Men SexeBook

The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex




During a period of twelve years, from 1857 to 1868, the births of a large number of greyhounds, throughout England, were sent to the 'Field' newspaper; and I am again indebted to Mr. Tegetmeier for carefully tabulating the results. The recorded births were 6878, consisting of 3605 males and 3273 females, that is, in the proportion of 110.1 males to 100 females. The greatest fluctuations occurred in 1864, when the proportion was as 95.3 males, and in 1867, as 116.3 males to 100 females. The above average proportion of 110.1 to 100 is probably nearly correct in the case of the greyhound, but whether it would hold with other domesticated breeds is in some degree doubtful. Mr. Cupples has enquired from several great breeders of dogs, and finds that all without exception believe that females are produced in excess; but he suggests that this belief may have arisen from females being less valued, and from the consequent disappointment producing a stronger impression on the mind.


The sexes of sheep are not ascertained by agriculturists until several months after birth, at the period when the males are castrated; so that the following returns do not give the proportions at birth. Moreover, I find that several great breeders in Scotland, who annually raise some thousand sheep, are firmly convinced that a larger proportion of males than of females die during the first year or two. Therefore the proportion of males would be somewhat larger at birth than at the age of castration. This is a remarkable coincidence with what, as we have seen, occurs with mankind, and both cases probably depend on the same cause.

I have received returns from four gentlemen in England who have bred Lowland sheep, chiefly Leicesters, during the last ten to sixteen years; they amount altogether to 8965 births, consisting of 4407 males and 4558 females; that is in the proportion of 96.7 males to 100 females. With respect to Cheviot and black-faced sheep bred in Scotland, I have received returns from six breeders, two of them on a large scale, chiefly for the years 1867-1869, but some of the returns extend back to 1862. The total number recorded amounts to 50,685, consisting of 25,071 males and 25,614 females or in the proportion of 97.9 males to 100 females. If we take the English and Scotch returns together, the total number amounts to 59,650, consisting of 29,478 males and 30,172 females, or as 97.7 to 100.

So that with sheep at the age of castration the females are certainly in excess of the males, but probably this would not hold good at birth. (59. I am much indebted to Mr. Cupples for having procured for me the above returns from Scotland, as well as some of the following returns on cattle. Mr. R. Elliot, of Laighwood, first called my attention to the premature deaths of the males, --a statement subsequently confirmed by Mr. Aitchison and others. To this latter gentleman, and to Mr. Payan, I owe my thanks for large returns as to sheep.)

Of CATTLE I have received returns from nine gentlemen of 982 births, too few to be trusted; these consisted of 477 bull-calves and 505 cow-calves; i.e., in the proportion of 94.4 males to 100 females. The Rev. W.D. Fox informs me that in 1867 out of 34 calves born on a farm in Derbyshire only one was a bull. Mr. Harrison Weir has enquired from several breeders of PIGS, and most of them estimate the male to the female births as about 7 to 6. This same gentleman has bred RABBITS for many years, and has noticed that a far greater number of bucks are produced than does. But estimations are of little value.

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