CHAPTER IX. HYBRIDISM.
2. DEGREES OF STERILITY. (continued)
Although I know of hardly any thoroughly well-authenticated cases of
perfectly fertile hybrid animals, I have reason to believe that the hybrids
from Cervulus vaginalis and Reevesii, and from Phasianus colchicus with P.
torquatus, are perfectly fertile. M. Quatrefages states that the hybrids
from two moths (Bombyx cynthia and arrindia) were proved in Paris to be
fertile inter se for eight generations. It has lately been asserted that
two such distinct species as the hare and rabbit, when they can be got to
breed together, produce offspring, which are highly fertile when crossed
with one of the parent-species. The hybrids from the common and Chinese
geese (A. cygnoides), species which are so different that they are
generally ranked in distinct genera, have often bred in this country with
either pure parent, and in one single instance they have bred inter se.
This was effected by Mr. Eyton, who raised two hybrids from the same
parents, but from different hatches; and from these two birds he raised no
less than eight hybrids (grandchildren of the pure geese) from one nest.
In India, however, these cross-bred geese must be far more fertile; for I
am assured by two eminently capable judges, namely Mr. Blyth and Captain
Hutton, that whole flocks of these crossed geese are kept in various parts
of the country; and as they are kept for profit, where neither pure
parent-species exists, they must certainly be highly or perfectly fertile.
With our domesticated animals, the various races when crossed together are
quite fertile; yet in many cases they are descended from two or more wild
species. From this fact we must conclude either that the aboriginal
parent-species at first produced perfectly fertile hybrids, or that the
hybrids subsequently reared under domestication became quite fertile. This
latter alternative, which was first propounded by Pallas, seems by far the
most probable, and can, indeed, hardly be doubted. It is, for instance,
almost certain that our dogs are descended from several wild stocks; yet,
with perhaps the exception of certain indigenous domestic dogs of South
America, all are quite fertile together; but analogy makes me greatly
doubt, whether the several aboriginal species would at first have freely
bred together and have produced quite fertile hybrids. So again I have
lately acquired decisive evidence that the crossed offspring from the
Indian humped and common cattle are inter se perfectly fertile; and from
the observations by Rutimeyer on their important osteological differences,
as well as from those by Mr. Blyth on their differences in habits, voice,
constitution, etc., these two forms must be regarded as good and distinct
species. The same remarks may be extended to the two chief races of the
pig. We must, therefore, either give up the belief of the universal
sterility of species when crossed; or we must look at this sterility in
animals, not as an indelible characteristic, but as one capable of being
removed by domestication.