We have good evidence that our domesticated pigs belong to at least two specific types, S. scrofa and indicus. Now a widely extended analogy leads to the belief that if these several allied species, when first reclaimed, had been crossed, they would have exhibited, both in their first unions and in their hybrid offspring, some degree of sterility. Nevertheless, the several domesticated races descended from them are now all, as far as can be ascertained, perfectly fertile together. If this reasoning be trustworthy, and it is apparently sound, we must admit the Pallasian doctrine that long- continued domestication tends to eliminate that sterility which is natural to species when crossed in their aboriginal state.


Increased fertility from domestication, without any reference to crossing, may be here briefly considered. This subject bears indirectly on two or three points connected with the modification of organic beings. As Buffon long ago remarked (16/31. Quoted by Isid. Geoffroy St. Hilaire 'Hist. Naturelle Generale' tome 3 page 476. Since this MS. has been sent to press a full discussion on the present subject has appeared in Mr. Herbert Spencer's 'Principles of Biology' volume 2 1867 page 457 et seq.), domestic animals breed oftener in the year and produce more young at a birth than wild animals of the same species; they, also, sometimes breed at an earlier age. The case would hardly have deserved further notice, had not some authors lately attempted to show that fertility increases and decreases in an inverse ratio with the amount of food. This strange doctrine has apparently arisen from individual animals when supplied with an inordinate quantity of food, and from plants of many kinds when grown on excessively rich soil, as on a dunghill, becoming sterile: but to this latter point I shall have occasion presently to return. With hardly an exception, our domesticated animals, which have been long habituated to a regular and copious supply of food, without the labour of searching for it, are more fertile than the corresponding wild animals. It is notorious how frequently cats and dogs breed, and how many young they produce at a birth. The wild rabbit is said generally to breed four times yearly, and to produce each time at most six young; the tame rabbit breeds six or seven times yearly, producing each time from four to eleven young; and Mr. Harrison Weir tells me of a case of eighteen young having been produced at a birth, all of which survived. The ferret, though generally so closely confined, is more prolific than its supposed wild prototype. The wild sow is remarkably prolific; she often breeds twice in the year, and bears from four to eight and sometimes even twelve young; but the domestic sow regularly breeds twice a year, and would breed oftener if permitted; and a sow that produces less than eight at a birth "is worth little, and the sooner she is fattened for the butcher the better." The amount of food affects the fertility of the same individual: thus sheep, which on mountains never produce more than one lamb at a birth, when brought down to lowland pastures frequently bear twins. This difference apparently is not due to the cold of the higher land, for sheep and other domestic animals are said to be extremely prolific in Lapland. Hard living, also, retards the period at which animals conceive; for it has been found disadvantageous in the northern islands of Scotland to allow cows to bear calves before they are four years old. (16/32. For cats and dogs etc. see Bellingeri in 'Annal. des Sc. Nat.' 2nd series, Zoolog. tome 12 page 155. For ferrets Bechstein 'Naturgeschichte Deutschlands' b. 1 1801 s. 786, 795. For rabbits ditto s. 1123, 1131; and Bronn 'Geschichte der Natur.' b. 2 s. 99. For mountain sheep ditto s. 102. For the fertility of the wild sow, see Bechstein 'Naturgesch. Deutschlands' b. 1 1801 s. 534; for the domestic pig Sidney's edition of 'Youatt on the Pig' 1860 page 62. With respect to Lapland see Acerbi 'Travels to the North Cape' English translation volume 2 page 222. About the Highland cows see 'Hogg on Sheep' page 263.)

[Birds offer still better evidence of increased fertility from domestication: the hen of the wild Gallus bankiva lays from six to ten eggs, a number which would be thought nothing of with the domestic hen.

Charles Darwin

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