George Vasey.

Delineations of the Ox Tribe: The Natural History of Bulls, Bisons, and Buffaloes. online

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[Illustration: THE SANGA OR GALLA OX OF ABYSSINIA, _v._ p. 120.]
















* * * * *








This Volume is inscribed,




The primary object of the present work, is to give as correct and
comprehensive a view of the animals composing the Ox Tribe, as the
present state of our knowledge will admit, accompanied by authentic
figures of all the known species and the more remarkable varieties.

Although this genus (comprising all those Ruminants called Buffaloes,
Bisons, and Oxen generally,) is as distinct and well characterised as
any other genus in the animal kingdom, yet the facts which are at
present known respecting the various species which compose it, are not
sufficiently numerous to enable the naturalist to divide them into
sub-genera. This is abundantly proved by the unsuccessful result of
those attempts which have already been made to arrange them into minor
groups. Nor can we wonder at this want of success, when we consider that
even many of the species usually regarded as distinct are by no means
clearly defined.

The second object, therefore, of this treatise, is (by bringing into
juxta-position all the most important facts concerning the various
individual specimens which have been described, and by adding several
other facts of importance which have not hitherto been noticed,) to
enable the naturalist to define, more correctly than has yet been done,
the peculiarities of each species.

A third object is to direct the attention of travellers more
particularly to this subject; in order that, by their exertions, our
information upon this class of animals may be rendered more complete.

A new and important feature in the present Monograph, is the
introduction of a Table of the Number of Vertebræ, carefully constructed
from an examination of the actual skeletons, by which will be seen at a
glance the principal osteological differences of species which have
hitherto been confounded with each other. A Table of the Periods of
Gestation is likewise added, which presents some equally interesting

Several of the descriptions have been verified by a reference to the
living animals, seven specimens of which are at present (1847) in the
Gardens of the Zoological Society, Regent's Park. The several Museums in
the Metropolis have likewise been consulted with advantage.

I am indebted to Judge FURNAM, of the United States, for some original
information respecting the American Bison; and also to the late Mr.
COLE, who was forty years park-keeper at Chillingham, for answers to
several questions which I proposed to him on the subject of the
Chillingham Cattle.

I beg to acknowledge my obligation to Mr. CATLIN for kindly allowing me,
not only to make extracts, but also to copy some of the outlines from
his 'Letters and Notes on the North American Indians,' a work which I do
not hesitate to pronounce one of the most curious and interesting which
the present century has produced, - whether we regard the graphic merits
of its literary or pictorial department.

To Professor OWEN and the Officers of the Royal College of Surgeons, to
the Officers of the Zoological Society, and to the Officers of the
Zoological Department of the British Museum, my sincere thanks are due
for the kindness and promptness with which every information has been
given, and every facility afforded to my inquiries and investigations.

With respect to the engraved figures, I have striven to produce correct
delineations of form and texture, rather than to make pretty pictures by
sacrificing truth and nature for the sake of ideal beauty and artistic

I cannot conclude this Preface without expressing my thanks to Messrs.
ADLARD for the first-rate style in which this volume has been printed;
particularly for the successful manner in which the impressions of the
engravings have been produced, superior, in general, to India-proof

_King Street, Camden Town;_
_May, 1851._



In addition to the critical remarks on the writings of others, on this
subject, which the reader will find in the following pages, I have
further to observe that, although Pennant and Buffon have held a very
high character, for many years, as scientific naturalists, the portion
of their works which treats of the _Genus Bos_, appears to have been the
result of the most careless and superficial observation. With the
exception of the facts and observations furnished by such men as
Daubenton and Pallas, Buffon's works are little more than flimsy
speculations. As to Pennant's history of the Ox Tribe, it is calculated
rather to bewilder than to inform; it is, in fact, an incoherent mass of
dubious statements, huddled together in a most inextricable confusion:
as a piece of Natural History it is absolutely worse than nothing.

Goldsmith, Bewick, and Bingley, three of our most popular writers on
Natural History, appear to have done little more than compile from
Pennant and Buffon, and consequently are but little deserving of credit.
These strictures apply exclusively to such portions of their works as
relate to the Ox Tribe.



Introduction 1

American Bison 21

Aurochs 40

Yak 45

Gyall 51

Gayal 57

Domestic Gayal 68

Jungly Gau 71

Buffalo 75

Italian Buffalo 76

Manilla Buffalo 81

Condore Buffalo 84

Cape Buffalo 86

Pegasse 95

Gaur 97

Arnee 105

Zamouse 112

Musk Ox 115

Galla Ox 120

Zebu, or Brahmin Bull 125

Backeley Ox 133

African Bull 137

Chillingham Cattle 140

Kyloe, or Highland Ox 150

Table of the Number of Vertebræ 152

Table of the Periods of Gestation 153

Note on the Skeleton of the American Bison 154


Free Martin 155

Short-nosed Ox 159

On the utility of the Ox Tribe to Mankind 160

Account of Alpine Cowherds
- Notice of Ranz des Vaches 164

Table of Habitat 168

- - Mode of Life 169

Indefinite Definitions of Col. H. Smith 170

Mr. Swainson's Transcendental Attempt at
Classification 176

On Species and Variety 181

Banteng (_Bos Bantiger_) 185

British Domestic Cattle 186

Influence of Colour in Breeding ib.

Influence of Male in Breeding 187

Generative Precocity ib.

Milk 188

Butter 189

Mr. Youatt's Philosophy of Rabies 190

Statistics 192


(_The Engravings not otherwise acknowledged are from original


1. Frontispiece. - The Sangu, or Abyssinian Ox i

2. Stomach of Manilla Buffalo 4

3. Gastro-duct (Oesophagean Canal), after Flourens 6

4. Stomach of a young Calf 12

5. Stomach of a full-grown Cow 13

6. Skull of Domestic Ox 17

7. Skeleton of Domestic Ox 20

8. American Bison 21

9. Young Female Bison 23

10. Wounded Bison 24

11. Indian shooting a Bison 29

12. Bison surrounded by Wolves 32

13. Bison Calf, after Cuvier 33

14. Skin Canoes of the Mandan Indians 36

15. Head of young Male Bison 39

16. Aurochs, or European Bison 40

17. Yak, from Asiatic Transactions 45

18. Yak, from Oriental Annual 49

19. Gyall (_Bos Frontalis_) 51

20. Head of Gyall 53

21. Gayal, from Asiatic Transactions 58

22. Head of Asseel Gayal 67

23. Domestic Gayal 68

24. Skull of Domestic Gayal 69

25. Occipital View of the same Skull ib.

26. Head of Domestic Gayal ib.

27. Jungly Gau, after Cuvier 71

28. Syrian Ox, anon. 74

29. Italian Buffalo - Brandt and Ratzeburg 76

30. Herefordshire Cow, after Howitt 80

31. Manilla Buffalo 81

32. Outlines of Buffaloes Backs 82

33. Head of Manilla Buffalo 83

34. Pulo Condore Buffalo 84

35. Short-horned Bull, after Howitt 85

36. Cape Buffalo 86

37. Young Cape Buffalo, after Col. Smith 90

38. Head of Cape Buffalo 94

39. Pegasse, from a Drawing in the Berlin Library 95

40. Horns of Cape Buffalo 96

41. Gaur, from Specimen in British Museum 97

42. Horns of Gaur, Edin. Phil. Trans. 103

43. Head of Gaur 104

44. Arnee, from Shaw's Zoology 105

45. Horns of Young Arnee, from 'The Bee' 107

46. Horns of Arnee, from Mus. Coll. Surg. 108

47. Horns of Arnee, from British Museum ib.

48. Arnee from Indian Painting 111

49. Zamouse, or Bush Cow 112

50. Head of Zamouse 114

51. Musk Ox 115

52. Foot of Musk Ox, Griff., Cuv. 117

53. Head of Musk Ox 119

54. Horns of Galla Ox, Mus. Coll. Surg. 123

55. Horns of Hungarian Ox, Brit. Mus. 124

56. Brahmin Bull, Harvey, Zool. Gar. 125

57. Zebu (var. beta), after Cuvier 128

58. Zebus (var. gamma) and Car, anon. 129

59. Zebu (var. delta), anon. 132

60. African Bull, Harvey 137

61. Eyes of African Bull, Harvey 139

62. Lateral Hoofs of African Bull, Harvey ib.

63. Dewlap of African Bull, Harvey 139

64. Chillingham Bull 140

65. Heads of Chillingham Cattle 148

66. Kyloe, or Highland Ox, Howitt 150

67. Free Martin, Hunter's Animal Economy 156

Skull of Domestic Ox, (repetition of fig. 6) 158

68. Skull of Short-nosed Ox of the Pampas 159

69. Outlines of Manilla Buffalo 174

70. Hungarian Ox, from British Museum 175

71. Banteng, from a Specimen in Brit. Mus. 185

72. Alderney Cow, after Howitt 189


Ruminantia is the term used by naturalists to designate those
mammiferous quadrupeds which chew the cud; or, in other words, which
swallow their food, in the first instance, with a very slight
mastication, and afterwards regurgitate it, in order that it may undergo
a second and more complete mastication: this second operation is called
ruminating, or chewing the cud. The order of animals which possess this
peculiarity, is divided into nine groups or genera, namely: -


The last named forms the subject of the following pages, and is called,
in zoological language, the _Genus Bos_, in popular language, the OX

One of the most interesting occupations which the wide field of Zoology
offers to the naturalist, is the investigation of those remarkable
adaptations of organs to functions, and of these again to the
necessities and well-being of the entire animal. Nor does it in the
least diminish our interest in the investigation of individual
adaptations, or our admiration on becoming acquainted with them, that we
know, _à priori_, this universal truth, that all the constituents of
every organised body, be that organisation what it may, are invariably
adapted, in the most perfect manner, to each other, and to the whole.

It is by a knowledge of this exact harmony in the animal economy, that
the comparative anatomist can determine, with almost unerring precision,
the genus, or even species of an animal, by an examination of any
important part of its organisation, as the teeth, stomach, bones, or
extremities. In some cases, a single bone, or even the fragment of a
bone, is sufficient to convey an idea of the entire animal to which it

In illustration of this: - if the viscera of an animal are so organised
as only to be fitted for the digestion of recent flesh, we find that the
jaws are so contracted as to fit them for devouring prey; the claws for
seizing and tearing it to pieces; the teeth for cutting and dividing its
flesh; the entire system of the limbs, or organs of motion, for pursuing
and overtaking it; and the organs of sense for discovering it at a
distance. Moreover, the brain of the animal is also endowed with
instincts sufficient for concealing itself, and for laying plans to
catch its necessary prey.

Again, we are well aware that all _hoofed_ animals must necessarily be
herbivorous, or vegetable feeders, because they are possessed of no
means of seizing prey. It is also evident, having no other use for their
fore-legs than to support their bodies, that they have no occasion for
a shoulder so vigorously organised as that of carnivorous animals; owing
to which they have no clavicles, and their shoulder-blades are
proportionally narrow. Having also no occasion to turn their forearms,
their radius is joined by ossification to the ulna, or is at least
articulated by gynglymus with the humerus. Their food being entirely
herbaceous, requires teeth with flat surfaces, on purpose to bruise the
seeds and plants on which they feed. For this purpose, also, these
surfaces require to be unequal, and are, consequently, composed of
alternate perpendicular layers of enamel and softer bone. Teeth of this
structure necessarily require horizontal motions to enable them to
triturate, or grind down the herbaceous food; and accordingly the
condyles of the jaw could not be formed into such confined joints as in
the carnivorous animals, but must have a flattened form, correspondent
to sockets in the temporal bones. The depressions, also, of the temporal
bones, having smaller muscles to contain, are narrower and not so deep;
and so on, throughout the whole organisation.

The digestive system of the ruminantia is more complicated in structure
than that of any other class of animals; and, owing to this complexity,
and the consequent difficulty of investigating it, its nature and
functions have been less perfectly understood.

The stomach of the Manilla Buffalo, which will serve as an example of
all the other species, is divided into four cavities or ventricles,
which are usually (but improperly) considered as four distinct

The following figure represents the form, relative size, and position of
these four cavities when detached from the animal, and fully inflated.

[Illustration: _a._ First cavity, called the paunch.

_b._ Second ditto, the honeycomb bag.

_c._ Third ditto, the many-plies.

_d._ Fourth ditto, the reed, or rennet.

_e._ A portion of the oesophagus, showing its connection with the

_f._ The pylorus, or opening into the intestines.]

The interior of those cavities present some remarkable differences in
point of structure, which, in the present work, can only be alluded to
in a very general manner. For a particular account of the internal
anatomy of these complicated organs, the reader is referred to the
interesting work on 'Cattle,' by W. Youatt.

The paunch is lined with a thick membrane, presenting numerous prominent
and hard papillæ. The inner surface of the second cavity is very
artificially divided into angular cells, giving it somewhat the
appearance of honeycomb, whence its name "honeycomb-bag." The lining
membrane of the third cavity forms numerous deep folds, lying upon each
other like the leaves of a book, and beset with small hard tubercles.
These folds vary in breadth in a regular alternate order, a narrow fold
being placed between each of the broader ones. The fourth cavity is
lined with a velvety mucous membrane disposed in longitudinal folds. It
is this part of the stomach that furnishes the gastric juice, and,
consequently, it is in this cavity that the proper digestion of the food
takes place; it is here, also, that the milk taken by the calf is
coagulated. The reed or fourth cavity of the calf's stomach retains its
power of coagulating milk even after it has been taken from the animal.
We have a familiar instance of its operation in the formation of curds
and whey.

The first and second cavities (_a_ and _b_) are placed parallel (or on a
level) with each other; and the oesophagus (_e_) opens, almost
equally, into them both. On each side of the termination of the
oesophagus there is a muscular ridge projecting, so that the two
together form a sort of groove or channel, which opens almost equally
into the second and third cavities (_b_ and _c_).

[As there has not been, as far as I am aware, any appropriate name given
to this very remarkable part of the stomach of ruminants, I here take
the liberty of suggesting the term _Gastro-duct_, by which epithet this
muscular channel will be designated in the following pages.]

[Illustration: View of Gastro-duct, after Flourens.

_a._ A portion of the oesophagus cut open, showing the internal folds
of the mucous membrane.

_b._ The opening of the oesophagus into the paunch.

_c, c._ The gastro-duct.

_d, d._ Muscular fibres passing completely round the edge of the
gastro-duct, and forming a sort of sphincter.

_e._ The opening from the gastro-duct into the third cavity.]

All these parts, namely, the oesophagus, the gastro-duct, and the
first three cavities, not only communicate with each other, but they
communicate by one common point, and that point is the gastro-duct. At
the extremity of the third cavity, opposite to that at which the
gastro-duct enters it, is an aperture which communicates immediately
with the fourth cavity (_d_).

Such is a very brief description of the complicated stomach of the Ox
Tribe. In what manner the food passes through this curious arrangement
of cavities is a problem which has engaged the attention of naturalists
from a very early period. A host of great men might be cited who have
failed to solve it. The French physiologist, M. Flourens, by his recent
experiments, has done more than any or all of his predecessors to give
clearness and precision to this intricate subject.

The following is an abstract of the most important of his experiments: -

A sheep having been fed on fresh trefoil, was killed and opened
immediately, - that is, before the process of rumination had commenced.
He (M. Flourens) found the greatest part of this herb (easily recognised
by its leaves, which were still almost entire,) in the paunch; but he
also found a certain portion (_une partie notable_) of those leaves (in
the same unmasticated state) in the honeycomb. In the other two
cavities, (the many-plies and the reed,) there was absolutely none.

M. Flourens repeated this experiment a great many times, with herbs of
various kinds, and the result was constantly the same: from which it
appears, that herbaceous food, on its first deglutition, enters into the
honeycomb, as well as into the paunch; the proportion, however, being
considerably greater into the paunch than into the honeycomb. It appears
equally certain that, in the first swallowing, this kind of food _only_
enters into the first two cavities, and never passes into the many-plies
or the reed.

Having ascertained this fact with respect to _herbs_, he instituted a
similar series of experiments, in which the animals were fed upon
various kinds of _grain_, - rye, barley, wheat, oats, &c. The animals
were killed and examined, as in the former experiments, immediately
after being fed. He found the greater part of the grain unmasticated
(_tout entier_) in the paunch; but, as in the case of the herbs, he also
found a certain portion, in the same unmasticated state, in the
honeycomb. Neither the many-plies nor the reed contained a single grain.
He repeated these experiments many times, and always with the same

He then tried the effect of carrots cut into pieces, from half an inch
to an inch in length; and in order that the animals might not chew them,
he passed them into the pharynx by means of a tube. In one of these
sheep he found all the morsels in the paunch; but, in the other two,
some of the morsels were in the honeycomb, and some in the paunch. In
all the three cases, there was none either in the many-plies or in the

He then proceeded to ascertain the effect of substances previously
comminuted. He caused a certain quantity of carrots to be reduced to a
kind of mash, with which he fed two sheep, and opened them immediately
afterwards. He found the greatest part of this mash in the paunch and in
the honeycomb; but he likewise found a certain portion in the many-plies
and in the reed.

His next experiments were made upon plain fluids. It is the opinion of
the generality of authors on this subject that fluids pass immediately

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Online LibraryGeorge VaseyDelineations of the Ox Tribe: The Natural History of Bulls, Bisons, and Buffaloes. → online text (page 1 of 11)