CHAPTER VII - FOWLS  pp. 225-275

FOWLS

By Charles Darwin

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As some naturalists may not be familiar with the chief breeds of the fowl, it will be advisable to give a condensed description of them. From what I have read and seen of specimens brought from several quarters of the world, I believe that most of the chief kinds have been imported into England, but many sub breeds are probably still here unknown. The following discussion on the origin of the various breeds and on their characteristic differences does not pretend to completeness, but may be of some interest to the naturalist. The classification of the breeds cannot, as far as I can see, be made natural. They differ from each other in different degrees, and do not afford characters in subordination to each other, by which they can be ranked in group under group. They seem all to have diverged by independent and different roads from a single type. Each chief breed includes differently coloured sub-varieties, most of which can be truly propagated, but it would be superfluous to describe them. I have classed the various crested fowls as sub-breeds under the Polish fowl; but I have great doubts whether this is a natural arrangement, showing true affinity or blood relationship. It is scarcely possible to avoid laying stress on the commonness of a breed; and if certain foreign sub-breeds had been largely kept in this country they would perhaps have been raised to the rank of main-breeds.

The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication Volume 2

Charles Darwin

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