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Page:Popular Science Monthly Volume 57.djvu/141

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131
THE PENYCUIK EXPERIMENTS.

in Nyassaland—into the second species, the mountain zebra, once common in South Africa. The third species is the Grévy's zebra of Shoa and Somaliland; it is probably this species which attracted so much attention in the Roman amphitheaters during the third century of our era. A pair of Somali zebras has recently been presented to the queen by the Emperor Menelik, and is now lodged in the Zoological Gardens, Regent's Park. The species measures about fifteen hands high, is profusely striped, and stands well apart from the other two groups. It is important to note that, in Professor Ewart's opinion, it is the most primitive of all the existing striped horses.

There is no direct evidence that the ancestors of horses were striped. Certain observers think that some of the scratches on the lifelike etchings on bone, left us by our palæolithic cave-dwelling ancestors, indicate such stripes, but little reliance can be placed on this. On the other hand, there is much indirect evidence. Every one who has an eye for a horse, and who has traveled in Norway, is sure to have noticed the stripings, often quite conspicuous, on the dun-colored Norwegian ponies. Colonel Poole assured Darwin that the Kattiawar horses had frequently "stripes on the cheeks and sides of the nose." Breeders are well aware that foals are often born with stripes, usually on the shoulders or legs, less frequently on the face. Such stripes, as a rule, disappear as the colt grows up, but can often be detected in later life for a short time after the coat has been shed; they are sometimes only visible in certain lights, and then produce somewhat the same impression as a watered silk. From the facts that more or less striped horses are found all over the Old World; that in Mexico and other parts of America the descendants of horses which were introduced by the Spaniards and which afterward ran wild are frequently dun-colored and show stripes; that foals are frequently striped; and that mules not uncommonly have leg and shoulder stripes, the inference is largely justified that the ancestors of all our horses were striped.

We now pass to the experiments made at Penycuik in crossing the zebra Matopo with various mares of different breeds: 1. Matopo was first mated with Mulatto, one of Lord Arthur Cecil's black West Highland ponies. The result was the hybrid Romulus (see p. 132), which on the whole, both in mental disposition and bodily form, takes more after his father than his mother. His striping is even more marked than that of his sire. He has a semi-erect mane which has been shed annually. The pattern of the markings, on both body and face, resembles the stripes on a Somali zebra—which, as we have seen, is regarded by Professor Ewart as the most primitive type—more than they resemble that of any of Burchell's zebras. The profuse striping is a point of difference between this hybrid and Lord Morton's. The quagga-hybrid was less striped than many dun-colored horses.