Page images
PDF

which is notable to provide for itself in several months, they will not suffer any other bird of their species to come within two hundred yards round of the place; but what is very singular is, the males will never drive away the females, only when he perceives one he makes a noise with his wings to call the female, and she drives the unwelcome stranger away, not leaving it till it is without her bounds. The female does the same as to the males, whom she leaves to the male, and he drives them away. We have obserwed this several times, and I affirm it to be true. The combats between them on this occasion last sometimes pretty long, because the stranger only turns about, and does not fly directly from the nest: however, the others do not forsake it till they have quite driven it out of their limits. After these birds have raised their young one, and left it to itself, they are always together, which the other birds are not; and though they happen to mingle with other birds of the same species, these two companions never disunite. We have often remarked, that some days after the young one leaves the nest, a company of thirty or forty brings another young one to it, and the new-fledged bird, with its father and mother joining with the band, march to some bye place. . We fre: quently followed them, and found that afterwards the old ones went each their way alone, or in couples, and left the two young ones together, which we called a marriage. This particularity has something in it which looks a little fabuious; nevertheless, what I say is sincere truth, and what I have more than once observed with care and pleasure.' The worthy narrator then indulges in some reflections on marriages in general, and early marriages in particular. It is worthy of note, with reference to the alleged juxtaposition of the bones of a large land-turtle and those of the dodo, to which we shall have occasion to allude, that the same author, in the description of the same island, speaks of the multitude of land-turtles; of which he says, “I have seen one that weighed one hundred pound, and had flesh enough about it to feed a good number of men.' The preceding cut is copied from Leguat's figure of ‘the Solitary Bird.’ In the frontispiece is represented one in a sort of landscape, and also land-turtles; and in ‘a plan of the settlement’ in the Island of Rodrigo, many, some in pairs, are placed about. This plan shows the situation of the houses, &c., of Leguat and his companions: there are also landturtles and other animals.” We now proceed to trace the specimen which was in the Musaeum Tradescantianum. There were, it seems, three Tradescants, grandfather, father, and son. The two former are said to have been gardeners to Queen Elizabeth, and the latter to Charles I. There are two portraits to the “Musaeum,” one of ‘Joannes Tradescantus pater' and the other of ‘Joannes Tradescantus filius,” by Hollar. These two appear to have been the collectors: for John Tradescant, the son, writes in his address “to the ingenious reador' that he “was resolved to take a catalogue of those varieties and curiosities which my father had scedulously collected and my selfe with continued diligence have augmented, and hitherto preserved together.’ This John Tradescant, the son, must have been the Tradescant with whom Elias Ashmole boarded for a summer when Ashmole agreed to purchase the collection, which was said to have been conveyed to Ashmole by deed of gift from Tradescant and his wife. Tradescant died soon after and Ashmole, in 1662, filed a bill in Chancery for a delivery of the curiosities. The cause is stated to have come to a hearing in 1664; and, in 1674, Mrs. Tradescant delivered up the collection pursuant to a decree in Chancery, and afterwards (April, 1678, some say) was found drowned in her own pond. Ashmole added to the collection, and presented it to the University of Oxford, where it became the foundation of the Ashmolean Museum. That the entire ‘Dodar' went to Oxford with the rest of Tradescant's curiosities there can be no doubt. Hyde (Religionis Veterum Persarum, &c., Historia, 1700) makes particular mention of it as existing in

* Le premier auteur qui ait parlé du Solitaire paroit àtre Castelaton, dans le récit d'un voyage fait en 1614. et publié seulement en 1690. Il toucha à l'ile de Bourbon, alors nommée Mascaraigne parles Portugais, et encore inhabitee, quoique visitee depuis long-temps par les navigateurs. Parmi les oiseaux, qu'il y remarqua, il en particularise une espece de la grosseur d'un oie, très grande, avec des ailes courtes qui ne lui permettoient pas de voler. Cet oiseau avoit eté, dit-il, nommé jusque la le géant, et l'île de France en produit beaucoup; il est blanc, et naturellement si doux, qu'on Pent, le prendre à la main; du moins ils etoient si peu estrayes à la vue des matelots, qu'il leur étoit aisé d'en tuer un très grand nombre avec des bâtons et des pierres. (De Blainville.)

the Museum at Oxford. There, according to Mr. Duncan, it was destroyed in 1755 by order of the visitors, and he thus gives the evidence of its destruction:– “In the Ashmolean Catalogue, made by Ed. Llhwyd, Musaei Procustos, 1684 (Plott being the keeper), the entry of the bird is “ No. 29. Gallus gallinaceus peregrinus Clusii, &c.” In a Catalogue made subsequently to 1755, it is stated “That the numbers from 5 to 46, being decayed, were ordered to be removed at a meeting of the majority of the visitors, Jan. 8, 1755.” Among these of course was included the Dodo, its number being 29. This is further shown by a new Catalogue, completed in 1756, in which the order of the visitors is recorded as follows: “Illa quibus nullus in margine assignatur numerus a Musaeo subducta sunt cimelia, annuentibus Vice-Cancellario aliisque Curatoribus ad ea lustranda convocatis, die Januarii 8vo., A.D. 1755.” The Dodo is one of those which are here without the number.' (Dun can On the Dodo; Zool. Journ, vol. iii., p. 559.) Upon this solemn sentence, which left to the Museum nothing but a foot and a head, Lyell makes the following observation: “Some have complained that inscriptions on tomb-stones convey no general information, except that individuals were born and died, accidents which must happen alike to all men. But the death of a species is so remarkable an event in natural history that it deserves commemoration; and it is with no small interest that we learn from the archives of the University of Oxford, the exact day and year, when the remains of the last specimen of the Dodo, which had been permitted to rot in the Ashmolean Museum, were cast away:’ and the author concludes by giving the fatal record at length with becoming gravity. We now come to the celebrated painting in the British Museum, a copy of which, by the kind assistance of the officers of the zoological department, who have given us every assistance in prosecuting this inquiry, and who had it taken down for the purpose, we present to our readers. It has been stated that the painting came into the possession of Sir Hans Sloane, president of the Royal Society, and that it was bought at his sale by Edwards, who, after publishing a plate from it in his Gleanings, presented it to the Royal Society, whence it passed, as well as the foot, into the British Museum. But Mr. Gray informs us that the foot only came with the museum of the Royal Society described by Grew; and that the picture was an especial gift from Edwards. Edwards's copy seems to have been made in 1760, and he himself says—“The original picture was drawn in Holland from the living bird brought from St. Maurice's Island in the East Indies in the early times of the discovery of the Indies by the way of the Cape of Good Hope. It was the property of the late Sir Hans Sloane to the time of his death; and afterwards becoming my property I deposited it in the British Museum as a great curiosity. The above history of the picture I had from Sir Hans Sloane and the late Dr. Mortimer, secretary to the Royal Society.” M. Morel, Ecrivain Principal des Hôpitaux, au PortLouis de l'Isle de France, writes as follows in his paper ‘Sur les oiseaux monstrueux nommés Dronte, Dodo, Cygne Capuchonné, Solitaire, et Oiseau de Nazare, et sur la petite Isle de Sable à 50 lieues environ de Madagascar.’ ‘These birds, so well described in the second volume of the “JHistory of Birds”, by M. le Comte de Buffon, and of which M. do Borame has also spoken in his “Dictionary of Natural History,’ under the names of Dronte, Dodo, Hooded Swan (Cygne Capuchonné), Solitary or Wild Turkey (Dinde sauvage) of Madagascar, have never been seen in the isles of France, Bourbon, Rodriguez, or even the Seychelles lately discovered, during more than 60 years since when these Slaces have been inhabited and visited by French colonists. he oldest inhabitants assure every one that these monstrous birds have been always unknown to them.” After some remarks that the Portuguese and Dutch who first overran these islands may have seen some very large birds, such as Emeus or Cassowaries, &c., and described them each after his own manner of observing, M. Morel thus proceeds: “ However this may be, it is certain that for nearly an age (depuis près un siècle) no one has here seen an animal of this species. But it is very probable that before the islands were inhabited, people might have been able to find some species of very large birds, heavy and incapable of flight, and that the first mariners who sojourned there soon destroyed them from the facility with which they were caught. This was what made the Dutch sailors call the bird ‘Oiseaude dégoût” (Walck-Voegel), because they were surfeited with the flesh of it. * * * But among all the species of birds which are found on this isle of sand and on all the other islets and rocks which are in the neighbourhood of the Isle of France, modern navigators have never found anything approaching to the birds above named, and which may be referred to the number of species which may have existed, but which have been destroyed by the too great facility with which they are taken, and which are no longer found excepting upon islands or coasts entirely uninhabited. At Madagascar, where there are many species of birds unknown in these islands, none have been met with resembling the description above alluded to." (Observations sur la Physique pour l'an 1778, tom. xii., p. 154. Notes.) Mr. Duncan thus concludes his paper above alluded to : * Having applied, through the medium of a friend, to Q. Tel: fair, Esq. of Port Louis, in the Mauritius, a naturalist of great research, for any information he could furnish or procure relating to the former existence of the Dodo in that island, I obtained only the following partly negative statement :— ‘That there is a very general impression among the inhabitants that the Dodo did exist at Rodriguez, as well as in the Mauritius itself; but that the oldest inhabitants have never seen it, nor has the bird or any part of it been preserved in any museum or collection formed in those islands, although some distinguished amateurs in natural history have passed their lives on them, ai.d formed extensive collections. And with regard to the supposed existence of the Dodo in Madagascar, although Mr. Telfair had not received, at the time of his writing to Europe, a reply to a letter on the subject which he had addressed to a gentleman resident on that island, yet he stated that he had not any great expectations from that quarter; as the Dodo was not mentioned in any of his voluminous manuscripts respecting that island, which contained the travels of persons who had traversed Madagascar in all directions, many of them having no other object in view than that of extending the bounds of natural

hustory’

Dodo, from the picture in the British Museum.

We close this part of the case with the evidence of one evidently well qualified to judge, and whose veracity there is no reason to doubt. If this evidence be, as we believe it to be, unimpeachable, it is clear not only that the Dodo existed, but that it was publicly exhibited in London. The lacunae in the print represent the spaces occasioned by a hole burnt in the manuscript.

In Sloane MSS. (No. 1839, 5, p. 108, Brit. Mus.) is the following interesting account by L’Estrange in his observations on Sir Thomas Browne’s “Vulgar Errors.” It is worthy of note that the paragraph immediately follows one on the * Estridge' (Ostrich).

“About 1638, as I walked London streets I saw the picture of a strange fowl hong out upon a cloth Vas and myselfe with one or two more Gen. in company went in to see it. It was kept in a chamber, and was a great fowle somewhat bigger than the largest Turkey Cock and so legged and footed but stouter and thicker and of a more erect shape, coloured before like the breast of a yong Cock Fesan (pheasant), and on the back of dunn or deare coulour. The keeper called it a Dodo and in the ende of a chimney in the chamber there lay an heap of large pebble stones whereof hee gave it many in our sight, some as bigg as nutmegs, and the keeper told us shee eats them conducing to digestion and though I remember not how farre the keeper was questioned therein yet I am confident that afterwards she cast them all agayne.”

evidence ARising FROM ReMAINs.

The only existing recent remains attributed to the Dodo are, a leg in the British Museum, and a head (a cast of which is in Brit. Mus.), and a leg in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, the relics most probably of Tradescant's bird. Whether the leg formerly in the museum of Pauw be that at present in the British Museum may be, perhaps, doubtful, though we think with Mr. Gray that they are probably

• This curious statement is extracted in the recent edition of Sir Thomas Brown's works by Wilkins : published by Pickering. H 2

[graphic][graphic]

identical; but that the specimen in the British Museum did not belong to Tradescant's specimen is clear, for it existed in the collection belonging to the Royal Society when Tradescant’s ‘Dodar' was complete. In the ‘Anmales des Sciences' (tome xxi. p. 103, Sept. 1830) will be found an account of an assemblage of fossil bones, then recently discovered, under a bed of lava, in the Isle of France, and sent to the Paris Museum. They almost all belonged to a large living species of land-tortoise, called Testudo Indica, but amongst them were the head, sternum, and humerus of the dodo. “M. Cuvier,’ adds Mr. Lyell in his “Principles of Geology,” “showed me these valuable remains at Paris, and assured me that they left no doubt in his mind that the huge, bird was one of the gallinaceous tribe'

Foot of Dodo (specimen in the British Museum .

In a letter addressed to the Secretary of the Zoological Society, by Charles Telfair, Esq., Corr. Memb. Z. S., dated Port Louis (Mauritius), November 8, 1832, and read before a meeting of the society on the 12th March, 1833, it appeared that Mr. Telfair had recently had opportunities of making some researches about the buried bones of the Dronte or Dodo found in the Island of Rodriguez. The result of these researches he communicated, and enclosed letters addressed to him by Col. Dawkins, military secretary to the Governor of the Mauritius, and by M. Eudes, resident at Rodriguez.

Col. Dawkins, it was stated, in a recent visit to Rodriguez, conversed with every person whom he met respecting the Dodo, and became convinced that the bird does not exist there. The general statement was that no bird is to be found there except the Guinea-fowl and Parrot. From one person, however, he learned the existence of another bird, which was called Oiseau-boeuf, a name derived from its voice, which resembles that of a cow. From the description given of it by his informant, Col. Dawkins at first believed that this bird was really the Dodo ; but on obtaining a specimen of it, it proved to be a Gannet (apparently referable to the Lesser Gannet of Dr. Latham, the Sula candida of Brisson, and the Pelecanus Piscator of Linnaeus). It is found only in the most secluded parts of the Island. Col. Dawkins visited the caverns in which bones have been dug up, and dug in several places, but found only small pieces of bone. A beautiful rich soil forms the ground-work of them, which is from six to eight feet deep, and contains no pebbles. No animal of any description inhabits these caves, not even bats.

M. Eudes succeeded in digging up in the large cavern various bones, including some of a large kind of bird, which uo longer exists in the Island: these he forwarded to Mr. Telfair, by whom they were presented to the Zoological Society. The only part of the cavern in which they were found was at the entrance, where the darkness begins; the little attention usually paid to this part by visitors may be the reason why they have not been previously found. Those near the surface were the least injured, and they occur to the depth of three feet, but nowhere in consider

able quantity; whence M. Eudes conjectured that the bird was at all times rare, or at least uncommon. A bird of so large a size as that indicated by the bones had never been seen by M. Gory, who had resided forty years on the island. M. Eudes added that the Dutch who first landed at Rodrii. left cats there to destroy the rats which annoyed them: these cats have since become very numerous, and prove highly destructive to poultry; and he suggested the lo that they may have destroyed the large kind of ird to which the bones belonged, by devouring the young ones as soon as they were hatched,—a destruction which may have been completed long before the Island was inhabited. The bones procured by M. Eudes for Mr. Telfair were presented by that gentleman to the Zoological Society. At the reading of the letter, &c., they were laid on the table, and consisted of numerous bones of the extremities of one or more large species of Tortoise, several bones of the hinder extremity of a large bird, and the head of a humerus. With reference to the metatarsal bone of the bird, which was long and strong, Dr. Grant o out that it possessed articulating surfaces for four toes, three directed forwards and one backwards, as in the foot of the Dodo preserved in the British Museum, to which it was also Elonel in its magnitude and form. (Zool. Proc. 1833 art 1.)

OPINIons of ZooLogists AND supposed PLACE IN THE ANIMAL SERIEs.

Piso, in his edition of Bontius, places the Dodo immediately before the Cassowary; and here we may observe that the figure of Bontius does not appear to be identical with the picture which now hangs in the British Museum. Though there is a general resemblance there are particular differences which go far to show, at all events, that the figure of Bontius and that in the picture are different portraits. Willughby's eighth chapter treats of ‘The greatest land birds, of a peculiar kind by themselves, which, by reason of the bulk of their bodies, and the smallness of their wings, cannot fly, but only walk. The Ostrich occupies the 1st section of this chapter, and the Dodo the fourth and last, being immediately preceded by “the Cassowary or Emeu. Ray’s section “Aves rostris rectionibus minusque hamatis maximae, singulares et sui generis, ob corporum molem et alarum brevitatem volandi impotes' contains the same birds as Willughby's eighth chapter, viz.: the Ostrich, the American Ostrich, the Emeu, Eme or Cassowary, and, lastly, the Dodo. Moehring, and after him, Brisson, gives the bird, under the name of Raphus, a position next to the Ostriches also. Buffon places it independently. Linnaeus, in his last edition of the ‘Systema Naturae' (the 12th, 1766), places the bird at the head of his ‘Gallinae,’ the order immediately succeeding the ‘Gralla, under the name of Didus ineptus, and immediately before the genus Paro (Peacocks). The genus Struthio is the last of his Gral/re, and Rhea (American Ostrich) the last species of Struthio, so that Didus ineptus stands between Struthio Rhea, Linn., and Pavo cristatus (the Peacock). In a former edition Linnaeus had noticed the bird under the name Struthio cucullatus. Latham in his synopsis (1782) followed Linnaeus, but gave three species, viz., the Hooded Dodo, the Solitary Dodo, and the Nazarene Dodo. Gmelin, in his edition of the ‘Systema Naturae' (1789), makes Psophia (Trumpeter) the last genus of the Linnaean Grallae, and Otis (Bustard) the first genus of the Linnaean Gallinae, under which last-mentioned order he arranges the genus Didus, placing it between the genera Struthio and Pavo, which are both included by Gmelin in the order Gallinae. He also gives three species:–1st. Didus ineptus, which he describes as ‘black, clouded with white, with tetradactyle feet.” The following are his synonyms:Didus, Syst. Nat. xii. 1, p. 267, n. 1; Struthio cucullatus, Syst. Nat. x. p. 155; Raphus, Briss. Av. 5, p. 14, n. 1: Cygnus cucullatus, Nieremb. Nat. 231; Gallus gallinaceus peregrinus, Clus. Exot. 99, t. 10; Olear. Mus. 23, t. 13, f. 5: Dronte, Bont. Jav. 70, Buff. Hist. Nat. des Ois. i. p. 480; Dod-aersen or Valgh-Vogel, Herbert it. p. 382, t. 383; Dodo, Raj, Av. p. 37, n. 8: Will, Orn. p. 153, t. 27; Edw. Glean. t. 294; Hooded Dodo, Lath. Syn. iii. 1, p. 1, t. 70. 2nd. Didus solitarius; Solitaire, Buff. Hist. Nat. des Ois. i. p. 485; Leguat it. i. p. 98; Solitary Dodo, Lath. Syn. iii. 1, p. 3, n. 2. This species is described by Gmelin as “varied with grey and brown, with tetradactyle feet.’ 3rd. Didus Nazarenus ; Oiseau de Nazareth, et Oiseau de Nausée, Buff. Hist. Nat. des Ois. i. p. 485; Cauche, Madag. p. 130; Nazarene Dodo, Lath. Syn. iii. 1, p. 4, n. 3. Gmelin describes this species as ‘black, with tetradactyle feet.” Blumenbach followed Linnaeus; and Duméril and Vieillot followed Latham. Temminck instituted in his “Analyse du Système Général d'Ornithologie,” the order Inertes, for the Dodo and the Aptery.c.; two birds, as Mr. Yarrell in his paper on the Apteryx (Trans. Zool. Soc., vol. i., p. 71) observes, differing decidedly from each other in their beaks; but in reference to their imperfect wings, as also in the nature of their external covering, having obvious relation to the species included in his order Cursores. “But, adds Mr. Yarrell, “the situation chosen for this order Inertes, at the extreme end of his systematic arrangement, leads me to infer that M. Temminck considered as imaginary the subjects for which it was formed.' Illiger, in his Prodromus (1811), instituted the order Inepti for the reception of the Dodo alone, Apteryx not being then known, and he placed it immediately preceding his Cursores, containing the Struthious Birds. Cuvier, in the first edition of his Régne Animal at the end of his notice on his family Brevipennes (Les Autruches, Struthio, Linn.), has the following note appended to his description of the last species, Rhea. “I cannot place in this table species but badly known, or, more, so little authentic as those which compose the genus Didus. The first or the Dronte (Didus ineptus) is only known from a description given by the first Dutch navigators, and preserved by Clusius, Erot. p. 99, and by an oil-painting of the same epoch copied by Éol. pl. 294; for the description of Herbert is puerile, and all the others are copied from Clusius and Edwards. It would seem that the species has entirely disappeared, and we now possess no more of it at the present day than a foot preserved in the British Museum (Shaw, Nat. Miscell. pl. 143), and a head in bad condition in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. The bill does not seem to be without some relation to that of the Auks (Pingouins), and the foot would bear considerable resemblance to that of the Penguins (Manchots), if it were palmated. The second species, or the Solitaire (Didus Solitarius), rests only on the testimony of Leguat, P'oy. i. p. 98, a man who has disfigured the best known animals, such as the Hippopotamus and Lamantin. Finally, the third species, or L'Oiseau de Nazare (Didus Nazarenus), is only known through François Cauche, who regards it as the same as the Dronte, and yet only gives it three toes, while all other authors give four to the Dronte. No one has been able to see any of these birds since these voyagers.’ In the second edition (1829), the note is repeated with the addition of a notice of Apteryx. With every reverence for the great zoologist who wrote it, it is impossible to avoid observing the haste and incorrectness which mark it. His opinions certainly underwent considerable modification. When he was in this country at the period of the last French revolution, he had an opportunity of seeing the head preserved in the Ashmolean Museum, and the foot in the British Museum, and he doubted the identity of this species with that of which the painting is preserved in the National collection. Lyell mentions these doubts, and we must here recall to the reader the geologist's statement above alluded to, that Cuvier showed him the valuable remains in Paris, and that he assured him that they left no doubt on his mind that the huge bird was one of the Gallinaceous tribe. (Sur Quelques Ossemens, &c., Ann, des Sci., tome xxi., p. 103, Sept., 1830.) Shaw, as appears indeed from Cuvier's note, made mention of the Dodo in his Naturalist's Miscellany (plates 142 and 143), giving a figure of the head preserved in the Ashmolean Museum, and in his Zoological Lectures. The continuer of his ‘Zoology' has the following sweeping notice of the bird:—‘The Dodo of Edwards appears to have existed only in the imagination of that artist, or the species has been utterly extirpated since his time, which is scarcely probable. Its beak is said to be deposited in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford, and a foot in the collection in the British Museum. The former appears rather to belong to some unknown species of albatross than to a bird of this order, and the latter to another unknown bird; but upon

[graphic]

what authority it has been stated to belong to the Dodo, I am at a loss to determine. A painting by Edwards sull exists in the British Museum.” ‘This hasty judgment,’ says Mr. Duncan in his paper in the Zoological journal, is fully refuted, especially by the existing head, and the exact resemblance of the leg at Oxford to that in London.' Mr. Vigors, in his paper “On the Natural Affinities that connect the Orders and Families of Birds' (Linn. Trans, vol. xiv., p. 395, read December 3, 1823), thus writes on the subject of the Dodo - Considerable doubts have arisen as to the o existence of the Linnaean Didus ; and they have been increased by the consideration of the numberless opportunities that have latterly occurred of ascertaining the existence of these birds in those situations, the isles of Mauritius and Bourbon, where they were originally alleged to have been found. That they once existed I be. lieve cannot be questioned. Besides the descriptions given by voyagers of undoubted authority, the relics of a specimen preserved in the public repository of this country, bear decisive record of the fact. The most probable supposition that we can form on the subject is, that the race has become extinct in the before-mentioned islands, in consequence of the value of the bird as an article of food to the earlier settlers, and its incapability of escaping from pursuit. This conjecture is strengthened by the consideration of the gradual decrease of a nearly conterminous group, the Otis tarda of our British ornithology, which, from similar causes, we have every reason to suspect will shortly be lost to this country. We may, however, still entertain some hopes that the Didus may be recovered in the south-eastern part of that vast continent, hitherto so little explored, which adjoins those islands, and whence, indeed, it seems to have been originally imported into them. I dwell upon these circumstances with more particularity, as the disappearance of this group gives us some grounds for asserting, that many chasms which occur in the chain of affinities throughout nature may be accounted for on the supposition of a similar extinction of a connecting species. Here we have an instance of the former existence of a species that, as far as we can now conclude, is no longer to be found; while the link which it supplied in nature was of considerable importance. The bird in question, from every account which we have of its economy, and from the appearance of its head and foot, is decidedly Gallinaceous; and, from the insufficiency of its wings for the purposes of flight, it may with equal certainty be pronounced to be of the Struthious structure, and referable to the present family. But the foot has a strong hind toe, and, with the exception of its being more robust,-in which character it still adheres to the Struthiomida”, it corresponds exactly with the foot of the Linnaean genus Crar, that commences the succeeding family. The bird thus becomes osculant, and forms a strong point of junction between these two conterminous groups; which, though evidently approaching each other in general points of similitude, would not exhibit that intimate bond of connexion which we have seen to prevail almost uniformly throughout the neighbouring subdivisions of nature, were it not for the intervention of this important genus.’ M. Lesson, in his Manual (1828), after giving a description of the Dodo (genus Dronte, Didus, Linn., l'aphus, Moehring, Brisson), says that the genus includes but one species which may be considered as at all authenticated, and which exists no longer; this is the 19tonte, Didus ineptus, described by Clusius, ex. p. 99, figured by Edwards, 1.294. ‘They possess,’ he adds, “a foot and head of it at ndon, figured in Shaw's Miscell., pl. 143 and 166.’ Then comes the following statement:- M. Temminck has adopted, after Shaw, the genus Aptery.r, which he thus describes.” M. Lesson, after giving the description and noticing the only known species, Aptery r Australis, proceeds to make the following queries: ‘May not the Dronte be the Cassowary of the East Indies, to which has been added the bill of an Albatross? It is said that it was once very common in the Islands of France and of Bourbon, and that the former received the name of the Isle of Cern" from these birds. May not the Aptery r of M. Temm!". "...oe founded on the flagments of the Dromte pe erved in the Museum of iondon." To make the confusion “ople", M. Lesson places immediately before th9, Ho". D, onte the 12mou Kirikiri, Dromiceius Nora’ Zelando, Less, which is no other than the Aptery r Australis of Shaw, and which has been so well described and figured "Y Mr. Yarrell in the first volume of the Transactions of the Zoological Society of London. - - M. de Blainville, in a memoir on the Didus ineptus, read before the Academy of Sciences, on the 30th of August, 1830, and published in the ‘Nouvelles Annales du Muséum d'Histoire Naturelle’ (tome iv., p. 1, 4to., Paris, 1835), enters at large into the history of the bird, and terminates his list of authors thus: “Finally, not long ago (assez dernièrement) in England, an anonymous author, whom I believe to be Mr. MacLeay, has returned to the idea that this genus ought to be placed among the Gallinaceous birds. Nevertheless, although he pronounces that the Dronte is decidedly a bird of this family, he adds, that it may, with the same certainty, be referred to the Struthionidae, on account of the smallness of its wings; but, adds he, as the foot is provided with a hallux (pouce), it departs (s’eloigne) from this family to approach the genus Corair, qui doit la commencer, according to him. Thus it is one of those genera which he names osculant, forming the passage from one group to another.' Who this anonymous author may be we do not presume to guess, but we have the best authority for asserting that Mr. W. S. Mac Leay is not the W. From the context, we think it probable that Mr. 'igors's opinions above given are alluded to, Coraz being a misprint for Crar. M. de Blainville, after giving the different points on which the claim of the Dodo to be considered a gallinaceous bird rests, and the reasons for and against it, thus proceeds:– “Among the orders of birds which include the largest species, there only remain the birds of prey with which the Dodo can be compared; and it seems to us that it is to them that the bird bears the greatest resemblance.’ In proof of this it is necessary to attend to the following observations:— 1. The eyes are situated in the same part of the bill as in Cathartes. 2. The nostrils are oval, situated very forward, and without a superior scale, as in those birds. 3. The form of the skull, its great width in the interorbitary space, and its flatness at the sinciput, are also nearly the same as in those vultures. 4. Even the colour of the bill, and the two caruncular folds of the origin of the curved part, are nearly the same as in those birds. 5. The species of hood which the skin forms at the root of the bill, and which have earned for the Dodo the name of Cygnus cucullatus, has a very similar disposition in Cathartes. 6. The almost entire nudity of the neck, as well as its greenish colour seen through the few downy feathers which cover it, are also characteristic of the vulture. 7. The form, the number, and the disposition of the toes, as well as the force and curvature of the claws, indicate a bird of that family at least as much as a gallinaceous bird. 8. The scaly system of the tarsi and of the toes more resembles also what is found in Cathartes than what is observed in the Gallinaceous birds. 9. The kind of Jabot at the root of the neck, and even the muscular stomach, are found in one order as well as in the other. 10. Lastly, M. de Blainville notices the absence of the spur (l'ergot), which he remarks is nearly characteristic of the Gallinaceous birds. M. de Blainville, after expressing a hope that both the Aye-Aye (Cheiromys, which has not been seen a second time since the days of Sonnerat) and the Dodo may be yet recovered in the interior of Madagascar, thus concludes his memoir:* 1. There exist in the English collections traces of at least three individuals of a large species of walking bird (oiseau marcheur), to which has been given the name of Dodo, Dronte, Didus ineptus. “2. These traces exist in Europe since the epoch when the Dutch began to take part in the discovery of the passage to the East Indies by the Cape of Good Hope, that is to say, about 1594. “3. The name of Dodo is employed for the first time by Herbert; that of Dronte by Piso, but without its being possible to arrive at the origin and etymology of these denominations. ‘4. The country of this bird is the Isle of France; there being nothing to prove positively that it has been found either at Bourbon or at Fernandez, as has been thought,

| is only eight inches and a half, or about two-thirds.

owing to the confusion, no doubt, between the Dodo and Solitaire of Leguat. ‘5. The Dronte should be approximated to or even placed in the order of rapacious birds, near the vultures, rather than in that of the Gallinaceous birds, and, for stronger reasons, rather than among the Grallatores (Echassiers), or near the Penguins (Manchots). ‘6. It is by no means certain that this bird has disappeared from the number of living animals. If this is ssible in the case of the Isle of France, it is not probable in the case of Madagascar, the productions of which are so little known, and which belongs, up to a certain point, to the same archipelago. “There remains another question to discuss, namely, whe ther the incrusted bones which have been lately sent to M Cuvier from the Isle of France really belonged to the Dodo, as M. Cuvier was led to believe. It is a question which would be most easily solved by the immediate comparison of these bones with the pieces preserved in England. If this was so, which the difference of height in the tarsal bone does not permit us to believe, it would be at the same time proved that the Dodo existed also at Rodriguez, for these bones have been found in this isle in a cave (grotte), as M. Quoy, who saw them on his passage to the Isle of France, has assured me, and not at the Isle of France, under beds of lava, as M. Cuvier has stated from erroneous information, in his note read lately to the academy. Then there would be nearly a certainty that the Dodo was a Gallinaceous bird; but in making the observation that these bones come from the Isle of #on. and that the description of the Solitaire of Leguat accords sufficiently well with a bird of this order, or at least with a Gallinogralle, it might be that the bones actually in the hands of M. Cuvier were no other than those of the Solitary Bird properly so called, and not those of the true Dronte.' The memoir is illustrated with four plates: the first is a coloured copy of the head of the Dodo from the Museum portrait, of the size of the original. In the painting the author observes the head is at least a foot long from the occiput to the extremity of the bill; but the head at Oxford The bill, he adds, makes out nearly three-fourths of the whole length. The second plate gives a profile of the Oxford head from a sketch taken from the original, and a view of the same seen from above, and skulls of the Urubu and Wulfur Papa. Plate 3 gives two views of the foot preserved in the British Museum, and the remains of the foot at Oxford; a foot of the Heath-cock (Coq de Bruyère), a foot of a Penguin, and a foot of Vultur Papa. Plate 4 gives a profile of the cast of the head at Oxford, and a view of the same seen from below. In the British Museum (1837) in cases 65–68 (Room XIII.) are the Ostrich; Bustards which in many respects are allied to the Gallinaceous Birds;’ the foot and cast of the head of the Dodo above alluded to: the Courser and Pratincole; and at p. 99 of the Synopsis (1832) we have the following observations: “Over the door adjoining the twelfth room is an original painting of the Dodo, presented to the Museum by George Edwards, Esq., the celebrated ornithological artist, and copied in his works, plate No. 294, who says it was ‘drawn in Holland, from a living bird brought from St. Maurice's Island in the East Indies.” The only remains of this bird at present known are a foot (case 65) in this collection (presented by the Royal Society) and a head and foot, said to have belonged to a specimen which was formerly in Tradescant's Museum, but is now in the Ashmolean Museum at Oxford. The cast of the head above mentioned (in the same case) was presented by P. Duncan, Esq. The bird in the shortness of the wings resembles the ostrich, but its foot, in general, rather resembles that of the common fowl, and the beak, from the position of its nostrils, is most nearly allied to the Vultures; so that its true place in the series of birds, if indeed such a bird ever really existed, is not, as yet, satisfactorily determined.’ Mr. Swainson (Natural History and Classification of Birds, 1836), speaking of the birds of prey, says (p. 285), “The third and last type of this family appears to us to be the Secretary Vulture of Africa, forming the genus Gypogeranus. At least we cannot assign it to any other known division of the Raptores, without separating it much more widely from its congeners than our present state of know

ledge will sanction. It has been thought, indeed, that this

« EelmineJätka »