To sum up: we may confidently admit that the length of the sternum, and frequently the prominence of its crest, the length of the scapula and furculum, have all been reduced in size in comparison with the same parts in the rock-pigeon. And I presume that this may be attributed to disuse or lessened exercise. The wings, as measured from the ends of the radii, have likewise been generally reduced in length; but, owing to the increased growth of the wing-feathers, the wings, from tip to tip, are commonly longer than in the rock-pigeon. The feet, as well as the tarsi conjointly with the middle toe, have likewise in most cases become reduced; and this it is probable has been caused by their lessened use; but the existence of some sort of correlation between the feet and beak is shown more plainly than the effects of disuse. We have also some faint indication of a similar correlation between the main bones of the wing and the beak.


The beak, together with the bones of the face, differ remarkably in length, breadth, shape, and curvature. The skull differs in shape, and greatly in the angle formed by the union of the pre-maxillary, nasal, and maxillo- jugal bones. The curvature of the lower jaw and the reflection of its upper margin, as well as the gape of the mouth, differ in a highly remarkable manner. The tongue varies much in length, both independently and in correlation with the length of the beak. The development of the naked, wattled skin over the nostrils and round the eyes varies in an extreme degree. The eyelids and the external orifices of the nostrils vary in length, and are to a certain extent correlated with the degree of development of the wattle. The size and form of the oesophagus and crop, and their capacity for inflation, differ immensely. The length of the neck varies. With the varying shape of the body, the breadth and number of the ribs, the presence of processes, the number of the sacral vertebrae, and the length of the sternum, all vary. The number and size of the coccygeal vertebrae vary, apparently in correlation with the increased size of the tail. The size and shape of the perforations in the sternum, and the size and divergence of the arms of the furculum, differ. The oil-gland varies in development, and is sometimes quite aborted. The direction and length of certain feathers have been much modified, as in the hood of the Jacobin and the frill of the Turbit. The wing and tail-feathers generally vary in length together, but sometimes independently of each other and of the size of the body. The number and position of the tail-feather vary to an unparalleled degree. The primary and secondary wing-feathers occasionally vary in number, apparently in correlation with the length of the wing. The length of the leg and the size of the feet, and, in connection with the latter, the number of the scutellae, all vary. A web of skin sometimes connects the bases of the two inner toes, and almost invariably the two outer toes when the feet are feathered.

The size of the body differs greatly: a Runt has been known to weigh more than five times as much as a Short-faced Tumbler. The eggs differ in size and shape. According to Parmentier (5/40. Temminck 'Hist. Nat. Gen. des Pigeons et des Gallinaces' tome 1 1813 page 170.), some races use much straw in building their nests, and others use little; but I cannot hear of any recent corroboration of this statement. The length of time required for hatching the eggs is uniform in all the breeds. The period at which the characteristic plumage of some breeds is acquired, and at which certain changes of colour supervene, differs. The degree to which the young birds are clothed with down when first hatched is different, and is correlated in a singular manner with the colour of the plumage. The manner of flight, and certain inherited movements, such as clapping the wings, tumbling either in the air or on the ground, and the manner of courting the female, present the most singular differences.

Charles Darwin

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