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THE LIBRARY

OF

THE UNIVERSITY
OF CALIFORNIA

PRESENTED BY

PROF. CHARLES A. KOFOID AND
MRS. PRUDENCE W. KOFOID



\' t>

}!2



MOSTLY MAMMALS




From a drawing by J. Wolf.}

HEAD AND FORE-LIMBS OF THE AYE-AYE OF MADAGASCAR.
Showing the attenuated middle finger.



[Frontispiece,



MOSTLY MAMMALS



<



Zoological Essays



BY

R. LYDEKKER



WITH SIXTEEN
FULL-PA GE ILL USTRA TIONS

BY

THE DUCHESS OF BEDFORD, LORD DELAMERE

THE HON. WALTER ROTHSCHILD

J. WOLF, AND OTHERS



NEW YORK

DODD MEAD & COMPANY

LONDON

HUTCHINSON & CO.
1903



L<3






PREFACE



r I ^HE whole of the articles collected in this
-L volume have previously appeared in period-
ical literature; the great majority in Knowledge,
but others in Nature, the Field, and the Asian.
To the editors of these journals the Author herewith
returns his best thanks for the kind permission
to reproduce the articles in their present form ;
special thanks being due to Messrs. Witherby,
the publishers of Knowledge, for the loan of some
of the original illustrations.

The importance of " nature study," now coming
so much to the fore, is strongly insisted upon in
several of the articles.

In a few instances two or more articles have
been combined, but for the most part they are re-
produced as much as possible in their original form,
with such alterations as have been found necessary
in order to bring them up to date, and with a



03GC665



Ll



vi PREFACE

few omissions to avoid unnecessary repetition. A
certain amount of repetition will, indeed, still be
found to exist, as somewhat similar ground is, in
certain instances, traversed in the course of two
separate articles. To have avoided this, would
have entailed practically re-writing some, or the
total omission of others ; and it was consequently
decided to print the entire series almost as it
stood.

HARPENDEN LODGE, HERTS,
April 5//fc, 1903.



CONTENTS



PART I

PAGE;

ANIMALS EXTERMINATED DURING THE NINETEENTH CENTURY I

THE COLORATION OF LARGE ANIMALS . , . 8.

SPOTS AND STRIPES IN MAMMALS ... .27

THE DOMESTICATION OF WILD ANIMALS . . 39

THE ORIGIN OF SOME DOMESTICATED ANIMALS , ., ,.. . . 48

HOW ARCTIC ANIMALS TURN WHITE . . 58

A LAND OF SKELETONS ... .69

SOME EXTINCT ARGENTINE MAMMALS . , .. . 80

CELEBES : A PROBLEM IN DISTRIBUTION . . Io8

A DROWNED CONTINENT . .II?

DESERTS AND THEIR INHABITANTS . .12$

AFRICA AND ITS ANIMALS ... .135

MONKEY HAND-PRINTS ... .145

LIVING MILLSTONES 155



PART II

AN INVISIBLE MONKEY . . . 167

SOME QUEER-NOSED MONKEYS . .171

A REMARKABLE MAMMAL . . 179

THE PEDIGREE OF THE CAT ; . . . l88

THE PEDIGREE OF THE DOG , . -197

vii



viii CONTENTS



PAGE



TWO FASHIONABLE FURS 2 C>7

THE SEA-OTTER AND ITS EXTERMINATION . . . .217

A GIANT AMONG SEALS 325

THE FLYING-SQUIRRELS OF ASIA AND AFRICA . . . .235

THE BEAVER IN NORWAY 244

THE EXTINCT QUAGGA 352

ANCIENT AND MODERN HIPPOPOTAMUSES 261

THE DEER OF THE PEKING PARKS .... 2 ;i

FOUR-HORNED SHEEP . . 2 g o

MUSK-OXEN IN ENGLAND . . , . . . . 2 8;

THE WILD OX OF EUROPE . , , . . . . . 293

THE SMALLEST WILD CATTLE , .303

ARMOUR-CLAD WHALES '. , . . . . . 308

SLOTHS AND THEIR HAIR . . . . . . 314

BLIND CAVE- ANIMALS . ... . ' . . . .322

GIANT LAND-TORTOISES . / . . . . . .331

SOME STRANGE NURSING HABITS . ... ." .341

THE COLOURS OF COWRIES. . . .... . 351

BREEDING HABITS OF FROGS AND TOADS . . . . .361

SCORPIONS AND THEIR ANTIQUITY . . . . . . 368

.... . , . . . . . .376



LIST OF ILLUSTRATIONS



HEAD AND FORE-LIMBS OF THE AYE-AYE OF MADAGASCAR. Frontispiece

From a Drawing by J. IVolf.

EAST AFRICAN GIRAFFES IN COVERT. . . . To face page 16

From a Photograph by Lord Delamere.

ARCTIC FOXES MM 66

From Photographs by the Scholastic Photographic Agency.

AFRICAN ELEPHANTS .... . . . v ti ^o

From a Photograph by Lord Delamere.

MONKEY HAND-PRINTS ......,, ,, 146

WHITE-TAILED GUEREZA . . " . . . . ,, 168

MALE PROBOSCIS MONKEY . . , . . M I72

ORANGE SNUB-NOSED MONKEY ^4

AN AFRICAN SCALE-TAIL IN FLIGHT n 236

THE WOOLLY FLYING-SQUIRREL OF ASTOR AND GILGIT ,, 23$

A COLONY OF BEAVERS 248

A PEKING STAG WITH THE ANTLERS IN VELVET . 272

Front a Photograph by the Duchess of Bedford.

PERE DAVID'S MI-LOU DEER .... 274

From a Photograph by the Duchess of Bedford.

YOUNG BULL MusK-Ox WITH THE HORNS ABOUT

HALF GROWN 290

From a Photograph by the Duchess of Bedford.

MALE AND FEMALE ANOA, OR DWARF BUFFALO . 304

From a Photograph by the Duchess of Bedford.

THE GIANT TORTOISE OF SOUTH ALDABRA ISLAND . 338

From a Photograph by S. G. Payne, by permission of
the Hon. Walter Rothschild.

ix



PART I



MOSTLY MAMMALS



ANIMALS EXTERMINATED DURING THE
NINETEENTH CENTURY

WHILE the century which has lately closed may fairly lay
claim to the gratitude of posterity on account of the mag-
nificent tale of zoological work accomplished during its
course, it is, on the other hand, undoubtedly open to the
charge of having permitted the total extermination of not
a few animals, and of having allowed the numbers of
others to be so reduced that their disappearance, at least
as truly wild creatures, can scarcely be delayed very many
years longer. Possibly, if not probably, the sweeping away
of the enormous herds of many species, like those of the
American bison, may have been an inevitable accompani-
ment of the march of civilisation and progress ; but there
is no sort of excuse to be made for the fact that in
certain instances naturalists failed to realise that species
were on the very verge of extermination, and that they
were actually allowed to disappear from the world without
being adequately represented in our museums. Nor is it
by any means certain that even the present generation is
altogether free from reproach in this matter, for although
it cannot be said that any species hovering on the verge
of extermination are absolutely unrepresented in collections,

i i



2 MOSTLY MAMMALS

yet whether, sufficient specimens of such species are
being preserved for our successors may be an open
question.

It is not my intention in this article to allude to the
hosts of animals whose numbers have been reduced in
such a wholesale manner during the century as to render
them in more or less immediate danger of impending
extermination, but to confine our attention in the main to
those on whom this fate has already fallen. And here it
may be mentioned with satisfaction that India enjoys a
remarkably good record in this respect, for, so far as we
are aware, it has not lost a single species of mammal,
bird, or reptile, either during the nineteenth century or
within the period of definite history. It is true that the
numbers and range of the Indian lion have been sadly
curtailed during the last fifty years, and that if steps are
not promptly taken for its protection that animal may ere
long disappear from the Indian fauna. But, at any rate,
it has not done so at present ; and even were it ex-
terminated in that country, this would not mean the
extinction of a species, and possibly not even of a local
race, since it is not improbable that the Persian represen-
tative of the lion (which is still abundant) may not be
distinguishable from the Indian animal. Of large animals
peculiar to India, perhaps the great Indian rhinoceros is the
one that requires most careful watching in order that its
numbers and its range may not be unduly reduced before
it is too late to take adequate measures for its protection.

We have said that the century is responsible for the
extinction of no inconsiderable number of the world's
animals. But it must not for one moment be supposed
that, within the historic period, no such exterminations by
human agency had taken place in previous centuries. We



EXTERMINATED ANIMALS 3

have to go back so far as the year 1615 for the last evidence
of the existence, in a living state, of the great flightless
rail (Aphanapteryx) of Mauritius and Rodriguez ; while the
journal of .the mate of the Berkeley Castle, in 1681, is the
last record of the dodo being seen alive. Again, the tall
and flightless solitaire of Rodriguez is not definitely known
to have been met with by Europeans after 1691, although
there is some evidence to indicate that it may have lingered
on in the more unfrequented portions of the island till as
late as 1761. Of the extinct geant, or Mauritian coot
(Leguatici), we have no evidence of its existence subse-
quent to 1695 ; while our last record of the crested parrot
(Lophopsittacus) is as far back as 1601. The great northern
sea-cow (Rhytina gt'gas), which was only discovered on the
islands of the Bering Sea in the year 1741, had entirely
ceased to exist by about 1767. Moreover, the giant tortoise
of Reunion appears to have become extinct in its native
island previous to the dawn of the nineteenth century,
as was probably the case with some of the other species
formerly inhabiting the islands of the Indian Ocean.*

Neither can the nineteenth century be held responsible
for the extermination of the South African blaauwbok
(Hippotragus leucophaeus), a smaller relative of the roan
antelope, since the last known example is believed to have
been killed in or about the year 1799. It had always a
curiously restricted habitat, being confined to a small area
in the Swellendam district.

On the other hand, the great auk is a bird whose loss
we owe to the carelessness of the naturalists of the middle
of the nineteenth century, for there is little doubt that if
protective measures had been taken in time, it might have
been alive at the present day. From the American side
* See the article in the sequel on "Giant Land-Tortoises.



4 MOSTLY MAMMALS

of the Atlantic it probably disappeared somewhere about
the year 1840; while the summer of 1844 witnessed the
destruction of the last European pair of this remarkable
bird, the last British representative of the species having
been hunted to death in the neighbourhood of Waterford
Harbour ten years previously.

One of the most sad storiesof extermination, and that,
too, at a comparatively recent date, is revealed in the case
of the South African quagga. Since a full account of the
species is given in a later article, it will suffice to state here
that in Cape Colony the extermination apparently took
place about the year 1865, although the species may have
survived a few years longer in the Orange River Colony,
which was the last stronghold of the species.

Mention has already been made of the extermination of
the giant land-tortoise of Reunion during the eighteenth
century; and in the early part of its successor four other
species became extinct in the neighbouring islands of the
Mascarene group namely, Testudo indica, T. triserrata, and
T. inepta in Mauritius, and T. vosmaeri in Rodriguez. It
has likewise been considered probable that the thin-shelled
tortoise (T. abingdoni) of Abingdon Island, in the Galapagos
group, is also no longer existing, although it was certainly
alive as recently as 1875.

Of birds that have disappeared during the century, in
addition to the great auk, reference may first be made to
the black emeu (Dromaeus ater) of Kangaroo Island, South
Australia. When this island was explored in 1803 by a
French expedition, these birds were abundant, and three
were sent home to Paris, where a pair lived till 1822. On
their death, the skin of one and the skeleton of the other
were mounted for exhibition in the Paris Museum, where
they still remain. Of the third specimen no record was



EXTERMINATED ANIMALS 5

obtainable till 1900, when its skeleton was discovered by
Prof. Giglioli in the museum at Florence. These three
priceless specimens are the only examples of a species
which became extinct in the native state previous to the
death of the Paris pair, and before it was even known to
be different from the larger emeu of the mainland. For
it appears that some years after the visit of the French
expedition (to which Peron was naturalist) to Kangaroo
Island, a settler squatted there and forthwith set to work
to make a clean sweep of the emeus and kangaroos a
task in which he was only too successful.

Before the middle of the century another large bird
appears to have made its final exit from this world. When
Steller discovered the northern sea-cow in the islands of
Bering Sea, he also brought to the notice of science a
new species of cormorant (Phalacrocorax perspicillatus),
which was especially interesting on account of being the
largest representative of its kind, and likewise by the bare
white rings round its eyes and the brilliant lustre of its
green and purple plumage. Stupid and sluggish in dis-
position, Pallas's cormorant, as the species is commonly
called, appears to have been last seen alive about the year
1839, when Captain Belcher, of H.M.S. Sulphur, was pre-
sented with a specimen by the Governor of Sitka, who also
forwarded other examples to St. Petersburg. Captain
Belcher's specimen is preserved in the British Museum,
and three other skins are known to be in existence
elsewhere.

The great white water-hen (Notornis albus), formerly
inhabiting Lord Howe and Norfolk Islands, must be added
to the defunct list. And the same is the case with the
Tahiti white-winged sandpiper, or rail (Hypotoenidia pacified),
which in Captain Cook's time was abundant in the island



6 MOSTLY MAMMALS

from which it takes its name, as well as in the neighbouring
Eimeo. The New Zealand quail (Coturnix novae-zealandiae)
is likewise entered in the British Museum as extinct. The
beautiful "Pigeon hollondais" so called from its plumage
presenting the Dutch colours, and technically known as
Alectoroenas nitidissima, is a Mauritian species whose ex-
termination probably took place during the century. It
is known solely by three examples, one of which is pre-
served at Port Louis, the second in Paris, and the third
in Edinburgh.

Nor must we omit from our list two species of Kaka
parrot, one of which (Nestor productus) was a native of
Philip Island, while the home of the second (N. norfolcensis)
was the neighbouring Norfolk Island. A species of para-
quet (Palaeornis exsul}, peculiar to the island of Rodriguez,
is also believed to be exterminated.

Neither has the duck family escaped, for the well-known
pied duck (Camptolaemus labradorius), an ally of the eider
from the North Atlantic coast of America, appears in the
defaulters' list, the last known example having been killed
in 1852.

Passing on to Passerine birds, a notable loss is the hand-
some crested pied starling (Fregilupus varius), of Reunion,
believed to have become extinct about the middle of the
century. Of the few remaining examples of this striking
species, one is preserved in the British Museum. Another
species, exterminated within approximately the same period,
is the gorgeous black and gold mamo, or sicklebill (Drepanis
pacified) of Hawaii, whence it was first brought to Europe
by Captain Cook. As narrated in the " Birds of the Sand-
wich Islands," by Messrs. Scott Wilson and Evans, the
extermination of this beautiful species is to be attributed
to persecution for the sake of its yellow feathers, which



EXTERMINATED ANIMALS 7

were used for the cloaks of the native chiefs. About four
specimens are known to be preserved in museums.

Of birds that have been locally exterminated, such as
the burrowing petrel (Oestrelata haesitatd), known in the
Antilles as the diablotin, it is not our intention to speak
on this occasion. This article may accordingly be fitly
brought to a close by an extract from Prof. A. Newton's
" Dictionary of Birds," referring to two instances where
species may have perished within the century without
having ever come definitely under the notice of ornitho-
logists. After stating that one Ledru accompanied an
expedition dispatched by the French Government in 1796 to
the West Indies, the Professor proceeds to observe that
this explorer "gives a list of the birds he found in the
islands of St. Thomas and St. Croix. He enumerates
fourteen kinds of birds as having occurred to him then.
Of these there is now no trace of eight of the number ;
and, if he is to be believed, it must be supposed that
within fifty or sixty years of his having been assured
of their existence they have become extinct. ... If this
be not enough, we may cite the case of the French islands
of Guadeloupe and Martinique, in which, according to
M. Guyon, there were once found six species of Psittaci,
all now exterminated ; and it may possibly be that the
macaws, stated by Messrs. Gosse and March to have
formerly frequented certain parts of Jamaica, but not
apparently noticed there for many years, have fallen victims
to colonisation and its consequences."



THE COLORATION OF LARGE ANIMALS

To the more observant class of sportsmen the stay-at-home
naturalist is, of necessity, indebted for most of his infor-
mation with regard to the habits of large animals and
their adaptation to their inanimate environment. And it
must be acknowledged that, in the main, he has but little
cause of complaint as to the accuracy, fulness, and abund-
ance of the information thus supplied. One subject, and
that a very interesting and important one, in connection
with large animals in the field, seems, however, to have
attracted but a small share of attention on the part of
sportsmen and travellers, although it is obvious that what-
ever theories and conclusions the naturalist may draw
from the study of museum specimens must be put to the
test by observations in the field before they can be regarded
as of any definite and established value. I refer to the
connection between the different types of coloration of the
larger animals and their natural surroundings. Apart
from casual remarks with regard to the harmony existing
between the dappled coloration of a South African giraffe
and the splashes of light and shade in the mimosa groves
it inhabits, the resemblance presented by a tiger's stripes
to the dead grass of the surrounding jungle, and such-like,
I can recall scarcely a single observation recorded by
sportsmen or travellers which is of any real scientific value
in connection with the subject in question. One important



THE COLORATION OF LARGE ANIMALS 9

exception namely, the observation made several years ago
that zebras standing on the open veldt in bright moonlight
are practically invisible at a short distance must, however,
be made to this sweeping assertion. And it is scarcely
too much to say that this important observation which
applies also, I believe, to a considerable extent to the
same animals in daylight has formed the starting-point
of modern ideas with regard to the purport and meaning
of many types of mammalian coloration.

Before alluding in detail to these ideas and theories, in
order to show what has been done and what remains to
be done in this line of research, it may be well to point
out that, with the aforesaid exception of the zebras, practi-
cally all our conclusions with regard to the purport of the
coloration of most of the larger mammals have been drawn
from the examination of stuffed specimens or skins, sup-
plemented by observations upon domesticated animals, or
species living in a semi-domesticated state in parks or
zoological gardens. With regard to foreign species kept
in parks or menageries, the observations are not, in most
cases, of any real value, on account of the circumstances
that the animals are living under changed conditions, and
not amid their natural surroundings. When skins are once
deposited in a museum the naturalist has no means what-
ever of ascertaining by actual experiment how their
coloration harmonises, or otherwise, with their natural
environment, all that he can do being to glean as much
as possible with regard to the latter from the accounts of
eye-witnesses, and to draw his conclusions accordingly.
Something might doubtless be done if it were permissible
to take the skins into the woods and open country and
test their conspicuousness or invisibility by experiment ;
but even such experiments cannot, in most cases at any



io MOSTLY MAMMALS

rate, be conducted with museum specimens ; and, if practi-
cable, they would, at the best, give us but a poor inkling
of the real truth. What we want are precise and accurate
observations made on living animals with regard to the
harmony between their colours and their surroundings ;
and such observations can only be made by sportsmen and
travellers, and more especially by the former. And to be
of any real value such observations must be made under
all conditions : in the case of a forest animal, for instance,
both when the creature is in the woods and when out
feeding in the open. Nor is this all, for it is necessary
to ascertain what portions of an animal's coloration are
adapted to render the body inconspicuous under all
circumstances such as the white of the under-parts to
counteract the effect of shadow and what portions have
been developed in correlation with the particular natural
surroundings of a species or group. Then, again, we have
to distinguish between protective coloration and what are
known as " recognition marks," such as the white under-
surface of the tail of a rabbit. Furthermore, there is the
distinction between both these types and the so-called
" warning colours," like the black and white of the skunks,
which are apparently intended to render their owners con-
spicuous, and thus protect them from attack, either on
account of some noxious emanation they possess or from
their fighting power. These warning colours are, however,
comparatively rare among mammals ; and observation is
mainly required in regard to protective coloration, especially
when some species of a group are brilliantly spotted or
striped, while others are uniformly clad in a less gorgeous
livery.

Speaking generally, and excepting certain unusually
bulky kinds, such as elephants, rhinoceroses, and hippo-



THE COLORATION OF LARGE ANIMALS n

potamuses, it is fairly safe to assert that among the
medium-sized and larger mammals the primitive type of
coloration took the form of either striping or spotting.
This is demonstrated by the many known instances there
are of the young being striped or spotted, while the adults
are more or less uniformly coloured. As well-known
examples of this kind we may cite tapirs, wild swine, many
kinds of deer, lions, and pumas. In many cases the sub-
stitution of a uniform dull livery for a spotted or striped
coat has evidently been in adaptation to an existence in
open or desert country. Instances of this kind are afforded
by the lion and the Cape eland, the latter of which has lost
the stripes characteristic of its more northern representa-
tive and of the kindred antelopes such as the kudus and
bushbucks.

The fact that the young of certain animals haunting
more or less arid districts, such as the lion, still retain
their spots, while others, like the eland, differ from their
relatives inhabiting more wooded country only by the loss
of their stripes, indicates that in these cases, at any rate,
the acquisition of a uniformly coloured tawny coat is a
comparatively recent event. Possibly an explanation of
this may be afforded by the history of deserts and semi-
deserts themselves. In contradistinction to the old idea
that they are ancient upraised sea-beds, it is now well
known that all desert areas have been formed very slowly
by the gradual decomposition of the rocks in countries
where there is no rain to wash away the debris. And it
seems by no means improbable owing to the enormous
lapse of time necessary for their formation, coupled, perhaps,
with a greater rainfall over most parts of the world in
earlier epochs that such tracts never existed until late
in the earth's history.



12 MOSTLY MAMMALS

Be this as it may, we have no sort of difficulty in
realising why many desert-haunting animals have ex-
changed a striped or spotted coat for one of which the
colour is manifestly in harmony with the natural surround-
ings. Our real difficulties occur in the cases where animals
have a very similar kind of habitat, but display a total
difference in their type of coloration. Why, for instance,
have many kinds of deer notably the Indian sambar and
its kindred discarded their original spotted dress for one
of a sombre brown or red, while others, like the chital
(at all seasons) and the fallow-deer (in summer), have
retained the primitive dress ? Or why, again, are the
African bushbucks and kudus, which are as much forest



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