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218
IBIS

mountains along with the goats, in whose company they would afterwards return. Even wild ibex have been known to stray among the herds of goats, although they shun the society of chamois. Its flesh is said to resemble mutton, but has a flavour of game.

By naturalists the name “ ibex ” has been extended to embrace all the kindred species of wild goats, while by sportsmen it is used in a still more elastic sense, to include not only the true wild goat (known in India as the Sind ibex) but even the short-horned Hemitragus hylocrius of the Nilgiris. Dealing only with species zoologically known as ibex, the one nearest akin to the European kind is the Asiatic or Siberian ibex (Capm


The Ibex (Capra ibex).

sibirica), which, with several local phases, extends from the northern side of Kashmir over an enormous area in Central Asia. These ibex, especially the race from the Thian Shan, are incomparably finer than the European species, their bold knotted horns sometimes attaining a length of close on 6o in. The Arabian, or Nubian, ibex (C. nubiana) is characterized by the more slender type of horn, in which the front edge is much narrower; while the Simien ibex (C. vali) of Central Abyssinia is a very large and dark-coloured animal, with the horns black instead of brownish, and bearing only slightly marked front ridges. The Caucasian ibex (C. cauoasica), or tur, is a wholly fox-coloured animal, in which the horns are still flatter in front and thus depart yet further from the ibex type. In the Spanisli ibex (C. pyrenaica) the horns lare flattened, with ill-defined knobs, and a spiral twist. (SEE GOAT.) W. H. F, - R. L.* (1)


IBIS, one of the sacred birds of the ancient Egyptians. James Bruce identified this bird with the Abu-Hannes or “ Father John ” of the Abyssinians, and in 1790 it received from Latham (Index ornithologicus, p. 7o6) the name of Tantatus aethiopicus. This determination was placed beyond question by Cuvier (A nn. du Museum, iv. 116-135) and Savigny (Hist. nat. et mythot. de Vibis) in ISOS. They, however, removed it from the Linnaean genus Tantalits and, Lacépede having some years before founded a genus Ibis, it was transferred thither, and is now generally known as I. aethiopica, though some speak of it as I. religiosa. No attempt can here be made to treat the ibis from a mythological or antiquarian point of view. Savigny's memoir contains a great deal of matter on the subject. 'Wilkinson (A noient Egyptians, ser. 2, vol. ii. pp. 217-224) added some of the results of later research, and Renouf in his H ibbert Lectures explains the origin of the myth.

The ibis is chiefly an inhabitant of the Nile basin from Dongola southward, as well as of Kordofan and Sennar; whence about midsummer it moves northwards to Egypt! In Lower Egypt it bears the name of Abu-mengel, or “father of the sickle, ” from the form of its bill, but it does not stay long in that country, disappearing when the Nile has subsided. Hence most travellers have failed to meet with it there' (since their acquaintance with the birds of Egypt is limited to those which frequent the country in winter), and writers have denied generally to this species a place in its modern fauna (cf. Shelley, Birds of Egypt, p. 261). However, in 1864, von Heuglin (Journ. jilr Ornithotogie, 1865, p. Ioo) saw a young bird which had been shot in the Delta, and E. C. Taylor (Ibis, 1878, p. 372) saw an adult which had been killed near Lake Menzal in 1877. The story told to Herodotus of its destroying snakes is, according to Savigny, devoid of truth, but Cuvier states that he discovered partly digested remains of a snake in the stomach of a mummied ibis. The ibis is somewhat larger than a curlew, N umenius arquata, which bird it resembles, with a much stouter bill and stouter legs. The head and greater part of the neck are bare and black. The plumage is white, except the primaries, which are black, and a black plume, formed by the secondaries, tertials and lower scapulars, and richly glossed with bronze, blue and green, which curves gracefully over the hind-quarters. The bill and feet are also black. The young lack the ornamental plume, and in them the head and neck are clothed with short black feathers, while the bill is yellow. The nest is placed in bushes or high trees, the bird generally building in companies, and in the middle of August von Heuglin (Om. N ard-Ost-A frikas, p. 1138) found that it had from two to four young or much incubated eggs? These are of a dingy white, splashed, spotted and speckled with reddish-brown.

Congenetic with the typical ibis are two or three other species, the I . metanocephala of India, the I motucca or I. strictipennis, of Australia, and the I. bernieri of Madagascar, - all of which closely resemble I. aethiopica; while many other forms not very far removed from it, though placed by authors in distinct genera# are known. Among these are several beautiful species such as the Japanese Geronticus nippon, the Lopltotibis cristata of Madagascar, and the scarlet ibis,5 Eudocimus ruber, of America. The glossy ibis, Plegadis falcinellus, found throughout the West Indies, Central and the south-eastern part of North America, as well as in many parts of Europe (whence it not infrequently strays to the British Islands), Africa, Asia and Australia. This bird, believed to be the second kind of ibis spoken of by Herodotus, is rather smaller than the sacred ibis, and mostly of a dark chestnut colour with brilliant green and purple reflections on the upper parts, exhibiting, however, when young none of the rufous hue. This species lays eggs of a deep sea-green colour, having wholly the character of heron's eggs, and it often breeds in company with herons, while the eggs of all other ibises whose eggs are known resemble those of the sacred ibis. Though ibises resemble the curlews externally, there is no aflinity between them. The I bididae are more nearly related to the' storks, Ciconiidae, and still more to the spoonbills, Ptataleidae, with which latter many systematists consider them to form one group, the H emiglottides of Nitzsch. Together these groups form the sub-order Ciconiae of the order Ciconiiformes. The true ibises are also to be clearly separated from the wood-ibises, Tqntalidae, of which there are four or five species, by several not unimportant structural characters. Fossil remains of a true 1 It has been said to occur occasionally in Europe (Greece and southern Russia). ' t

2 E. C. Taylor remarked (I bis, 1859, p. 51), that the buff-backed heron, Ardea bubutcus, was made by the tourists' dragomans to do duty for the “sacred ibis, " and this seems to be no novel practice, since by it, or something, like it, Hasselqvist was misled, and through him Linnaeus. 1

3 The ibis has more than once nested in the gardens of the Zoological Society in London, and even reared its young there. 4 For some account of these may be consulted Dr Reichenow's paper in Joum. für Omithologie (1877), pp. 143-156; 'Elliot's in Proc. Zoot. Society (1877), pp. 477-510; and that of Oustalet in Nouv. Arch. du Muséum, ser. 2, vols. 1. pp. 167-184. 5 It is a popular error-especially among painters»-that this bird was the sacred ibis of the Egyptians.