(FIGURE 12. ATLAS VERTEBRAE, of natural size; inferior surface viewed obliquely. Upper figure, Wild Rabbit. Lower figure, Hare-coloured, large, Lop-eared Rabbit, a, supra-median, atlantoid process; b, infra-median process.)

In the first cervical vertebra, or atlas, the anterior margin of the neural arch varies a little in wild specimens, being either nearly smooth, or furnished with a small supra-median atlantoid process; I have figured a specimen with the largest process (a) which I have seen; but it will be observed how inferior this is in size and different in shape to that in a large lop-eared rabbit. In the latter, the infra-median process (b) is also proportionally much thicker and longer. The alae are a little squarer in outline.

(FIGURE 13. THIRD CERVICAL VERTEBRAE, of natural size, of: A. Wild Rabbit; B. Hare-coloured, large, Lop-eared Rabbit, a, a, inferior surface; b, b, anterior articular surfaces.)


In the wild rabbit (figure 13, A a) this vertebra, viewed on the inferior surface, has a transverse process, which is directed obliquely backwards, and consists of a single pointed bar; in the fourth vertebra this process is slightly forked in the middle. In the large lop-eared rabbits this process (B a) is forked in the third vertebra, as in the fourth of the wild rabbit. But the third cervical vertebrae of the wild and lop-eared (A b, B b) rabbits differ more conspicuously when their anterior articular surfaces are compared; for the extremities of the antero-dorsal processes in the wild rabbit are simply rounded, whilst in the lop-eared they are trifid, with a deep central pit. The canal for the spinal marrow in the lop-eared (B b) is more elongated in a transverse direction than in the wild rabbit; and the passages for the arteries are of a slightly different shape. These several differences in this vertebra seem to me well deserving attention.


Its neural spine varies in length in the wild rabbit; being sometimes very short, but generally more than half as long as that of the second dorsal; but I have seen it in two large lop-eared rabbits three-fourths of the length of that of the second dorsal vertebra.

(FIGURE 14. DORSAL VERTEBRAE, from sixth to tenth inclusive, of natural size, viewed laterally. A. Wild Rabbit. B. Large, Hare-coloured, so called Spanish Rabbit.)


In the wild rabbit the neural spine of the ninth vertebra is just perceptibly thicker than that of the eighth; and the neural spine of the tenth is plainly thicker and shorter than those of all the anterior vertebrae. In the large lop-eared rabbits the neural spines of the tenth, ninth, and eighth vertebrae, and even in a slight degree that of the seventh, are very much thicker, and of somewhat different shape, in comparison with those of the wild rabbit. So that this part of the vertebral column differs considerably in appearance from the same part in the wild rabbit, and closely resembles in an interesting manner these same vertebrae in some species of hares. In the Angora, Chinchilla, and Himalayan rabbits, the neural spines of the eighth and ninth vertebrae are in a slight degree thicker than in the wild. On the other hand, in one of the feral Porto Santo rabbits, which in most of its characters deviates from the common wild rabbit, in a direction exactly opposite to that assumed by the large lop-eared rabbits, the neural spines of the ninth and tenth vertebrae were not at all larger than those of the several anterior vertebra. In this same Porto Santo specimen there was no trace in the ninth vertebra of the anterior lateral processes (see figure 14), which are plainly developed in all British wild rabbits, and still more plainly developed in the large lop-eared rabbits. In a half-wild rabbit from Sandon Park (4/26. These rabbits have run wild for a considerable time in Sandon Park, and in other places in Staffordshire and Shropshire. They originated, as I have been informed by the gamekeeper, from variously-coloured domestic rabbits which had been turned out.

Charles Darwin

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