To give an example: the first bird in the table, being a Short- faced Tumbler, is much smaller than the rock-pigeon, and would naturally have shorter feet; but it is found on calculation to have feet too short by .11 of an inch, in comparison with the feet of the rock-pigeon, relatively to the size of the body in these two birds, as measured from the base of beak to the oil-gland. So again, when this same Tumbler and the rock-pigeon were compared by the length of their wings, or by the extreme length of their bodies, the feet of the Tumbler were likewise found to be too short in very nearly the same proportion. I am well aware that the measurements pretend to greater accuracy than is possible, but it was less trouble to write down the actual measurements given by the compasses in each case than an approximation.



Column 1. Name of Breed.

Column 2. Actual length of Feet (inches).

Column 3. Difference between actual and calculated length of feet, in proportion to length of feet and size of body in the Rock-pigeon.

Column 3a. Too short by (inches).

Column 3b. Too long by (inches).

1. 2. 3a. 3b.

Wild rock-pigeon (mean measurement). 2.02

Carrier. 2.60 .. 0.31

Carrier. 2.60 .. 0.25

Carrier. 2.40 .. 0.21

Carrier, Dragon. 2.25 .. 0.06

Bagadotten Carrier. 2.80 .. 0.56

Scanderoon, white. 2.80 .. 0.37

Scanderoon, Pigeon cygne. 2.85 .. 0.29

Runt. 2.75 .. 0.27

Number of specimens. 8 .. 8

In these two tables (Tables 5.I.and 5.II.) we see in the first column the actual length of the feet in thirty-six birds belonging to various breeds, and in the two other columns we see by how much the feet are too short or too long, according to the size of bird, in comparison with the rock- pigeon. In the first table twenty-two specimens have their feet too short, on an average by a little above the tenth of an inch (viz. .107); and five specimens have their feet on an average a very little too long, namely, by .07 of an inch. But some of these latter cases can be explained; for instance, with Pouters the legs and feet are selected for length, and thus any natural tendency to a diminution in the length of the feet will have been counteracted. In the Swallow and Barb, when the calculation was made on any standard of comparison besides the one used (viz. length of body from base of beak to oil-gland), the feet were found to be too small.

In the second table we have eight birds, with their beaks much longer than in the rock-pigeon, both actually and proportionally with the size of body, and their feet are in an equally marked manner longer, namely, in proportion, on an average by .29 of an inch. I should here state that in Table 5.I. there are a few partial exceptions to the beak being proportionally shorter than in the rock-pigeon: thus the beak of the English Frill-back is just perceptibly longer, and that of the Bussorah Carrier of the same length or slightly longer, than in the rock-pigeon. The beaks of Spots, Swallows, and Laughers are only a very little shorter, or of the same proportional length, but slenderer. Nevertheless, these two tables, taken conjointly, indicate pretty plainly some kind of correlation between the length of the beak and the size of the feet. Breeders of cattle and horses believe that there is an analogous connection between the length of the limbs and head; they assert that a race-horse with the head of a dray-horse, or a grey-hound with the head of a bulldog, would be a monstrous production.

Charles Darwin

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