France, Spain, Portugal or Italy. The naturalists and lexicographers of those countries failed even to appreciate its etymological aptness and beauty. First, the French had to introduce a new word to correspond—mammifères or the breast-bearers. The other Latin races followed; the Spanish and the Portuguese with mamiferos, and the Italians with mammiferi. None of the words quoted in the Century Dictionary are even given as nouns in the ordinary dictionaries of those languages—not even in the great dictionary of Littré. Littré, however, has the words mammalogie, mammalogique and mammalogiste.
Of course the Germans coined a word from their vernacular—Säugethiere or suckling animals: the cognate nations imitated; the Dutch with Zoogdieren, the Swedish with Däggdjuren, and the Danes and Norwegians with Pattedyrene.
The first writer to use the English word Mammals to any extent was Doctor John Mason Good. In 'The Book of Nature' (1826), in the second lecture of the second series, 'On Zoological Systems,' he specifically introduces it. Quadrupeds is not appropriate 'and hence it has been correctly and elegantly exchanged by Linnæus, for that of Mammalia,' and he concludes, 'as we have no fair synonym for it in our own tongue, I shall beg leave now, as I have on various other occasions, to render mammals.' He repeatedly used the English form elsewhere in 'The Book.' I have been unable to find any use of the word in its singular number, however.
The singular form—mammal—has been indicated as rare or unusual. One might look through many volumes on mammals as well as on general natural history and not find it. As a matter of fact, however, it may be frequently used. Let us go, for example, into a laboratory when they are assorting a miscellaneous lot of bones gathered from some fossil ossuary. Such expressions may be heard as 'that seems to be a mammal bone'; 'that is a mammal bone'; 'that is a mammal bone'; 'that is a mammal bone'—or the substantive mammal alone may be used. Further, a whale may be alluded to as a gigantic mammal or a mammal giant.
The earliest English author to use the singular form to any extent was Richard Owen. In his 'History of British Fossil Mammals and Birds' (1846), for example, he alluded to a mastodon as 'this rare British Fossil Mammal' (p. xxii), and asserted that he knew 'of no other extinct genus of mammal which was so cosmopolitan as the mastodon' (p. xlii); he said that 'the Myrmecobius is an insectivorous mammal, and also marsupial' (p. 40), and he claimed, conditionally, that 'the Meles taxus is the oldest known species of mammal now living on the face of the earth' (p. 111).
Even the word in plural form was grudgingly admitted. The Latin