probable, judging from what we have before seen, that this bird would ruffle its feathers whenever it attacked a snake; and it is certain that the Herpestes, when it eagerly rushes to attack a snake, erects the hair all over its body, and especially that on its tail.[32] We have also seen that some porcupines, when angered or alarmed at the sight of a snake, rapidly vibrate their tails, thus producing a peculiar sound by the striking together of the hollow quills. So that here both the attackers and the attacked endeavour to make themselves as dreadful as possible to each other; and both possess for this purpose specialised means, which, oddly enough, are nearly the same in some of these cases. Finally we can see that if, on the one hand, those individual snakes, which were best able to frighten away their enemies, escaped best from being devoured; and if, on the other hand, those individuals of the attacking enemy survived in larger numbers which were the best fitted for the dangerous task of killing and devouring venomous snakes;-- then in the one case as in the other, beneficial variations, supposing the characters in question to vary, would commonly have been preserved through the survival of the fittest.

[29] See the account by Dr. R. Brown, in Proc. Zool. Soc. 1871, p. 39. He says that as soon as a pig sees a snake it rushes upon it; and a snake makes off immediately on the appearance of a pig.

[30] Dr. Gunther remarks (`Reptiles of British India,' p. 340) on the destruction of cobras by the ichneumon or herpestes, and whilst the cobras are young by the jungle-fowl. It is well known that the peacock also eagerly kills snakes.

[31] Prof. Cope enumerates a number of kinds in his `Method of Creation of Organic Types,' read before the American Phil. Soc., December 15th, 1871, p. 20. Prof. Cope takes the same view as I do of the use of the gestures and sounds made by snakes. I briefly alluded to this subject in the last edition of my `Origin of Species.' Since the passages in the text above have been printed, I have been pleased to find that Mr. Henderson (`The American Naturalist,' May, 1872, p. 260) also takes a similar view of the use of the rattle, namely "in preventing an attack from being made."

_The Drawing back and pressure of the Ears to the Head_.--The ears through their movements are highly expressive in many animals; but in some, such as man, the higher apes, and many ruminants, they fail in this respect. A slight difference in position serves to express in the plainest manner a different state of mind, as we may daily see in the dog; but we are here concerned only with the ears being drawn closely backwards and pressed to the head. A savage frame of mind is thus shown, but only in the case of those animals which fight with their teeth; and the care which they take to prevent their ears being seized by their antagonists, accounts for this position. Consequently, through habit and association, whenever they feel slightly savage, or pretend in their play to be savage, their ears are drawn back. That this is the true explanation may be inferred from the relation which exists in very many animals between their manner of fighting and the retraction of their ears.

[32] Mr. des Voeux, in Proc. Zool. Soc. 1871, p. 3.

All the Carnivora fight with their canine teeth, and all, as far as I have observed, draw their ears back when feeling savage. This may be continually seen with dogs when fighting in earnest, and with puppies fighting in play. The movement is different from the falling down and slight drawing back of the ears, when a dog feels pleased and is caressed by his master. The retraction of the ears may likewise be seen in kittens fighting together in their play, and in full-grown cats when really savage, as before illustrated in fig.

The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals Page 46

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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