They are heavy, massive birds, with shorter necks, legs, and beaks than in the foregoing races. The skin over the nostrils is swollen, but not carunculated; the naked skin round the eyes is not very wide, and only slightly carunculated; and I have seen a fine so-called Spanish Runt with hardly any naked skin round the eyes. Of the two varieties to be seen in England, one, which is the rarer, has very long wings and tail, and agrees pretty closely with the last sub-race; the other, with shorter wings and tail, is apparently the Pigeon romain ordinaire of Boitard and Corbie. These Runts are apt to tremble like Fantails. They are bad flyers. A few years ago Mr. Gulliver (5/11. 'Poultry Chronicle' volume 2 page 573.) exhibited a Runt which weighed 1 pound 14 ounces; and, as I am informed by Mr. Tegetmeier, two Runts from the south of France were lately exhibited at the Crystal Palace, each of which weighed 2 pounds 2 1/2 ounces. A very fine rock-pigeon from the Shetland Islands weighed only 14 1/2 ounces.]


[In Aldrovandi's work published in 1600 there is a coarse woodcut of a great Italian pigeon, with an elevated tail, short legs, massive body, and with the beak short and thick. I had imagined that this latter character so abnormal in the group, was merely a false representation from bad drawing; but Moore, in his work published in 1735, says that he possessed a Leghorn Runt of which "the beak was very short for so large a bird." In other respects Moore's bird resembled the first sub-race or Scanderoon, for it had a long bowed neck, long legs, short beak, and elevated tail, and not much wattle about the head. So that Aldrovandi's and Moore's birds must have formed distinct varieties, both of which seem to be now extinct in Europe. Sir W. Elliot, however, informs me that he has seen in Madras a short-beaked Runt imported from Cairo.]


[Skins of these handsome chequered birds were sent me from Madras by Sir W. Elliot. They are rather larger than the largest rock-pigeon, with longer and more massive beaks. The skin over the nostrils is rather full and very slightly carunculated, and they have some naked skin round the eyes; feet large. This breed is intermediate between the rock-pigeon and a very poor variety of Runt or Carrier.

From these several descriptions we see that with Runts, as with Carriers, we have a fine gradation from the rock-pigeon (with the Tronfo diverging as a distinct branch) to our largest and most massive Runts. But the chain of affinities, and many points of resemblance, between Runts and carriers, make me believe that these two races have not descended by independent lines from the rock-pigeon, but from some common parent, as represented in the Table, which had already acquired a moderately long beak with slightly swollen skin over the nostrils, and with some slightly carunculated naked skin round the eyes.]



Beak short, broad, deep; naked skin round the eyes, broad and carunculated; skin over nostrils slightly swollen.

[Misled by the extraordinary shortness and form of the beak, I did not at first perceive the near affinity of this Race to that of Carriers until the fact was pointed out to me by Mr. Brent. Subsequently, after examining the Bussorah Carrier, I saw that no very great amount of modification would be requisite to convert it into a Barb. This view of the affinity of Barbs to Carriers is supported by the analogical difference between the short and long-beaked Runts; and still more strongly by the fact, that, young Barbs and Dragons, within 24 hours after being hatched, resemble each other much more closely than do young pigeons of other and equally distinct breeds. At this early age, the length of beak, the swollen skin over the rather open nostrils, the gape of the mouth, and the size of the feet, are the same in both; although these parts afterwards become widely different.

Charles Darwin

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