CHAPTER II - HORSES AND ASSES  pp. 49-64

HORSES AND ASSES

By Charles Darwin

Image View Previous Chapter Next Chapter



The history of the Horse is lost in antiquity. Remains of this animal in a domesticated condition have been found in the Swiss lake-dwellings, belonging to the latter part of the Stone period. At the present time the number of breeds is great, as may be seen by consulting any treatise on the Horse. Looking only to the native ponies of Great Britain, those of the Shetland Isles, Wales, the New Forest, and Devonshire are distinguishable; and so it is with each separate island in the great Malay archipelago. Some of the breeds present great differences in size, shape of ears, length of mane, proportions of the body, form of the withers and hind quarters, and especially in the head. Compare the race-horse, dray-horse, and a Shetland pony in size, configuration, and disposition; and see how much greater the difference is than between the six or seven other living species of the genus Equus.

Of individual variations not known to characterise particular breeds, and not great or injurious enough to be called monstrosities, I have not collected many cases. Mr. G. Brown, of the Cirencester Agricultural College, who has particularly attended to the dentition of our domestic animals, writes to me that he has “several times noticed eight permanent incisors instead of six in the jaw.” Male horses alone properly have canines, but they are occasionally found in the mare, though of small size.

The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication Volume 2

Charles Darwin

Print Publication Year:

Online Publication Date:

Online ISBN:

Paperback ISBN:

Book DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1017/CBO9780511709517