Most of themare likewise common to the aboriginal parents of the dog, namely the wolf and jackal; and some of them to other species of the same group. Tamed wolves and jackals, when caressed by their masters, jump about for joy, wag their tails, lower their ears, lick their master's hands, crouch down, and even throw themselves on the ground belly upwards.[4] I have seen a rather fox-like African jackal, from the Gaboon, depress its ears when caressed. Wolves and jackals, when frightened, certainly tuck in their tails; and a tamed jackal has been described as careering round his master in circles and figures of eight, like a dog, with his tail between his legs. It has been stated[5] that foxes, however tame, never display any of the above expressive movements; but this is not strictly accurate. Many years ago I observed in the Zoological Gardens, and recorded the fact at the time, that a very tame English fox, When caressed by the keeper, wagged its tail, depressed its ears, and then threw itself on the ground, belly upwards. The black fox of North America likewise depressed its ears in a slight degree. But I believe that foxes never lick the hands of their masters, and I have been assured that when frightened they never tuck in their tails. If the explanation which I have given of the expression of affection in dogs be admitted, then it would appear that animals which have never been domesticated--namely wolves, jackals, and even foxes-- have nevertheless ac- quired, through the principle of antithesis, certain expressive gestures; for it is Dot probable that these animals, confined in cages, should have learnt them by imitating dogs. [4] Many particulars are given by Gueldenstadt in his account of the jackal in Nov. Comm. Acad. Sc. Imp. Petrop. 1775, tom. xx. p. 449. See also another excellent account of the manners of this animal and of its play, in `Land and Water,' October, 1869. Lieut. Annesley, R. A., has also communicated to me some particulars with respect to the jackal. I have made many inquiries about wolves and jackals in the Zoological Gardens, and have observed them for myself. [5] `Land and Water,' November 6, 1869._Cats_.--I have already described the actions of a cat

(fig. 9), when feeling savage and not terrified. She assumes a crouching attitude and occasionally protrudes her fore-feet, with the claws exserted ready for striking. The tail is extended, being curled or lashed from side to side. The hair is not erected--at least it was not so in the few cases observed by me. The ears are drawn closely backwards and the teeth are shown. Low savage growls are uttered. We can understand why the attitude assumed by a cat when preparing to fight with another cat, or in any way greatly irritated, is so widely different from that of a dog approaching another dog with hostile intentions; for the cat uses her fore-feet for striking, and this renders a crouching position convenient or necessary. She is also much more accustomed than a dog to lie concealed and suddenly spring on her prey. No cause can be assigned with certainty for the tail being lashed or curled from side to side. This habit is common to many other animals--for instance, to the puma, when prepared to spring;[1] but it is not common to dogs, or to foxes, as I infer from Mr. St. John's account of a fox lying in wait and seizing a hare. We have already seen that some kinds of lizards and various snakes, when excited, rapidly vibrate the tips of their tails. It would appear as if, under strong excitement, there existed an uncontrollable desire for movement of some kind, owing to nerve-force being freely liberated from the excited sensorium; and that as the tail is left free, and as its movement does not disturb the general position of the body, it is curled or lashed about.

All the movements of a cat, when feeling affectionate, are in complete antithesis to those just described. She now stands upright, with slightly arched back, tail perpendicularly raised, and ears erected; and she rubs her cheeks and flanks against her master or mistress. The desire to rub something is so strong in cats under this state of mind, that they may often be seen rubbing themselves against the legs of chairs or tables, or against door-posts.

The Expression of Emotion in Man and Animals Page 52

19th Century English Literature

Charles Darwin

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Charles Darwin

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