RECORD: Anon. 1871. [Review of Descent]. Herald of Health (New York), vol. 18, no. 5 (November): 224.

REVISION HISTORY: Transcribed by Christine Chua and edited by John van Wyhe. 7.2021. RN1

[page] 224

Darwin tells some wonderful stories about the intellect of animals in his great work on "The Descent of Man," but none of them beat the one told by The Panama Star of the sagacity of a dog the editor knows of. "When tho dog wishes to cross a river where alligators abound, he goes up the stream a great way and barks with all his might; the alligators go there and wait for him to get in and swim across. The dog knows what he is about; when he sees from the number of snouts above water that his enemies have all gathered to the feast, he runs down the bank as fast as he can, and swims across before the alligators are aware of the trick that has been played upon them."

We can believe this statement about as well as the following one from Darwin's book before mentioned (Vol. I., page 41. English Edition): One female baboon had so capacious a heart that she not only adopted young monkeys of other species, but stole young dogs and  cats which she continually carried about. Her kindness, however, did not go so far as to share her food with her adopted offspring, at which Brehur was surprised, as his monkeys always divided every thing quite fairly with their own young ones. An adopted kitten scratched the above mentioned affectionate baboon, who certainly had a fine intellect, for she was much astonished at being scratched, and immediately examined the kitten's feet, and, without more ado, bit off the claws!"

But this relates to baboons, so let us have one of Mr. Darwin's dog stories of which his book is full. Here is one case: "I will give one case with respect to dogs, as it rests on two distinct observers and can hardly depend on the modification of any instinct. Mr. Colquhoun winged two wild ducks which fell on the opposite side of a stream. Hiss retriever tried to bring over both at once, but could not succeed. She then, though never before known to ruffle a feather deliberately killed one, brought over the other, and then returned for the dead bird."

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Citation: John van Wyhe, ed. 2002-. The Complete Work of Charles Darwin Online. (

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