Page:Descent of Man 1875.djvu/491

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Chap. XVI.
Birds—Young like Adult Males.

been of no service to them, and would not have been selected; and moreover, if dangerous, would have been eliminated. Thus the females and the young will either have been left unmodified, or (as is much more common) will have been partially modified by receiving through transference from the males some of his successive variations. Both sexes have perhaps been directly acted on by the conditions of life to which they have long been exposed: but the females from not being otherwise much modified, will best exhibit any such effects. These changes and all others will have been kept uniform by the free intercrossing of many individuals. In some cases, especially with ground birds, the females and the young may possibly have been modified, independently of the males, for the sake of protection, so as to have acquired the same dull coloured plumage.

Class II. When the adult female is more conspicuous than the adult male, the young of both sexes in their first plumage resemble the adult male.—This class is exactly the reverse of the last, for the females are here brighter coloured or more conspicuous than the males; and the young, as far as they are known, resemble the adult males instead of the adult females. But the difference between the sexes is never nearly so great as with many birds in the first class, and the cases are comparatively rare. Mr. Wallace, who first called attention to the singular relation which exists between the less bright colours of the males and their performing the duties of incubation, lays great stress on this point,[1] as a crucial test that obscure colours have been acquired for the sake of protection during the period of nesting. A different view seems to me more probable. As the cases are curious and not numerous, I will briefly give all that I have been able to find.

In one section of the genus Turnix, quail-like birds, the female is invariably larger than the male (being nearly twice as large in one of the Australian species), and this is an unusual circumstance with the Gallinaceae. In most of the species the female is more distinctly coloured and brighter than the male,[2] but in some few species the sexes are alike. In Turnix taigoor of India the male "wants the black on the throat and neck, and the whole tone of the plumage is lighter and less pronounced than that of the female." The female appears to be noisier, and is certainly much more pugnacious than the male; so that the

  1. 'Westminster Review,' July, 1867, and A. Murray, 'Journal of Travel,' 1868, p. 83.
  2. For the Australian species, see Gould's 'Handbook,' &c., vol. ii. pp. 178, 180, 186, and 188. In the British Museum specimens of the Australian Plain-wanderer (Pedionomus torquatus) may be seen, shewing similar sexual differences.