The Zoologist/4th series, vol 2 (1898)/Issue 680/On Zebra-Horse Hybrids
|Zoologist, 1898.||Plate I.|
|Zoologist, 1898.||Plate II.|
|Zoologist, 1898.||Plate III.|
No. 680.—February, 1898.
ON ZEBRA-HORSE HYBRIDS.
By J.C. Ewart, F.R.S.
Regius Professor of Natural History, University of Edinburgh.
(Plates I., II., III.)
The Zebra Sire of the Hybrids.
During the last two years I have bred five hybrids by crossing mares with a Zebra (Equus burchelli var. chapmani). The first hybrid was born on Aug. 12th, 1896; the others were born during the summer of 1897. The dams of the respective hybrids are (1) an Island of Rum pony, (2) a Shetland pony, (3) an Iceland pony, (4) an Irish mare, (5) a cross-bred Clydesdale mare.
The sire ("Matopo") of all the hybrids is a handsome 12.3 hands Burchell's Zebra, probably from the Transvaal. As fig. 1 (PI. I.) shows, Matopo is well formed, with powerful legs and, for a Zebra, a fine neck and fairly good shoulders. In his movements he is almost perfect. When trotting, the fore legs move gracefully, without suggesting the hammering action of the hackney; and when galloping he seems to bound along as if without effort, and with but little expenditure of energy.
If Zebras deserve the ill character they have hitherto borne, Matopo must be an exception to the rule. We are too apt to forget that until Zebras have been under domestication for some generations, it is unfair to judge them by the Horse standard, which after all is not so very high. I have known several perfectly docile captured Zebras, and I have had in my possession a filly (taken when quite young in the Transvaal) which from the first was as docile, tractable, and trustworthy as any pony that was ever foaled. I have refrained from handling Matopo for obvious reasons, yet there is never any difficulty in managing him, unless when he is herding mares, or unusually excited. When in a field with mares he is unapproachable, for, regardless of consequences, he attacks all who venture into his vicinity. Galloping up open-mouthed, uttering his characteristic call, he endeavours to seize intruders by the legs. On one occasion, in a small paddock, he guarded a dozen mares so well, that it took four of us nearly two hours to drive them into their boxes. He is, however, easily upset by unusual noises, and there is nothing that drives him into a state of frenzy so readily as carpet-beating, or that cows him so effectually as a coil of rope. I have often wondered if the rhythmic beating of carpets reminds him of the day when in far-off Africa he lost his freedom; of the time when Boers entangled his limbs to music made by Zulus beating their shields with their assegais.
The more characteristic stripes of Matopo are seen in figs. 1 and 2 (Pl. I.). I have already described at some length the plan of the striping in various Zebras, and hence only a short account of Matopo's markings need here be given.
Fig. 2 (Pl. I.) shows a series of pointed brow arches, some of which end in a frontal tuft nearly two inches in length. Continuous with the frontal stripes are a number of vertical stripes. These stripes extend to the muzzle, the dark skin of which is sparsely covered with short light hairs, except above the nostrils where there are dark brown "nostril patches." There is usually a distinct shoulder-stripe in Zebras, passing downwards from the withers to bifurcate about the level of the shoulder-joint. In fig. 2 (Pl. I.) the shoulder-stripe is double, while in fig. 1 it has blended with a humeral stripe. Between the shoulder-stripe and the occipital crest there are usually twelve cervical stripes, all of which run up into the mane to form, with a corresponding number of white bundles, a series of black and white tufts. Lying between the two upright rows of tufts, and continuous with the dorsal band, is the mane proper, consisting of more or less upright black hairs. The most anterior part of the mane, instead of forming a forelock, extends beyond the level of the ears, and projects forwards at right angles to the long axis of the face. Behind the shoulder-stripe there are, on the left side, five broad, nearly vertical stripes, all but the last reaching the dorsal band above, while all but the first reach the ventral band below. Behind the fifth vertical stripe are a number of broad oblique stripes, with indistinct "shadow" stripes between them. One of these oblique stripes, beginning at the root of the tail, runs forward to pass over the point of the ilium (hip) before bending sharply downwards to reach the ventral band. I have named this the great flank-stripe. Below this flank-stripe a second, having a similar course, may be known as the intermediate flank-stripe. The intermediate stripe is followed by a third, which, starting some distance below the root of the tail, runs obliquely across the quarters to bifurcate over the stifle, the anterior division proceeding towards, but not actually reaching, the ventral band. This may be known as the lower or stifle flank-stripe. These three flank-stripes are equally distinct on the right side, the bifurcation over the stifle being especially evident.
In the space formed by the splitting of the shoulder-stripe are several indistinct arches, and below these arches are the transverse bars of the leg. In some cases this V-shaped space contains portions of seven arches, and the legs may be striped to the hoofs. Below the stifle-stripe there are first oblique and then nearly transverse stripes across the hind leg, with sometimes shadow-stripes between. In Matopo the stripes are indistinct on the lower part of the hind leg, but in many Zebras they become more distinct and relatively broader as the hoof is reached. It will be further observed from the figures (a) that the upper part of the tail is distinctly striped, and that, as in an Ox, only the lower part of the tail carries long hairs; (b) that though there is a large wart (chestnut) on the fore leg, there is no vestige of a wart on the hind leg, and (c) that there is no tuft of hair at the fetlock.
It may be mentioned that in no two Zebras, or on the two sides (Plate I., figs. 1 and 2) of the same Zebra, is the striping alike, that in some cases there are nearly as many shadow as there are ordinary stripes on the neck and body; that even in some Burchell's Zebras there are stripes across the croup and rump which suggest the "gridiron" of the Common Zebra (E. zebra); and that while in summer the dark stripes are nearly black and the light stripes cream-coloured, in winter the dark stripes are occupied by fairly long brown hairs, while the light stripes are made up of equally long white hairs; the light tufts at the side of the mane, however, are white summer and winter. It may be added that Matopo, like the majority of the Burchell group of Zebras, being adapted for a life on the plains, has rounded hoofs and comparatively short ears. He thus differs from the Mountain Zebra (E. zebra), and from his stable companion, a white Egyptian Donkey, in which the hoofs are long and narrow, while the ears measure 11½ in., five inches more than in Matopo.
The Hybrid "Romulus."
The oldest hybrid (Romulus), as already noted, was born on the 12th of August, 1896, the period of gestation being three hundred and forty-two days,—in the mare it is usually from three hundred and forty to three hundred and fifty days. The dam of Romulus was a 13-hands, black Island of Rum pony, lent for the experiments by Lord Arthur Cecil, of Orchardmains, Kent. The well-bred black ponies of the Scottish Western Highlands and Islands, which have long been under observation, form a distinct breed, well adapted in many ways for crossing with Zebras. Their resemblance to Eastern Horses has been accounted for by saying they have descended from sires which escaped from the ships of the Spanish Armada.
Romulus, when a few days old, was the most attractive little creature I have ever seen (Plate III., fig. 1). He seemed to combine all the grace and beauty of an Antelope and a well-bred Arab foal. Instead of, like his sire, looking as if freshly painted for a Lord Mayor's Show, he was faultless in colouring and in the disposition of the stripes, spots, and bands. The body colour was chiefly of a bright golden yellow, while the stripes and spots were of a rich dark brown; but what was especially remarkable was the indescribable sheen of his coat, the dark bands being especially lustrous. A casual glance showed that in the plan of his striping Romulus was utterly unlike his sire, and, when a careful examination was made, it became evident that in the number and arrangement of the markings he was not unlike a Somali Zebra. As fig. 1 (PI. II.) shows, the brow has been tattooed as if to represent a huge finger print. Instead of the four or five acutely-pointed frontal arches of his sire, there are fourteen rounded arches, that remind one of the face of the Somali Zebra. Instead of twelve cervical stripes, as in Matopo, there are in Romulus twenty-four cervical stripes, all of which can be traced into the mane. In having so many cervical stripes, he seems to be more primitive than even the Somali Zebra (in which I have never seen more than fourteen cervical stripes), but closely agrees with one of my Zebra mares when the shadow stripes are included. The shoulder stripe bifurcates higher up than in Matopo, and there are seven indistinct arches in the triangular space below the point of bifurcation. Behind the shoulder stripe there are nine (Plate III., fig. 1) fairly distinct vertical stripes instead of five, as in his sire (Plate I., fig. 1). Apparently corresponding to the three flank stripes so often seen in Burchell Zebras, there are in the hybrid three stripes in front of the stifle, which first run upwards and then arch backwards to end below the root of the tail (Plate III., fig. 1). In the triangular space between the first flank stripe and the ninth vertical body stripe are numerous narrow indistinct lines, some of which proceed towards the ventral band, while others join the first or great flank stripe. In line with these nearly transverse stripes there were at birth numerous spots arranged in nearly transverse rows over the loins and rump. Now that the hybrid is over a year old (Plate III., fig. 2) most of the spots have united to form somewhat zigzag narrow bands, almost identical in their direction with the narrow stripes over the hind quarters of the Somali Zebra. On the left side the blending of the spots has advanced further than on the right. Counting from the shoulder stripe to the root of the tail there are forty-three stripes in the hybrid,—about the same number as in the Somali Zebra; in Matopo there are only five transverse stripes behind the shoulder stripe (Plate I., fig. 1). It seems to me the blending of the spots over the hind quarters of Romulus goes a long way towards proving that stripes are in many cases first represented by spots or interrupted zigzag wavy line?. Between the stifle or third flank stripe and the point of the hock there are a number of dark bands (between some of which are shadow stripes), while below the hock there are first several distinct transverse bars, and then a number of less distinct oblique lines, right down to the hoof. Similar bars and lines occur on the fore-limb. These leg bars were at birth more distinct than in the Zebra sire. Continuous with the mane is a well-defined dorsal band (with a narrow yellow band at each side) which extends some distance into the tail. The tail in the hybrid had, at birth, long hairs right up to the root, but, notwithstanding this, there were three distinct bars visible at each side; similar tail bars I have once seen in a Horse.
Though the ears look long in some of the photographs, they are now relatively very little longer (though rounder at the apex) than in the majority of Horses. The nostrils, in their shape, position, &c, are Zebra-like, and the eyes and eyebrows may be said to be intermediate; but the eyelashes are long and curved, and quite unlike the short almost straight eyelashes of Zebras and Horses. The feet of Romulus suggest the Zebra more than the Horse. They seem to be made of excellent stuff, and to stand a good deal of wear. In his movements, the hybrid takes more after his sire than his dam. A few minutes after birth he was rushing about his box, impatient apparently to join the parental troop. What has struck me from the first has been his alertness and the expedition with which he escapes from suspicious or unfamiliar objects. When quite young, if caught napping in the paddock, the facility with which he, as it were, rolled on to his feet and darted off was wonderful. The principal enemy of the Zebra seems to be the Lion. To escape from the Lion, great and sustained speed is not so requisite as a decided and rapid bound when the Lion makes his spring, or when he is accidentally met with in the veld. This rapidity of getting out of the way has been strongly inherited by all the hybrids. Zebras, as far as my experience goes, are difficult to handle, not so much because they are vicious or intractable, as because they are afraid. At any moment they may be seized by panic,—when they imagine there is a Lion in the path,—and, regardless of consequences, rush, it may be, against a wall or a hedge, or into a ditch, reins and bits counting for little or nothing. In schooling the hybrids, this habit will require to be allowed for, and the tendency to bound or rush slowly combated. As it has been completely overcome by careful training in some Zebras, there should be comparatively little difficulty in breaking the hybrids. As a matter of fact. Romulus leads anywhere, is perfectly docile, allows his feet to be trimmed and his teeth to be examined, and, when little more than a year old, seemed quite willing to carry a small boy on his back.
I mentioned Mulatto is just under 13 hands, while the Zebra sire is nearly 12.3 hands. At birth (August 12th, 1896) Romulus measured 34½ in. (from the withers to the ground); at two months 38½ in.; at six months 43 in.; and at twelve months 45½ in. The rate of growth has been extremely inconstant,—e.g. from the 12th of February to the 12th of April he only increased half an inch, and from the 12th of June, 1897, to the 12th of September, 1897, he only increased three-quarters of an inch; but from the 12th of September, 1897, to the 12th of December, 1897, he increased one and a quarter inches. He now measures (January 12th) 47½ in., nearly 12 hands, and the circumference of the fore-shank is 6⅛ in., the knee being 10 in., and the girth 52½ in.
The foals of the black Island of Rum ponies are frequently of a mouse-dun colour, with at times an indistinct dorsal band, and a cloudy patch over the shoulder. Usually after the first coat is shed the pure-bred foals are dark brown, and later nearly black, with sometimes indistinct dappling over the flanks and hind quarters. As already mentioned, the body colour of Romulus at birth was chiefly of a yellow tint, the yellow approaching bright orange on the brow, while it approached a straw colour at the muzzle and below the knees and hocks. Under the neck and under the belly the prevailing body colour was dark brown, the ventral band being very indistinct.
The ears were lined with fine bright orange-coloured hairs. When only a month old, the hybrid began to shed his foal's coat. The light-coloured hairs began to drop out from the face and neck about the middle of September, and by the end of September he looked considerably darker. The yellow and also the dark brown hairs continued to fall out, except over the back, all through October, and by the middle of November only the orange-coloured lining of the ears was left to remind one of the rich coat he wore during the earlier weeks of his life. By the end of November the new coat was established. The bright orange facial bands were replaced by much paler bands, the muzzle was nearly brown in colour, the neck and body intermediate spaces approached a mouse-dun colour, while the lower parts of the legs were of a dark brown tint. From the withers to near the root of the tail the hair was especially long and thick. For a time the hair over the croup and the greater part of the rump was so much longer than the hair around the root of the tail that it looked as if part of the hind quarters had been previously clipped. The new coat consisted of a thick layer of woolly hair, from half an inch to nearly two inches in length, and of a less complete coat of stronger hairs, many of which were nearly three inches in length. Near their roots all the body hairs were light in colour, which implies that had the hybrid been clipped, there would have been little or no indication of stripes left. In the Zebra, on the other hand, the dark pigment extends to the roots of the hair, and hence, however short the hair may be, the banding is quite evident. Recently the skin around the root of Matopo's tail was injured, with the result that the hair, together with some of the epidermis, was shed; but even before the points of the new hair could be detected, the position of the dark bands was perfectly distinct. The skin of the Zebra has been described as uniformly black, even under the white bands; but it would be more accurate to say it is of a nearly uniform dark grey colour.
About the middle of March the long hairs began to drop out, and by the end of March they came away in handfuls. As the long hairs were shed from the body, the long hairs were shed from the upper half of the tail, with the result that for a time the tail of the hybrid was little better covered than the tail of his sire. By the end of May all the long hairs—light and dark—had vanished, and early in June the dark and mouse-coloured woolly hairs were coming out. By the 6th of June the dark lustreless winter coat had sufficiently gone around the base of the ears and above the eyes to indicate the colour of the summer coat. All through June and July the process of shedding continued, but by the 12th of August—the hybrid's first birthday—the summer coat was fully established. The dark stripes, which consisted chiefly of strong flattened hairs, looked very prominent. The intermediate bands were of a reddish brown colour over the brow, but elsewhere reminded one of the summer coat of a Stag. Taken as a whole Romulus was very decidedly darker as a yearling than during the early weeks of his existence.
As the long hairs were shed from the body and the root of the tail, numerous hairs dropped from the mane. In an ordinary mule (the foal of a New Forest pony) which I have had for some time, all the long hairs of the mane were shed last summer; but in Romulus, either some of the long hairs were retained, or the new hairs came in before the old ones were lost. At any rate, though the mane was shorter and less bulky and consequently more upright during August, it always consisted of numerous long hairs. At present the mane, which consists of wavy hairs from seven to nine inches in length, tends to fall slightly to one side,—the mane falls slightly to one side in some Zebras.
By the middle of September Romulus had again lost not a few of the brighter coloured hairs, and since then he has been getting again gradually darker. Probably because of the extreme mildness of the season the long hairs have already (January) begun to fall out in much the same way as they did last March.
All the experts who have seen Romulus agree in considering him a decided improvement on his sire, and more attractive and shapely than his dam. Having been handled from the first, he is, as a rule, extremely quiet. Occasionally, however, he clearly indicates he has plenty of courage and no lack of speed. At present he is particularly attached to a small thoroughbred mare. When separated from this mare he is sometimes as restless as his sire when upset by some change in his surroundings. Last week a strange Horse was galloped in the paddock where Romulus happened to be for the day. The hybrid became excited, and gave an excellent demonstration of his trotting and galloping powers, and of how proudly he could carry himself, and this continued for some time after the intruder left the field. Romulus was recently described by an excellent judge of Horses in the 'Scottish Farmer' as "a bonnie colt, with rare quality of bone, ... and with the dainty step and dignity of the Zebra." There is nothing about the hybrids, strange to say, that suggests the ordinary mule or hinny.
The Hybrid "Remus."
The dam of Remus is a three-parts bred, 14.1-hands Irish mare. "Biddy" has been in my possession since 1893, and is now nine years old. She is a bay, with black points, but no white hairs anywhere, and Remus is her first foal. She is a very gentle quiet creature, and has always been in excellent condition, winter and summer alike.
Evidently the Zebra, before coming here, had not made the acquaintance of any of his equine relatives. When first introduced to Mulatto, he rushed into a corner with his tail between his legs, and uttered peculiar little sounds which strongly suggested abject fear. Some of the ponies rushed at him open-mouthed; others deliberately pelted him with their heels. On the other hand, a bay Arab stallion and various mares could not have been more alarmed had he been a Tiger, or, when he called "Quacha," "Quacha," a troup of Lions. To give him a chance of discovering what sort of an animal a Horse is, I turned him loose one evening with a good-natured but very plucky bay Shetland pony. The pony proceeded to tease the Zebra, who very soon began to show fight. He was soon circling round the pony with the object of seizing her legs. For a time the pony was unprepared for this mode of attack, but ere long adopted similar tactics, with the result that the Zebra was several times brought to his knees. After a couple of hours the duel came to an end,—the damage being very slight on either side,—and ever afterwards Matopo and "Sheila" were excellent friends. But even during the spring of 1896 the Zebra was ridiculously timid, and even now a very small demonstration leads him to beat a hasty retreat. Biddy was the first fairly large animal he ventured to approach. One day I tied her up in a court about forty feet square, a cloth having been previously bound over her eyes. The Zebra in course of time ventured within a few yards; later he laid his head across her quarters, and then, for quite a long time, across her withers. He next licked her lips, and ended by gently nibbling at her ears. Evidently at length satisfied a big Horse was after all not so terrible an object, he retired to his box and finished his corn. Having once learned the peculiarities of a mare he never forgets them. Some of the mares he dislikes, while he is very fond of others, getting quite excited when they pass his own particular quarters. Donkeys, however, he completely refuses to take the smallest notice of.
Remus—born on the 18th of May, 1896—was, at birth, relatively smaller and far less active than Romulus; the period of gestation was three hundred and forty-six days. When a day old he measured 35½ in., his girth being 28 in. On the 18th of June he had increased to 38¾ in., the girth being 36 in. When six months old he measured 44⅞ in., the girth being 47½ in., the circumference at the knee 9¾ in., and below the knee 5¾ in. Romulus at six months was 42 in.
From the first Remus has been extremely friendly, and yet in some respects he is more Zebra-like than Romulus. For some days he was little more than a machine,—an automaton capable of following a moving object and of sucking. All the special sense organs were apparently at work, but the brain seemed incapable of making much use of the information collected. If I moved away he followed me, and sucked at my fingers or anything else offered him. He heard his dam when she called, but he was unable to discover whence the sound came, and when he saw her at a few yards distance he failed to recognize her. He seemed to like aloes and water quite as much as sugar and milk, and did not mind either strong smelling-salts or freshly-made mustard. Though he kicked aimlessly when pinched, he paid no heed to the application of either warm or very cold substances to his skin. When a dog was first introduced to Romulus, his excitement was intense. He rushed about at a furious rate, striking as opportunity offered with his fore-feet, and holding his head high and stepping high, as if moving through long grass, where other enemies might lie concealed. Remus, on the other hand, when two days old, allowed a yellow collie to lie down within six inches of his muzzle, and only got up as a Dalmatian approached when a warning note was uttered by his watchful parent. When the four hybrids and two pure-bred foals were eventually weaned, Remus seemed to mind very little. While one of the hybrids and a half Arab foal were biting and kicking and rushing about as if demented, Remus simply stood looking over the fence. But by-and-by, when the others settled down, he set to walking backwards and forwards behind the wall of his court, exactly like his Zebra sire, and though he still keeps this up as if he were a caged Lion, none of the others have followed his example. When Romulus was weaned, he for some days rushed about, as much as a Zebra when highly excited, as his sire when upset by the beating of carpets. Recently it was necessary to give the hybrids milk containing thymol. The pure-bred foals offered but little resistance, but all the hybrids fought till they were exhausted, and nothing would persuade Remus to swallow the first dose.
As might have been expected, Biddy's foal is much lighter in colour than Mulatto's. With the exception of the muzzle and the lower part of the legs, the body colour is a rich light bay; the muzzle and legs were, at birth, more of a mealy colour, but are now of a bay colour. The bands are much lighter, and consequently less distinct than in Romulus. As a rule they are of a dark reddish brown hue, being especially evident on the brow, the forearms, and above and below the hocks. The plan of the striping is the same as in Romulus; but even at birth several of the rows of spots across the croup had already united to form narrow bands. The face, measured from the occipital crest to a line connecting the upper margins of the nostrils, was slightly longer than in Romulus; but the ears were the same length—six inches.
Sometimes when a Horse utters a warning call all the members of the herd hurriedly collect together and rush about in an excited manner. It seems to be of the utmost importance for wild Equidæ to at once make out the direction of any given sound. Probably the longer the ears the quicker this is accomplished. If the length of the ears, as is most probable, counts for much, one can understand why they almost reach their full size at birth. Foals are given to straying in all directions, and unless they hear and at once recognize the call of their respective dams, and the direction from which the sound comes, their chances of surviving in a wild state would be greatly reduced. At birth, the ears of Romulus were longer than in his dam, and only slightly shorter than in his sire. In the case of Remus they were the same length as in his dam, viz. six inches along the inner aspect.
The eyes in Biddy's foal are hazel-coloured and gazelle-like in their mildness, and the eyelashes are particularly long and curved. The mane was at first made up of soft hairs, which bent over to the right side. The mane, however, soon assumed an upright position, and now, when nearly eight months old, it consists of nearly erect but not very stiff hairs. It looks as if the mane will always be as upright and as short as in his sire. The tail contains fewer hairs than any of the other hybrids, and has three bars across the root. On the other hand, unlike ordinary Mules, there are chestnuts on the hind legs as well as on the fore. The front chestnuts are large, level with the skin, and Zebra-like; the hind chestnuts are raised above the level of the skin, and, though narrow and only half an inch in length, are Horse-like. That the Zebras and Asses have no chestnuts on the hind legs may perhaps be due to the absence of chestnuts in their remote ancestors; their absence points, I think, to Asses and Zebras having sprung from a different ancestor (perhaps Hipparion) than the Horses, which may have descended straight from Protohippus. If Remus survives, he may reach a height of nearly 14 hands, and be the most handsome and fleetest of all the present crop of hybrids.
As in the case of Zebra foals, the hair over the back and hind quarters of Remus soon increased in length, and formed a thick woolly covering. The hair of the first coat usually falls off soonest from the face and neck, then from the legs, especially at the knees and above and below the hocks. Some of the hair was shed from the face by the end of the first month, but there was still some left on the muzzle and brow at the end of the third month, and the legs retained some of the foal's coat at the end of the fourth month. The second coat, which was completed by the end of the fifth month (i.e. about the middle of October), consists of a thick inner coat of bay and brown fine wavy hairs, averaging an inch and a half in length, and of an outer but much less abundant coat of stronger hairs, many of which are 2½ in. in length. Neither the long nor short hairs nor the hairs of the mane have yet (January) begun to fall out.
The Hybrid "Brenda."
The dam ("Lady Douglas") of Brenda is a cross-bred Clydesdale mare, built on the lines of the "Douglas" breed, once common in the Hamilton district. Like Biddy, she is a bay with black points, but, unlike the Irish mare, she has a large "blaze" on the face, a heavy mane and tail, and a liberal amount of hair at the fetlock joints. Lady Douglas is 15 hands high, the circumference at the knee is 13½ in., and below the knee 9 in. The face is longer than in Biddy by nearly an inch, and the ears by three-quarters of an inch. I expected Brenda (the Clydesdale's first foal) to closely resemble Remus in colour and markings, but in breeding, more especially in cross-breeding, the unexpected often happens. We are too apt to forget that, even when the sire belongs to a different and very distinct species, the progeny may take after the cross-bred dam. It was evident soon after Brenda (Plate II., fig. 2) was foaled that she differed not a little both from Romulus and Remus. In the first place her ears looked extremely long; they were at birth 6½ in., only a quarter of an inch shorter than the ears of her dam, and quite as long as the ears of her sire. The ears now measure seven and a half inches; on the other hand the head is relatively short—shorter than the head of a 12-hands Iceland pony's hybrid. The height at the withers was 43 in., one inch more than in Remus, and four inches more than in the Iceland hybrid. At birth Brenda, apart from her ears, looked not unlike an ordinary bay foal, but soon faint stripes began to show themselves, and in a day or two the stripes, though indistinct, were seen to closely agree in their arrangement with those of the other hybrids. Now that the "Clydesdale" hybrid is nearly seven months old, she at a little distance might easily be mistaken for an ordinary foal. Compared with Remus the head is shorter and finer, while the joints are larger and the shanks thicker. At six months the circumference at the knee was 10¼ in., and below the knee 6⅛ in.—almost exactly the same as in Romulus when seventeen months old. The mane, at first nearly upright, short and Zebra-like, is now made up of hairs from eight to ten inches in length (nearly as long as in an ordinary foal of the same age). Except near the withers and between the ears the mane arches freely to the right side, some of the hairs almost touching the neck. The hair between the ears already projects forwards to form a forelock. In Remus, as already mentioned, the mane is still upright, and shorter than in his sire. The tail in Brenda has also from the first been heavier than in any other of the hybrids, and fewer hairs have been shed from its base; further, almost from the first there have been a few hairs at the fetlock joints. The hairs around the small ergots are now over two inches in length.
The chestnuts on the fore legs in the Zebra are large and smooth, and on a level with the skin; in Romulus and Remus they are also large, and hardly if at all above the level of the skin, but they occasionally give off thin scales. In Brenda the front chestnuts, though relatively nearly as large as in a Zebra, project as far above the level of the skin as in a pure Clydesdale foal. The left hind leg carries a small prominent chestnut about a quarter of an inch in diameter, but there is no rudiment of a chestnut on the right hind leg. The hoofs are the hoofs of a Zebra, and considerably smaller than would be the hoofs of a Clydesdale foal of the same age. They are wide behind and rounded in front, but the bars are relatively short, i.e. they do not extend as far back as the frog. I may add, the nostrils are in their shape a little less Zebra-like than in the other hybrids; that the muzzle suggests the dam more than the sire, the lower lip being, as in the dam, somewhat long; and that the rounded ears are tipped with white, as is occasionally the case in dun ponies as well as in Zebras. As might have been expected, the trunk and hind quarters are more massive than in Remus, while the shoulders are less upright, and perhaps as a consequence of this the action at all times is less Zebra-like than in any of the other hybrids. As fig. 2 (PI. II.) indicates, there is a "swirl" nearly three inches in length extending down the centre of the face between the eyes. The same figure also indicates fairly well the extent of the marking at the end of the second month. The brow arches (hardly visible in the figure) are nearly as pointed as the frontal arches in a Norwegian pony in my possession, and as in the Amsterdam Quagga. This is very remarkable, as in all the other hybrids the brow stripes form rounded arches. The cervical, and in fact all the other stripes as far as they go, agree with the corresponding stripes of Romulus. In the region of the shoulder the markings are very faint, and over the hind quarters only a few indistinct spots and portions of bands can be detected. The lower parts of the legs are only faintly striped, and even the bars across the forearm and the hock are more obscure than usual. But although none of the stripes are very pronounced, there are, strange to say, faint lines between several of the cervical and vertical body-stripes. These lines suggest "shadow" stripes, and seem to correspond to some of the numerous indistinct vertical stripes seen in Zebra-Ass hybrids. In having faint intermediate vertical stripes, this, on the whole, Horse-like hybrid may be said to be, in at least one respect, more primitive (to have reverted further) than either of the other hybrids already described. If this hybrid continues to thrive, she ought to grow into a powerful, active, shapely cob, about fourteen hands in height, hardier and with more staying power than an ordinary mule.
The Hybrid "Norna."
The most attractive of last summer's crop of hybrids has for its dam a good-looking 11-hands Shetland pony ("Nora"). This pony, which will be six years old in the spring, had a foal in 1895 to a small black prize Shetland pony ("Wallace"). Nora is in many ways a small edition of Mulatto, and her foal Norna may be said to be a small edition of Romulus. When a few days old Norna, in her colouring, movements, and make, was more fascinating than Romulus at a similar age; and now that she has increased from thirty inches (her height when foaled on June 8th) to nearly forty-one inches she looks (notwithstanding her single hoofs) as if she belonged to some bygone age. Norna has been from the first more intelligent than any of her contemporaries, and always very much on the alert without being at all nervous or frightened. She followed her dam through a crowd of some thousands of people on Jubilee Day without any hesitation, or evincing any signs of fear, and she now leads quietly and allows herself to be measured without offering any resistance. At birth Norna generally resembled Romulus, both in colouring, markings, and shape; but her head was relatively smaller, and the ears relatively shorter. There was, however, a very important and interesting difference between Norna and the other hybrids. As already pointed out, the croup and rump of Romulus were at the outset marked by numerous rows of spots having on the whole a transverse direction. When his new coat was completed, in August last, I noticed that many of the spots had united to form somewhat zigzag bands that in their direction agreed closely with the stripes on the hind quarters of the Somali Zebra. In Norna, instead of spots over the hind quarters, there were from the first numerous narrow and hardly at all wavy stripes, which line for line almost agreed with the markings in the Somali Zebra. But, further, many of these all but transverse stripes reached, or all but reached, a stripe running obliquely across the hind quarters in almost the same position as the oblique stripe in the Somali Zebra which I have elsewhere referred to as the upper femoral stripe. The remarkable difference between the markings over the hind quarters of Norna and her sire Matopo, and the equally remarkable resemblance between these markings in Norna and the Somali Zebra, seem to me to throw a flood of light on the relationships of the stripes in the various species and varieties of Zebras, and at the same time strongly to support the view already advanced, that the difference between the stripes of the sire and his various hybrid offspring is in all probability due to atavism or reversion. If this is the correct explanation, it follows as a matter of course that at least in the markings the Somali is the most primitive of all the known recent Zebras.
That the hybrids have reverted in at least their markings towards a somewhat remote ancestor—it may be a common ancestor of both the Horses and Zebras—is also indicated by the presence of faint "shadow" stripes on the neck. From Matopo having twelve cervical stripes and some Zebras having in addition nine or ten "shadow" stripes, and from Romulus having twice as many stripes as Matopo, it may be inferred the typical number of cervical stripes in Zebras is twenty-four or thereabout. But in Norna, in addition to the twenty-four cervical stripes, there were at least five faint "shadow" stripes. In Zebra-Ass hybrids there are usually many indistinct stripes on the neck and body, and numerous spots over the hind quarters. I consider Zebra-Ass hybrids more primitive in their markings than Zebra-Horse hybrids. In having numerous cervical stripes Norna approaches Zebra-Ass hybrids, and the only explanation of this that occurs to me is that in Norna we have, in the striping of the neck, a further reversion than in any of the other hybrid offspring of Matopo.
During the first three months the mane of Norna was quite upright, though thicker than in the other hybrids. During the last four months the mane has been increasing in length, and it is now no longer upright; the posterior half hangs over to the right side, the part between and in front of the ears forms a thick forelock, while the intermediate portion hangs to the left side.
Norna with her short head, peculiarly tattooed face, and the heavy mane hanging partly to one side and partly to the other, looks very quaint, and seems to differ quite as much from her sire as she does from her dam the black Shetland pony. The coat is now very heavy, the long hairs over the body measuring over three inches, while many of the hairs over the brow are nearly two inches in length. If Norna develops after the fashion of Romulus, she will—a year hence—be a compact small striped pony from 11 to 11.2 hands in height. As is the case with Romulus, there is nothing about Norna that suggests either an ordinary mule or a hinny. She has excellent well-formed feet, only a few short hairs at the fetlock, and not a rudiment of warts on the hind legs.
The Hybrid "Heckla."
Heckla's dam is a 12-hands skewbald Iceland pony. There is so much white in this pony (Tundra) and the yellow is so pale that I thought her hybrid foal would be nearly as light as a pure-bred Zebra. As it happens, Heckla is the darkest of all the hybrids, and the stripes are nearly as obscure as in the "Clydesdale" hybrid Brenda. As she lay by her dam shortly after birth, she looked like an overgrown Hare with an unusually long head and relatively long ears. From the first her coat has consisted of long coarse hairs, and the warts on the front legs are prominent, as in her dam. Measuring 32½ in. at birth, she was 43 in. at six months, and is now (January 12th) 43½ in.; the circumference of the knee being 9½ in., and the fore-shank 5½ in. Though Heckla has always carried a heavy coat, and is dark in colour with white tips to her ears, she generally agrees with Romulus in her build and markings; but her action is freer, and more like that of a hackney than a Zebra. She promises to be quite as large and as active as Romulus, and more able than Romulus to withstand cold and to flourish under adverse circumstances.
The length of the head and the shortness of the neck suggest that the Iceland ponies belong to a different race than the black Oriental-looking West Highland ponies. They may be direct descendents of the Horses hunted by the men of the Reindeer Period. Their ancestors may have gradually worked their way northwards with the Tundra fauna which then as now lived near the edge of the ice. If Heckla owes her dark colour to reversion, it may be inferred her ancestors were of a mouse-dun colour.
It is too soon to offer any opinion as to whether Romulus or any of the Zebra-mare hybrids will prove fertile or specially useful either at home or abroad, and it is equally impossible to say whether they will withstand the African Tsetse fly, or have better constitutions than either ordinary mules or Asses, but this much may be said, they all seem very hardy. Romulus has been in perfect health from the first, as indeed has been his Zebra sire, while nearly all my mares and Horses have had colds and other ailments. Quite recently the four hybrid foals and three ordinary foals have been suffering from the presence of Strongylus armata. One of the pure-bred foals (Mulatto's second foal to an Arab Horse) died from the effects of the parasite on the 1st of January, and a thoroughbred foal has been reduced almost to a skeleton; but the four young hybrids, though no longer so bright or in so good condition, are evidently rapidly recovering, and will, I trust, be soon all right again.
The editor of the 'Scottish Farmer' believes Romulus "will be invaluable for driving or riding on account of his hardiness," and he has stated that all the hybrids "have feet and legs like whalebone, with the kind of pasterns that Clydesdale men fancy." It is well known that Captain Lugard and Major von Wissmann have advocated steps being taken to breed Zebra hybrids.
Captain Lugard, in his work on 'Our East African Empire,' writes:—"Some years ago I advocated experiments on taming the Zebra, and I especially suggested that an attempt should be made to obtain Zebra mules by Horse or Donkey mares. Such mules I believe would be found excessively hardy and impervious to the 'fly' and to climatic diseases.... I would even go further and say that their export might prove one of the sources of wealth and revenue in the future; for, as every one knows, the paucity of mules both for mountain batteries and for transport purposes has long been one of the gravest difficulties in our otherwise almost perfect Indian Army Corps." Since this was written much information has been gained as to the dreaded Tsetse fly, but apparently there is extremely little chance of Horses being made immune, being so treated by innoculation or otherwise that they will be able to survive if once infected by the peculiar minute organism so intimately associated with the all too fatal disease.
Further, owing to the destruction of cattle by the rinderpest, the transport difficulties have been increased in Africa, while the Frontier wars have enormously increased the demand for mules in India. On the other hand, it has been proved that it is a comparatively simple matter to cross various breeds of mares with a Burchell Zebra, and if experts are to be trusted the hybrids (Zebra-mules as some call them) promise to be as useful and hardy as they are shapely and attractive. The preliminary difficulties having been overcome, it remains for those in authority to take such steps as may be necessary to ascertain of what special use, if any, Zebra hybrids may be in the various parts of the Empire, but more especially in Africa and India.
As I am anxious to obtain as much information as possible bearing on equine hybrids—on crosses between Zebras, Horses and Asses—and as to the fertility of the various kinds of hybrids (mules, hinnies, &c), I shall be most grateful for accounts of any experiments hitherto made, more especially with Burchell and other kinds of Zebra. I have not yet heard of ordinary mares having been crossed with Burchell's Zebra in South Africa; but doubtless some of the readers of 'The Zoologist' may be able to give me information on this subject.
- ↑ 'Veterinarian,' November, 1897.
- ↑ Further particulars as to Mulatto, the dam of Romulus, will be found in the 'Veterinarian' for November, 1896.
- ↑ He was weaned on the 14th of February, and fretted not a little for some time after.
- ↑ During the greater part of this period he was shedding his old and growing a new coat.
- ↑ I may mention that when his legs are touched with a rope or stick he almost invariably drops on to his knees, or lies down altogether. This is, I think, the result of his having been periodically thrown before he came here that his hoofs might be looked to.
- ↑ See the 'Veterinarian,' December, 1897.
- ↑ 'Scottish Farmer,' Nov. 27, 1897.
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