RECORD: Martin, W. 1837. Observations on three specimens of the genus Felis presented to the Society by Charles Darwin, Esq., Corr. Memb. Z. S. Proceedings of the Zoological Society of London 5:  3-4.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed (single key) by AEL Data 9.2010. RN1


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Mr. Martin directed the attention of the Meeting to three specimens of the genus Felis, recently presented to the Society by Charles Darwin, Esq. One of these appeared to be a cat of the domestic race, shot in a wild state at Maldonado, differing only from our common cat in the elongation and greater size of the head. The second was the "Chat Pampa" of Azara, Felis Pajeros of Desmarest, shot at Bahia Blanca in latitude 33. The third and most interesting specimen, which had been shot at Buenos Ayres, Mr. Martin was disposed to consider as the Yagourondi or a closely allied species, since it agrees with that animal in its elongate form, stout limbs and small head, but differs from it in the greater proportionate length of tail, and also in its entire dimensions, as recorded by Desmarest, who gives the following:

ft. in. lin.
Length from nose to the root of the tail. 1 11 0
Length of tail 1 1 9
Length from nose to the ear 0 3 2
In the present specimen, which is evidently adult, the measurements were found to be as follows:
ft. in. lin.
Length from nose to root of tail 2 2 0
—— of tail 1 8 0
—— from nose to ear 0 3 9
Height at shoulders 0 11 6
—— at haunches 1 0 6
Length of ear 0 1 2
Breadth of ear 0 1 6
From nose to eye 0 1 2

The hair is black, annulated with ochre, and sometimes with whitish yellow; each hair is pale brown at the base and then alternately black and yellow, the colours being repeated two or three times.

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Upon the head the yellow colour is most prevalent. The under fur is thick and of a pale brown colour. The hair is about the same length or rather shorter than in the domestic cat, and much harsher to the touch. The hind feet are black beneath from the heel to the toes, and there is a streak of black about an inch and a half in length, passing upwards from the front paw on the outer side. The hair of the tail is long and bushy; the legs thick and moderately long; the general form is slender; the head small in proportion to the body, and considerably arched above. The region of the anterior angle of the eye is black, with a yellowish white spot immediately above it. The eyes are very small; the ears short, broad, and obtusely pointed, thickly covered with hair, which on the outside is of a similar colour to that on the top of the head, excepting at the tip, where it is margined with black. Inside the ears the hair is of a paler hue. The under parts of the body are of the same general hue as the sides. The tail is of the same general colour as the body, but the hairs become gradually less annulated towards the tip, their basal portions being brown and the apices black; the under side is of a somewhat paler hue than the upper. The lips and nose are black.

Mr. Martin remarked, that there was some reason for supposing two species were confounded under the same name, for he was aware of the existence of a cat with a shorter tail, agreeing very closely with Azara’s description of the Yagourondi. Without, however, being in possession of more ample materials he did not like to characterize the present specimen as a new species, but in the event of its ultimately being considered distinct, he proposed that it should be called Felis Darwinii.

Mr. James Reid read some notes on several quadrupeds, also from the collection of Mr. Darwin, including a new species of Opossum, which he characterized as Didelphis hortensis*. He also noticed a very young specimen of the Viscache, Lagostomus trichodactylus of Brooks. This example, not much larger than our common Rat, differs from the adult in wanting the ridge of stiff black hairs over the eyes so conspicuous in old specimens, and in wanting also the grooves on the teeth.

Mr. Gould exhibited from Mr. Darwin’s collection of Birds, a series of Ground Finches, so peculiar in form that he was induced to regard them as constituting an entirely new group, containing 14 species, and appearing to be strictly confined to the Galapagos Islands. Mr. Gould believed the whole of these Birds to be undescribed, and remarked that their principal peculiarity consisted in the bill presenting several distinct modifications of form, while the general contour of the species closely assimilated. He proposed to characterize them under the separate generic appellations of Geospiza, Camarhynchus, Cactornis, and Certhidea.

*The characters of species newly described which have not yet been furnished by the respective authors, andare the refore necessarily omitted, will be inserted, if subsequently sent in, at the termination of the volume.


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Citation: John van Wyhe, editor. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (http://darwin-online.org.uk/)

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