May not this be accounted for by the lessened use of the jaws, owing to nutritious food having been given during a long period to all highly improved pigeons? In Runts, Carriers, and Barbs (and in a lesser degree in several breeds), the whole side of the jaw near the articular end is bent inwards in a highly remarkable manner; and the superior margin of the ramus, beyond the middle, is reflexed in an equally remarkable manner, as may be seen in figure 25, in comparison with the jaw of the rock-pigeon. This reflection of the upper margin of the lower jaw is plainly connected with the singularly wide gape of the mouth, as has been described in Runts, Carriers, and Barbs. The reflection is well shown in figure 26 of the head of a Runt seen from above; here a wide open space may be observed on each side, between the edges of the lower jaw and of the premaxillary bones. In the rock-pigeon, and in several domestic breeds, the edges of the lower jaw on each side come close up to the premaxillary bones, so that no open space is left. The degree of downward curvature of the distal half of the lower jaw also differs to an extraordinary degree in some breeds, as may be seen in the drawings (figure 27 A) of the rock-pigeon, (B) of the Short-faced Tumbler, and (C) of the Bagadotten Carrier of Neumeister. In some Runts the symphysis of the lower jaw is remarkably solid. No one would readily have believed that jaws differing in the several above-specified points so greatly could have belonged to the same species.
All the breeds have twelve cervical vertebrae. (5/36. I am not sure that I have designated the different kinds of vertebra correctly: but I observe that different anatomists follow in this respect different rules, and, as I use the same terms in the comparison of all the skeletons, this, I hope, will not signify.) But in a Bussorah Carrier from India the twelfth vertebra carried a small rib, a quarter of an inch in length, with a perfect double articulation.
The DORSAL VERTEBRAE are always eight. In the rock-pigeon all eight bear ribs; the eighth rib being very thin, and the seventh having no process. In Pouters all the ribs are extremely broad, eight bear ribs; the eighth rib being very thin and the seventh having no process. In Pouters all the ribs are extremely broad, and, in three out of four skeletons examined by me, the eighth rib was twice or even thrice as broad as in the rock-pigeon; and the seventh pair had distinct processes. In many breeds there are only seven ribs, as in seven out of eight skeletons of various Tumblers, and in several skeletons of Fantails, Turbits and Nuns.
In all these breeds the seventh pair was very small, and was destitute of processes, in which respect it differed from the same rib in the rock- pigeon. In one Tumbler, and in the Bussorah Carrier, even the sixth pair had no process. The hypapophysis of the second dorsal vertebra varies much in development; being sometimes (as in several, but not all Tumblers) nearly as prominent as that of the third dorsal vertebra; and the two hypapophyses together tend to form an ossified arch. The development of the arch, formed by the hypapophyses of the third and fourth dorsal vertebrae, also varies considerably, as does the size of the hypapophysis of the fifth vertebra.
The rock-pigeon has twelve sacral vertebrae; but these vary in number, relative size, and distinctness, in the different breeds. In Pouters, with their elongated bodies, there are thirteen or even fourteen, and, as we shall immediately see, an additional number of caudal vertebrae. In Runts and Carriers there is generally the proper number, namely twelve; but in one Runt, and in the Bussorah Carrier, there were only eleven. In Tumblers there are either eleven, or twelve, or thirteen sacral vertebrae.
The CAUDAL VERTEBRAE are seven in number in the rock-pigeon. In Fantails, which have their tails so largely developed, there are eight or nine, and apparently in one case ten, and they are a little longer than in the rock- pigeon, and their shape varies considerably.