The teeth in neither jaw present any difference, except that the small incisors, beneath the large ones, are proportionately a little longer. The molar teeth have increased in size proportionately with the increased width of the skull, measured across the zygomatic arch, and not proportionally with its increased length. The inner line of the sockets of the molar teeth in the upper jaw of the wild rabbit forms a perfectly straight line; but in some of the largest skulls of the lop-eared this line was plainly bowed inwards. In one specimen there was an additional molar tooth on each side of the upper jaw, between the molars and premolars; but these two teeth did not correspond in size; and as no rodent has seven molars, this is merely a monstrosity, though a curious one.

The five other skulls of common domestic rabbits, some of which approach in size the above-described largest skulls, whilst the others exceed but little those of the wild rabbit, are only worth notice as presenting a perfect gradation in all the above-specified differences between the skulls of the largest lop-eared and wild rabbits. In all, however, the supra- orbital plates are rather larger, and in all the auditory meatus is larger, in conformity with the increased size of the external ears, than in the wild rabbit. The lower notch in the occipital foramen in some was not so deep as in the wild rabbit, but in all five skulls the upper notch was well developed.

The skull of the Angora rabbit, like the latter five skulls, is intermediate in general proportions, and in most other characters, between those of the largest lop-eared and wild rabbits. It presents only one singular character: though considerably longer than the skull of the wild rabbit, the breadth measured within the posterior supra-orbital fissures is nearly a third less than in the wild. The skulls of the silver-grey, and chinchilla and Himalayan rabbits are more elongated than in the wild, with broader supra-orbital plates, but differ little in any other respect, excepting that the upper and lower notches of the occipital foramen are not so deep or so well developed. The skull of the Moscow rabbit scarcely differs at all from that of the wild rabbit. In the Porto Santo feral rabbits the supra-orbital plates are generally narrower and more pointed than in our wild rabbits.

As some of the largest lop-eared rabbits of which I prepared skeletons were coloured almost like hares, and as these latter animals and rabbits have, as it is affirmed, been recently crossed in France, it might be thought that some of the above-described characters had been derived from a cross at a remote period with the hare. Consequently I examined skulls of the hare, but no light could thus be thrown on the peculiarities of the skulls of the larger rabbits. It is, however, an interesting fact, as illustrating the law that varieties of one species often assume the characters of other species of the same genus, that I found, on comparing the skulls of ten species of hares in the British Museum, that they differed from each other chiefly in the very same points in which domestic rabbits vary,--namely, in general proportions, in the form and size of the supra-orbital plates, in the form of the free end of the malar bone, and in the line of suture separating the occipital and frontal bones. Moreover two eminently variable characters in the domestic rabbit, namely, the outline of the occipital foramen and the shape of the "raised platform" of the occiput, were likewise variable in two instances in the same species of hare.


The number is uniform in all the skeletons which I have examined, with two exceptions, namely, in one of the small feral Porto Santo rabbits and in one of the largest lop-eared kinds; both of these had as usual seven cervical, twelve dorsal with ribs, but, instead of seven lumbar, both had eight lumbar vertebrae. This is remarkable, as Gervais gives seven as the number for the whole genus Lepus. The caudal vertebrae apparently differ by two or three, but I did not attend to them, and they are difficult to count with certainty.

Charles Darwin

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