Men SexeBook

The Descent of Man and Selection in Relation to Sex

Lastly in the baboon family...


Lastly, in the baboon family, the adult male of Cynocephalus hamadryas differs from the female not only by his immense mane, but slightly in the colour of the hair and of the naked callosities. In the drill (C. leucophaeus) the females and young are much paler-coloured, with less green, than the adult males. No other member in the whole class of mammals is coloured in so extraordinary a manner as the adult male mandrill (C. mormon). The face at this age becomes of a fine blue, with the ridge and tip of the nose of the most brilliant red. According to some authors, the face is also marked with whitish stripes, and is shaded in parts with black, but the colours appear to be variable. On the forehead there is a crest of hair, and on the chin a yellow beard. "Toutes les parties superieures de leurs cuisses et le grand espace nu de leurs fesses sont egalement colores du rouge le plus vif, avec un melange de bleu qui ne manque reellement pas d'elegance." (31. Gervais, 'Hist. Nat. des Mammiferes,' 1854, p. 103. Figures are given of the skull of the male.

Also Desmarest, 'Mammalogie,' p. 70. Geoffroy St.-Hilaire and F. Cuvier, 'Hist. Nat. des Mammiferes,' 1824, tom. i.) When the animal is excited all the naked parts become much more vividly tinted. Several authors have used the strongest expressions in describing these resplendent colours, which they compare with those of the most brilliant birds. Another remarkable peculiarity is that when the great canine teeth are fully developed, immense protuberances of bone are formed on each cheek, which are deeply furrowed longitudinally, and the naked skin over them is brilliantly- coloured, as just-described. (Fig. 69.) In the adult females and in the young of both sexes these protuberances are scarcely perceptible; and the naked parts are much less bright coloured, the face being almost black, tinged with blue. In the adult female, however, the nose at certain regular intervals of time becomes tinted with red.

In all the cases hitherto given the male is more strongly or brighter coloured than the female, and differs from the young of both sexes. But as with some few birds it is the female which is brighter coloured than the male, so with the Rhesus monkey (Macacus rhesus), the female has a large surface of naked skin round the tail, of a brilliant carmine red, which, as I was assured by the keepers in the Zoological Gardens, periodically becomes even yet more vivid, and her face also is pale red. On the other hand, in the adult male and in the young of both sexes (as I saw in the Gardens), neither the naked skin at the posterior end of the body, nor the face, shew a trace of red. It appears, however, from some published accounts, that the male does occasionally, or during certain seasons, exhibit some traces of the red. Although he is thus less ornamented than the female, yet in the larger size of his body larger canine teeth, more developed whiskers, more prominent superciliary ridges, he follows the common rule of the male excelling the female.

I have now given all the cases known to me of a difference in colour between the sexes of mammals. Some of these may be the result of variations confined to one sex and transmitted to the same sex, without any good being gained, and therefore without the aid of selection. We have instances of this with our domesticated animals, as in the males of certain cats being rusty-red, whilst the females are tortoise-shell coloured. Analogous cases occur in nature: Mr. Bartlett has seen many black varieties of the jaguar, leopard, vulpine phalanger, and wombat; and he is certain that all, or nearly all these animals, were males. On the other hand, with wolves, foxes, and apparently American squirrels, both sexes are occasionally born black. Hence it is quite possible that with some mammals a difference in colour between the sexes, especially when this is congenital, may simply be the result, without the aid of selection, of the occurrence of one or more variations, which from the first were sexually limited in their transmission.

Nevertheless it is improbable that the diversified, vivid, and contrasted colours of certain quadrupeds, for instance, of the above monkeys and antelopes, can thus be accounted for. We should bear in mind that these colours do not appear in the male at birth, but only at or near maturity; and that unlike ordinary variations, they are lost if the male be emasculated. It is on the whole probable that the strongly-marked colours and other ornamental characters of male quadrupeds are beneficial to them in their rivalry with other males, and have consequently been acquired through sexual selection. This view is strengthened by the differences in colour between the sexes occurring almost exclusively, as may be collected from the previous details, in those groups and sub-groups of mammals which present other and strongly-marked secondary sexual characters; these being likewise due to sexual selection.

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