With respect to the primitive colour of the horse having been dun, Colonel Hamilton Smith (2/41. 'Nat. Library' volume 12 1841 pages 109, 156 to 163, 280, 281. Cream-colour, passing into Isabella (i.e. the colour of the dirty linen of Queen Isabella), seems to have been common in ancient times. See also Pallas's account of the wild horses of the East, who speaks of dun and brown as the prevalent colours. In the Icelandic sagas, which were committed to writing in the twelfth century, dun-coloured horses with a black spinal stripe are mentioned; see Dasent's translation volume 1 page 169.) has collected a large body of evidence showing that this tint was common in the East as far back as the time of Alexander, and that the wild horses of Western Asia and Eastern Europe now are, or recently were, of various shades of dun. It seems that not very long ago a wild breed of dun- coloured horses with a spinal stripe was preserved in the royal parks in Prussia. I hear from Hungary that the inhabitants of that country look at the duns with a spinal stripe as the aboriginal stock, and so it is in Norway. Dun-coloured ponies are not rare in the mountainous parts of Devonshire, Wales, and Scotland, where the aboriginal breed would have the best chance of being preserved. In South America in the time of Azara, when the horse had been feral for about 250 years, 90 out of 100 horses were "bai-chatains," and the remaining ten were "zains," that is brown; not more than one in 2000 being black. In North America the feral horses show a strong tendency to become roans of various shades; but in certain parts, as I hear from Dr. Canfield, they are mostly duns and striped. (2/42. Azara 'Quadrupedes du Paraguay' tome 2 page 307. In North America Catlin (volume 2 page 57) describes the wild horses, believed to have descended from the Spanish horses of Mexico, as of all colours, black, grey, roan, and roan pied with sorrel. F. Michaux 'Travels in North America' English translation page 235, describes two wild horses from Mexico as roan. In the Falkland Islands, where the horse has been feral only between 60 and 70 years, I was told that roans and iron-greys were the prevalent colours. These several facts show that horses do not soon revert to any uniform colour.)

In the following chapters on the Pigeon we shall see that a blue bird is occasionally produced by pure breeds of various colours and that when this occurs certain black marks invariably appear on the wings and tail; so again, when variously coloured breeds are crossed, blue birds with the same black marks are frequently produced. We shall further see that these facts are explained by, and afford strong evidence in favour of, the view that all the breeds are descended from the rock-pigeon, or Columba livia, which is thus coloured and marked. But the appearance of the stripes on the various breeds of the horse, when of a dun colour, does not afford nearly such good evidence of their descent from a single primitive stock as in the case of the pigeon: because no horse certainly wild is known as a standard of comparison; because the stripes when they appear are variable in character; because there is far from sufficient evidence that the crossing of distinct breeds produces stripes, and lastly, because all the species of the genus Equus have the spinal stripe, and several species have shoulder and leg stripes. Nevertheless the similarity in the most distinct breeds in their general range of colour, in their dappling, and in the occasional appearance, especially in duns, of leg-stripes and of double or triple shoulder-stripes, taken together, indicate the probability of the descent of all the existing races from a single, dun-coloured, more or less striped, primitive stock, to which our horses occasionally revert.


Four species of Asses, besides three zebras, have been described by naturalists. There is now little doubt that our domesticated animal is descended from the Equus taeniopus of Abyssinia. (2/43. Dr. Sclater in 'Proc.

Charles Darwin

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