Anson's Voyage. See Kerr and Porter 'Collection' volume 12 page 103.) The Falkland Islands, situated far south, with all the conditions of life as different as it is possible to conceive from those of the Ladrones, offer a more interesting case. Cattle have run wild there during eighty or ninety years; and in the southern districts the animals are mostly white, with their feet, or whole heads, or only their ears black; but my informant, Admiral Sulivan (3/56. See also Mr. Mackinnon's pamphlet on the Falkland Islands, page 24.), who long resided on these islands, does not believe that they are ever purely white. So that in these two archipelagos we see that the cattle tend to become white with coloured ears. In other parts of the Falkland Islands other colours prevail: near Port Pleasant brown is the common tint; round Mount Usborn, about half the animals in some of the herds were lead- or mouse-coloured, which elsewhere is an unusual tint. These latter cattle, though generally inhabiting high land, breed about a month earlier than the other cattle; and this circumstance would aid in keeping them distinct and in perpetuating a peculiar colour. It is worth recalling to mind that blue or lead-coloured marks have occasionally appeared on the white cattle of Chillingham. So plainly different were the colours of the wild herds in different parts of the Falkland Islands, that in hunting them, as Admiral Sulivan informs me, white spots in one district, and dark spots in another district, were always looked out for on the distant hills. In the intermediate districts, intermediate colours prevailed. Whatever the cause may be, this tendency in the wild cattle of the Falkland Islands, which are all descended from a few brought from La Plata, to break up into herds of three different colours, is an interesting fact.

Returning to the several British breeds, the conspicuous difference in general appearance between Shorthorns, Longhorns (now rarely seen), Herefords, Highland cattle, Alderneys, etc., must be familiar to every one. A part of this difference may be attributed to descent from primordially distinct species; but we may feel sure that there has been a considerable amount of variation. Even during the Neolithic period, the domestic cattle were to a certain extent variable. Within recent times most of the breeds have been modified by careful and methodical selection. How strongly the characters thus acquired are inherited, may be inferred from the prices realised by the improved breeds; even at the first sale of Colling's Shorthorns, eleven bulls reached an average of 214 pounds, and lately Shorthorn bulls have been sold for a thousand guineas, and have been exported to all quarters of the world.

Some constitutional differences may be here noticed. The Shorthorns arrive at maturity far earlier than the wilder breeds, such as those of Wales or the Highlands. This fact has been shown in an interesting manner by Mr. Simonds (3/57. 'The Age of the Ox, Sheep, Pig' etc. by Prof. James Simonds, published by order of the Royal Agricult. Soc.) who has given a table of the average period of their dentition, which proves that there is a difference of no less than six months in the appearance of the permanent incisors. The period of gestation, from observations made by Tessier on 1131 cows, varies to the extent of eighty-one days; and what is more interesting, M. Lefour affirms "that the period of gestation is longer in the large German cattle than in the smaller breeds." (3/58. 'Ann. Agricult. France' April 1837 as quoted in 'The Veterinary' volume 12 page 725. I quote Tessier's observations from 'Youatt on Cattle' page 527.) With respect to the period of conception, it seems certain that Alderney and Zetland cows often become pregnant earlier than other breeds. (3/59. 'The Veterinary' volume 8 page 681 and volume 10 page 268. Low 'Domest. Animals, etc.' page 297.) Lastly, as four fully developed mammae is a generic character in the genus Bos (3/60. Mr. Ogleby in 'Proc. Zoolog. Soc.' 1836 page 138, and 1840 page 4.

Charles Darwin

All Pages of This Book