Among the varied races of living beings which inhabit this world, none perhaps have excited so much speculation and general interest, as those to which we have devoted our present little volume. From the shy and retired manners of the animals in a wild state, their habits are of difficult investigation, and would require much patience, and a greater allowance of time, than it is often possible for those individuals who possess the enviable opportunities, to devote to them. The greater portion of the information we possess, is therefore derived from the accounts of travellers, too often collected from hearsay evidence, exaggerated as the fears and superstitions of the natives have been influenced, and which have appeared as “dreamy forms”
“That the soul sees–and, we suppose, the eyes.”
We are mostly aware how easily the minds of many native tribes are wrought upon; and it can scarcely be a matter of surprise, that traditions* (* Such as those of the Fesse and Goolock), should exist, with accounts of the prowess, sagacity, or cruelty of these creatures. Occasional glimpses of an animal clothed in shaggy hair, of gigantic size, with tusks rivaling those of the largest and most ferocious beasts of prey;-possessing a hideous resemblance of countenance and general proportions to man, and assuming positions somewhat human, would present to an untutored mind, a chaos of sensations, whose impressions scarcely could be afterwards detailed; while one of higher cultivation might combine doubts of their animal or human nature, and add to either the brutal or malignant qualities of both. And it is under such inflences, fear predominating, that the accounts of their concerted attacks, their carrying off negroes for slaves, distribution of the different sexes, and of their cruelty and carnivorous propensities, have been handed down with embellishments by the older historians.
In other countries, superstition exercises her influence. India, so horribly celebrated by the sacrifices of its infatuated devotees, is in some districts no less so for its weak and extravagant idolatry. In Ahmenadab, hospitals have been erected for the benefit of apes, where thousands are kept in fancied ease and indulgence; and another city, which was taken by General Geddart in 1780, upon its surrender contained forty thousand inhabitants, and as many monkeys. They are even worshipped by the Brahmins, and are raised to the rank of gods. Gorgeous temples are erected,
“With pious care a monkey to enshrine!”
Mofleus, in his History of India, describes one of great magnificence-it was fronted by a portico for receiving victims sacrificed to it, which was supported by no less than 700 columns; and Linschotten relates, that when the Portuguese plundered one of these monkey palaces, in the island of Ceylon, they found, in a little gold casket, the tooth of an ape; a relic held by the natives in such veneration, that they offered seven hundred thousand ducats to redeem it.-It was, however, burnt by the Viceroy, to stop the progress of idolatry. Among the ancient Egyptians, they also seem to have been held in more than ordinary reverence, or at least to have borne a rank equal to that of the sacred ibis. They were like them represented in the sculptures, and their bodies were preserved as mummies.
We cannot, however, class under such infatuation, the idea which, even in comparatively modern times, prevailed among men who possessed great learning, and minds at once comprehensive and penetrating; “that men and monkeys belonged to the same species, and were no otherwise distinguished from each other, than by circumstances which can be accounted for by the different physical or moral agencies to which, they have been exposed.”* (* Monboddo, Rousseau, Lamark). And we can only consider them in the words of an eminent anatomist, as “equally unacquainted with the structure and functions of men and monkeys, not conversant with zoology and physiology, and therefore entirely destitute of the principles on which alone a sound judgment can be formed, concerning the natural capabilities and destiny of animals, as well as the laws according to which certain changes of character, certain departures from the original stock, may take place.
Seeing, then, that the information handed down to us regarding this singular family, has been in many instances exaggerated and misrepresented, we shall endeavour, in the following pages, to detail what can be depended upon, making use of the discoveries and researches of the modern naturalists who have travelled aware of the doubtful points, and were competent by their previous studies, for the task of unraveling them; while the anatomy of these animals, which approach nearest in their structure to that of man will be taken from the able examinations which have been made by Geoffroy Saint Hilaire, Fred. Cuvier, Dr. Trail, and last year by Messrs Owen and Yarrel.
Modern zoologists have applied to this family, consisting of two great divisions, the title of Quadrumanous, or four-handed, from their generally possessing thumbs, or members opposable to the fingers of both the fore and hind limbs, which enables them to grasp any object firmly with either, and renders them expert climbers. The most casual stroller through a menagerie, must be immediately struck with the surprising agility, the powerful leaps and swings, and the complete gliding ease, with which all these motions are performed; and an observer in their natural abodes will soon arrive at the conclusion, that their habits are strictly arboreal, and that their economy is intimately connected with the boundless forests of the tropics. They are in fact seldom seen at any distance from woods, and the species which inhabit craggy precipices, such as those in the neighbourhood of the Cape of Good Hope, in Barbary, and about Gibraltar, deviate from the type, become more quadruped in their form and actions, and have therefore always been placed last in our systems.
Their true and natural abodes are the trackless forests, which so richly clothe the countries under the tropics, and which alike supply them with food, and protect them from the heat of those scorching climes. During the middle period of the day, these forests are filled with the animal world, courting their grateful shades, silent and resting; and it is only in some deep deep glade, “afraid to glitter in the noontide beams,” that the screams of an awakened parrot, or gambols of a monkey, disturb the universal solitude. So soon, however, as a declining sun and the evening breezes reduce the overpowering feelings, do the inhabitants of those vast nurseries resume the exercise of their daily routine, and none among them occupy a more conspicuous place than this family. The more timorous attract the observer’s attention by their endeavours of concealment; and the protrusion of numerous little heads, with bright and searching eyes, from behind the thick boughs and foliage, plainly tells that curiosity almost overbalances the fear of self-preservation. The more forward again, force attention by the shower of rotten branches, fruit, flowers, and nuts, and sometimes materials of a less agreeable kind, that are either directed against, or unintentionally fall near, the object which thus attracts the attention of this prying assembly; while the annoyed feelings of the spectator soon give way to admiration, at the light and airy gambols of those which think themselves beyond the reach of danger, or are amused at the grimaces, and grotesque attitudes, and half threats of those in the immediate vicinity. This interval of activity in the tropical forest, lasts for a comparatively short period; a few morning and evening hours of milder heat, are sufficient to satisfy all their wants; the blaze of a vertical sun, or a short twilight, again obliges them to seek a covering from its beams, or a place of rest and security from depredators, whose turn it now is to satisfy the cravings of nature.
But there are some tribes inhabiting South America, which reverse this order, and are nocturnal in their habits. Some of the larger species remaining in complete inactivity during daylight, come forth at night, and make the forest resound with their yells and howling. Speaking of the Red Howler, an eccentric writer observes,-“Nothing can sound more dreadful than its nocturnal howlings. While lying in your hammock in those gloomy and immeasurable wilds, you hear him howling at intervals from eleven o’clock at night till daybreak. You would suppose that half the wild beasts of the forest were collecting for the work of carnage. Now it is the tremendous roar of the jaguar, as he springs on his prey; now it changes to his terrible deep-toned growlings, as he is pressed on all sides by superior force; and now you hear his last dying moan beneath a mortal wound.”* (*Waterton’s Wanderings, 8vo. edit. 305).
A deep and dark evergreen, or the hollow of some decaying tree, like the “shrouded owls,” are the abodes during the day of other small species; and, when removed from their dormitory, a dreamy motion and piteous wailing, are the only exertions which announce that their rest has been disturbed, or their feelings incommoded. During the night, on the contrary, they are all energy.
The food of this family may be called almost entirely vegetable. The accounts of their love for animal food, and relish for that of human beings, as related by Neiuhoff,* (*”The province of Fohier hath an animal perfectly resembling man, but longer armed, and hairy all over, called Fesse, most swift and greedy after human flesh, which, that he may better take his prey, he feigneth laughter, and suddenly while the person stands listening, seizeth upon him.”) can only be traced to the same sources with the other unsubstantiated reports concerning them, and become naturally associated, in the minds of the inhabitants, with the hideous forms and immense tusks of the larger species. The forest will supply them with nourishment, in the endless variety of fruits and nuts, roots and juicy shrubs. Insects are also greedily devoured by all, and as expertly caught.* (* A curious manner of feeding, is thus related by Ludolf in his History of Ethiopia:-“Of apes there are infinite flocks up and down in the mountains, a thousand and more together. There they leave no stone unturned. If they meet with one that two or three cannot lift, they call for more aid, and all for the sake of the worms that lie under–a sort of diet which they relish exceedingly. They are very greedy after emmets. So that having found an emmet hill, they presently surround it, and laying their fore paws, with the hollow downwards, upon the ant heap, as fast as the emmets creep into their treacherous palms, they lick them off with great comfort to their stomachs; and there they will lie till there is not an emmet left.”) The stores of the wild bees furnish another repast, and the eggs, and occasionally the young of birds, is the only approach which can be traced to a carnivorous propensity.
There are some accounts of the orangs feeding on crabs and shellfish; but we are not sure of the authority whence they have been obtained. Gemelli Carreri tells us, that the orangs descend from the mountains when the fruits are exhausted, where they feed on various shellfish, but particularly on a large species of oyster. “Fearful of putting in their paws, lest the oyster should close and crush them, they insert a stone within the shell, which prevents it from closing, and then drag out their prey and devour it at leisure!”
In those districts where cultivation has advanced, they become exceedingly troublesome, and from their numbers do no inconsiderable injury to the foreign husbandman; an amiable poet thus mentions their depredations among the sugar groves:-
“Destructive, on the upland sugar groves
The monkey nation preys; from rocky heights,
In silent parties, they descend by night,
And posting watchful sentinels, to warn
When hostile steps approach; with gambols, they
Pour o’er the cane grove. Luckless he to whom
That land pertains!”
In like manner, when a remission of watchfulness occurs, do they plunder the maize fields, and rob the orchards of their choicest fruits; “they are so impudent, that they will come into the gardens and eat such sorts of fruit as grow there,” says Knox;* (*Knox’s Ceylon) and Thunberg relates, that such is the superstitious respect in which the Entellus monkey is held by the natives, that whatever ravages they may commit, they dare not venture to destroy them. Emboldened by this impunity, they come down from the woods in large herds, and take possession of the husbandman’s toil, with as little ceremony, as though it had been collected for their use.
In a state of confinement, vegetable diet continues their favourite and most nourishing support; but they will eat almost anything that the luxury of man has introduced, and some even become remarkable for their peculiarities. Among the greater part of them, the love of wine or diluted spirits becomes almost a passion; they are often offered as a bribe to the performance of various tricks, and they will always be greedily drunk when left within reach. Vosmaer’s orang, one day when loose, commenced its exploits by finishing a bottle of Malaga wine. Happy Jerry, the ribbed nose baboon in Exeter Change, performed all his tricks upon the anticipation of a glass of gin and water; and the relish and expression with which it was taken, would have done honour to the most accomplished taster.
Nearly the whole family are gregarious,* (*Pithecia chiropotes, Humb., and a few other species, live in pairs) and troops of many hundreds together may be seen in the forest glades and openings, or upon the banks of the noble rivers, which,
“Shaded and rolling on through sunless solitudes,” form almost the only passages in those vast countries.
Wherever we peruse the journeys of travellers, who have explored the interior of the tropics, we find accounts of almost innumerable bands which crowd the wooded banks, doubtless astonished at such visiters, and exhibiting every attitude and grimace, that the impulses of fear and caution can supply. In general, they live together in harmony, unless when slightly disturbed by rivalry after some favourite supply of food, in which cases, the love and knowledge of power is fully shown and exercised by the strong over their weaker companions. Intruders of any other species are either expelled, or, if too powerful, are chattered at with all their natural petulance, and stolen opportunities are watched, to pilfer the attracting store, or annoy the unwelcome aggressor.
Their breeding-places are various-cloven trees, perhaps a forsaken nest which has already reared a feathered progeny-rocks, thickets of brush, and rank grassy herbage, all afford sheltered nursing places. The young, seldom more than two, are attended with the greatest care and anxiety by the female; and long after they are able to follow their troop, on the approach of danger, will attach themselves to the parent, who will encounter almost anything in their defence, and who, from the utmost timidity, becomes fierce and reckless of every opponent. It is singular, however, that in confinement the very reverse most frequently takes place; and when these animals have, with great care and attention, been productive, the offspring was immediately left, and the greatest apathy exhibited. Under every advantage Frederic Cuvier was unsuccessful twice, and found it impossible to preserve the young beyond a few hours.* (*The Ouistiti produced three in confinement, and nursed them with great attention. See our description of that species.)
In geographical distribution, the quadrumanous order presents some curious examples. That part of them to which this volume is devoted, is found in three divisions of the world, and is entirely confined to the warmer parts. Europe, with one exception, which merely skirts its southern border, and North America, are without them, from the unsuitable nature of the climate; and among the various anomalous forms peculiar to New Holland, and the vast archipelago of the Southern Ocean, scarcely one approaches to any resemblance. The smaller formed long tailed monkeys (which constitute the numerous family of Guenons in the systems,) of mild disposition and playful manner and generally clothed with a fur of considerable beauty, are in a general way distributed over Africa and India; among these, however, the genus Semnopithecus of F. Cuvier, seems exclusively Indian, while, with few exceptions, the Cercopitheci of the same naturalist, and Cercocebi of Geoffroy, inhabit Africa. The most typical forms in the zoology of these countries, are, in the last; the baboons, or Cynocephali, more bestial in all their forms and habits, and deviating from the quadrumanous type. In one or two aberrant instances they reach India, and the Barbary ape passes the European boundary, and may be looked on as the extreme limit of the family in that direction. The form again most typical to India, is seen in the long armed apes or Gibbons, (Hylobates, Illiger,) approaching the orangs somewhat in structure, found exclusively in the islands and continent, stretching northward in the Chinese dominions, but not existing in any land that can be allied to the continent of Africa.
The Indian islands possess another very singular animal in the proboscis monkey, (Nasalis, Geoffroy,) which, to the form of the orangs, joins a considerable length of tail; but the greatest peculiarity is the shape of the nose, which is prolonged to an extraordinary degree, and can be compared to nothing so justly, as some of the pasteboard masks, which may be daily seen at the windows of our fancy toyshops. Extending our researches farther in the Asiatic continent, we find, in the western district of China, another curious form, furnished with long arms and tail, but of rather graceful proportions, with a fur of rich colouring, destitute of the bare callosities, and possessing somewhat the flattened face of the American monkeys. It is the Chinese monkey, and constitutes Illiger’s genus Lasiopaga. Some zoologists ascribe the Island of Madagascar as another abode of this animal, but we strongly suspect, that, however allied in resemblance, it will prove distinct. But the most interesting form to these continents, is the orangs, common to both, but in indifferent individuals; and these, as far as our knowledge extends, confined to a very limited space: that of India inhabits almost exclusively the Island of Borneo, while the African representative is found only on the eastern coast, and particularly in Angola and Congo.
These are the principal forms inhabiting the old world; South America possesses others of great peculiarity, and it is remarkable, that none of them can be placed in any of the African or Asiatic groups. The nostrils are always divided by a broader separation, the size and strength is much less; in some, the proportions are very diminutive, and in a few, the habits become completely nocturnal. The inhabitants of this region, also exhibit the most perfect adaptation of structure for climbing and a silvan life, and the formation of the tail in the greater part, is a most efficient assistant in grasping and supporting themselves among the branches, and some can even introduce the extremity in the narrow parts of the bark, and withdraw from thence any small substance.* (* Humboldt, Zool. Observations, page 329.-Description of Marimonda in present volume). Among the Howlers, we see somewhat of the form and appearance of the baboons, which they also resemble in their larger size, their strength, and fiercer dispositions, and in the structure of the laryngeal sacks, which are connected with the os hyoides. We find, in the genus Hapales, an approach to the insectivorous mammaliae, in the hooked claws of the fore extremities, instead of nails; and in several of the other forms, a departure from the quadrumanous types, and a joining with the Lemuridae.
As the quadrumanous races approach nearest to man in structure, and consequently in actions, it will be proper to point out some of the principal distinctions which corporeally separate them; and for this purpose, we shall confine ourselves to the two orangs, which have been universally allowed to bear the strongest resemblance. We do not intend to institute a strict comparison between the monkey and human organization, and to adduce proof from the comparison, that they are distinct as well in structure as in nature; we consider this quite unnecessary, and think that in all our systems, man should be kept entirely distinct. As he is infinitely pre-eminent by the high and peculiar character and power of his mind, and the future destination of his immaterial part, so has he been stamped with a bearing lofty and dignified, with–
“Far nobler shape, erect and tall,
Godlike erect, with native honour clad.”
We wish chiefly to illustrate, by their difference, that the parts allotted for locomotion in the most man-like monkey, are unfitted for sustaining an upright attitude, while they are beautifully adapted to perform all the requisites of a silvan life.
The first distinction that would undoubtedly strike an observer of an orang and human being placed in the same enclosure, would be the positions and attitude; and a closer attention would soon convince, that the corresponding members in each, while beautifully formed for their proper uses, could not be employed to perform similar actions, with an equal degree of strength, firmness, or ease.
Few persons, in the present era, will assert,–
“Men have four legs by nature,
And that ’tis custom makes them go
Erroneously upon but two.”
While the fact, that no nation in the world assumes any except the erect attitude, will be sufficiently conclusise, without making use of the many arguments which might be drawn from the adaptation of structure. Let us now see how this agrees with the natural gait of the orangs. In man, the limbs, the principal organs of progression, and of maintaining the upright position, are equal in length to the head and trunk together, while the upper extremities are comparatively short. The glutei muscles are the largest in the human body, and the gastronemi, or calf, are of immense power, and terminate in a powerful cord, inserted in the extremity of the bone, forming the heel or os calcis. These however, would be insufficient, without a surface or base on which the trunk itself could rest; and we find this supplied by a broad and capacious pelvis with which the thigh-bones form a right angle, by means of the length of the cervix femoris, or neck of the thigh bone. In the orangs, on the contrary, and indeed in all the monkeys, the lower extremities are comparatively short, while the upper, or arms, are very long, so as to allow the knuckles to be applied to the ground when the animal is nearly erect, and which is, in fact, the mode of progression always adopted when necessity requires this position. The black orang noticed by Dr. Tyson advanced in this manner, and that dissected by Dr. Trail was observed never to place “the palms of the hands on the ground.” Dr. Abel’s red orang performed “the progressive motion by placing his bent fists upon the ground, and drawing his body between his arms.” The narrowness of the pelvis, and the short neck of the femur, forming an acute angle with the spine, also renders the erect position impossible for any time, and always irksome, which is farther confirmed by the weakness of the muscles. The glutei are scarcely visible, and the calves are very weak.* (*”Les fesses etoient presque nulles, ainsi que les mollets.”-F. Cuvier.)
The extensors of the knee are much stronger in the human subject than in other mammalia, as their operation of extending the thigh forwards on the leg, forms a very essential part in the human mode of progression. The flexors of the knee are, on the contrary, stronger in animals, and are inserted so much lower down, even in the monkeys, that the cord which they form keeps the knee habitually bent, and almost prevents the perfect extension of the leg on the thigh.* (*Dr. Trail.) “The motion of the knee-joint in the black orang was free backwards, but the animal does not seem capable of perfect extension of this joint, from the contraction of the posterior muscles of the limb.* (*”The most remarkable muscle about the top of the thigh, has not been noticed by Tyson, Camper, Cuvier, or the older anatomists. It is a flat triangular muscle, arising from the whole anterior edge of the ileum to within half an inch of the acetabulum, and is inserted just below the fore part of the great trochanter, between the head of the cruralis and vastus externus, a little below the origin of the former. It is thin and fleshy through its whole extent, except where it is inserted by a very short flattened tendon. At its upper part it is united by cellular substance to the iliacus internus. The action of this muscle appears to be intended to assist in climbing. On this account, we propose to name it the scandens, or musculus scansorius; and we are disposed to regard it as one of the principal peculiarities in Simia satyrus.”–Dr. Trail. Account of Black Ornag. Wern. Soc. Trans. Vol. iii, p.29.)
Continuing the organization of the lower extremity, we shall now examine the foot. In man, the whole surface of the tarsus, metatarsus, and toes, rests upon the ground, and the os calcis forms a right angle with the leg. In the orangs, this bone begins to form an acute angle with the limb, and consequently does not rest upon the ground. The sole of the foot becomes narrower; and in all the attempts at erect progression, exhibited by the orangs which have been shown in this country, the foot was observed to rest on its outer edge. The plantaris muscle also, which is very fleshy among quadrumanous animals, instead of terminating, as it does in man, by insertion in the os calcis, passes over that bone into the sole, and is there connected with the planter aponeurosis, an arrangement incompatible with the erect attitude, as the tendon would be compressed, and its action impeded, if the heel rested on the ground.* (*Lawrence, Nat. Hist. of Man.) But the most marked peculiarity in the foot, and one which is instantly perceived, is the great length of the phalanges or toes, and the position of the great toe, which is placed nearly in a line with the ankle, and does not reach, at the nail, within an inch of the first metatarsal joint, having the appearance of a thumb and hand, whose office it in reality performs. Nor is the internal conformation less remarkable; the whole arrangement of muscles is much nearer to that of a hand; but the thumbs of both the fore and hind extremities have no separate flexor longus, (long flexor,) but receive tendons from the flexors of the fingers. “Hence, the thumbs in these animals will generally be bent together with the other fingers; and they are less capable of those actions in which the motion of the thumb is combined with that of the fore and middle finger-a combination so important in numerous delicate operations.”* (*Ibid. page 162.)
The upper extremity approaches much nearer to the human form, and in its similarity points out the unfitness of these animals for a constant quadruped motion. The inferior structure of the hands, and particularly the thumbs, show them fitted for grasping alone, and incapable of performing any nice mechanical operation, while the great comparative length indicates their utility in climbing, and therefore their fitness for an arboreal life.
All the orangs which have been dissected, had scarcely reached their second year. The relative proportions, therefore, of the skull and brain to the body, cannot be fixed or compared with those of the adult human being. The relations of the brain, however, as far as have been observed, are nearly similar, and the principal differences in the skull of the nearest form, the black orang, are thus mentioned by Dr Trail: “The top of the head is more flat, and its union with the spine farther back. The orbital processes of the os frontis project about half an inch beyond the general convexity of that bone; and the orbits of the eyes are proportionally larger and rounder than in man. The depression which receives the cribriform plate of the ethmoid bone, is much deeper and smoother on the sides; while the apertures in that bone, for the passage of the olfactory nerves, are considerably larger. Instead of the well- defined boundaries traced in the human skull by the crucial ridge, they were marked by a flat undulation of the occipital bone. There is no mastoid, and scarcely a vestige of a hyloid process, (consequently the muscles which arise from these processes in man, have a different origin.) The bones of the nose were placed perfectly flat on the face, so as not to be visible in the profile of the skull, and the triangular opening was circular. The supra- maxillary bones projected considerably beyond the remarkable orbiter process of the frontal bone, being the form of the lower part of the bone nearer to that of quadrupeds. The lower jaw was stronger and narrower.”
The superior maxillary bones in man are united to each other, and contain the whole of the upper teeth; but in most of the mammaliae, they are separated by a third bone of a wedge shape, which contains the incisor teeth. Blumenbach named this the os inter-maxillare. According to that anatomist, and Camper, it is found in the red orang; whereas, according to Tyson and Daubenton, it was not seen in the chimpanzee, or black orang; nor does Dr. Trail mention having observed it in the specimen which he dissected. “The brute face,” says Lawrence, “is merely an instrument, adapted to procure and prepare food, and often a weapon of offence and defence. The human countenance is an organ of expression, an outward index of what passes in the busy world within. In the animal, the elongated and narrow jaws with their muscles, with their sharp cutting teeth, or strong-pointed and formidable fangs compose the face; the chin, lips, cheeks, eyebrows, ant forehead, are either removed, or reduced to a size and form simply necessary for animal purposes; the nose is confounded with the upper jaw and lip, or, if more developed, is still applied to offices connected with procuring food.” In the whole we have the muzzle, or snout of an animal, not the countenance of a human being.
The articulation of the head with the spine, which determines its support, is, in the human subject, very nearly in the centre; and the vertical line of the neck and trunk is nearly perpendicular, and would pass through the top of the head; consequently the whole weight is sustained by the vertebral column. In most animals, the great occipital hole, and the articular condyles, are placed almost at the end of the skull, throwing the whole weight of the head forwards, and it is incapable of being supported by the vertebral column, without some very powerful assisting machinery. Hence, we find the spinous processes of the cervical vertebrae long, and assisted by a very strong ligament, called the ligamentum nuchae, or suspensorium colli. In the orang, the occipital hole is placed twice as far from the jaws as from the back of the head, which throws a great additional weight forwards, and consequently requires more exertion to maintain the erect position. But although we find, according to Camper, that the spinous processes of the cervical vertebrae are long, and see a greater developement of them in the Batavian pongo, there is no mention in any author of the presence of the suspensory ligament, which is also used as an argument that the natural gait of these animals is not quadruped; for the immense weight of the jaws of the adults, placed so far off the centre, could not possibly be supported in that position, without some provision of this kind. Additional confirmation of this argument is the absence of the suspensorium oculi, a muscle found in quadrupeds, and evidently intended to relieve the others, and be a greater support to the eyes when continued in the prone position.
These are the principal peculiarities of structure connected with progression and attitude; and it must be at once perceived, that neither the erect or quadruped posture, is the common and natural one of the monkeys, and that they will employ either as occasion requires, in their silvan or rocky abodes. Every other part of the form will present some difference; but with the exception of the construction of the larynx, and principal organs employed in the faculty of speech, we shall merely mention a few of the remaining most prominent peculiarities exhibited by the African and Asiatic orangs.
There were only four lumbar vertebrae in Dr Trail’s orang, in this respect similar to the Asiatic species dissected by Messrs Owen and Yarrel. In the first animal, however, there were thirteen dorsal vertebrae, and a similar number of ribs; in the latter, only twelve of each. The lower opening of the pelvis in the black orang is very large; the sacrum is very narrow. No occipito-frontalis muscle was found in the black orang, while it was distinctly seen in the red species by Messrs Owen and Yarrel. In the same animal, three muscles were found to supply the place of the pectoralis major; and the peculiar muscle called the levator claviculae is found in both. In the black orang the size of the olfactory nerve is great, and the surface of the turbinated bones extensive, which would lead us to infer that the sense of smelling was powerful, and of course of necessary use in its economy.
The larynx of these animals present some curious peculiarities. The best account, perhaps, is that given by Camper of the red orang. After examining the tongue, that anatomist continues, “pursuing my dissection, I discovered a large sack on the right side, runing over the clavicular bones, and another on the left side, but visibly smaller. The large sack tore a little on account of its being tender, by having laid so long in spirits. I inflated it through the opening, which I continued quickly, as I perceived that the air went off betwixt the tongue bone and the thyroideus cartilage. I then followed up the rent with a pair of scissors, and cut open the sack, bv which means I discovered a transverse split. There was now no doubt but that the left sack had a similar orifice. In pursuance of it, I took away the whole soft palate and oesophagus as far as below the speaking organs. The soft palate is the same as in most quadrupeds, with this difference, nevertheless, that the uvula on the hind side runs very evidently downwards, but not beneath the margin of the soft palate. This palate appears, however, more capable than in other animals of being contracted.”
In other two orangs “there was merely one single sack, having two air tubes, which united themselves with the two splits.” This, he thinks, had been formerly two, ” but that the two sacks were gone over into one.”
In one of the animals, “the bottom (of the sack) rose nearly to the end of the breast bone, and was partly covered by the breast muscles; the sack rose upwards above the clavicular bones, and with the appendages still more backward, so that this sack penetrated on each side deep under the monk’s-hood muscles, as far as behind upon the shoulder blades.”
Camper is of opinion, that this sack increases in size with the age of the animal; and that the frequent expansion by the air, is the cause of the increase.
“The orang can, in the mean time, voluntarily swell up these sacks, or this united sack, whenever it tries or attempts to press the strongly inhaled air outwards, and presses then the epiglottis towards the openings of the larynx, or bends it only a little. It can also empty them at pleasure by means of the broad muscles of the neck, by those of the breast, and by the cuculares, or monk’s-hood muscles.”
In the black orang, according to Dr. Trail, the os hyoides differed from that of man, in being anteriorly more prominent and dilated, and by containing in its body a cavity capable of holding a large pea. On laying open the posterior part of the larynx, the two apertures at the base of the epiglottis, and leading the laryngeal pouches discovered by Camper, were visible.
The great difference in these organs from the human are the large sacks, which evidently produce the powerful and deep sounds uttered by so many of this tribe. In the black orang, being carried into the body of the os hyoides, it shows the first indication of structure so peculiarly belonging to the American howlers. In the Siamang, remarkable for the power of voice, the simple sacks are so extensive as to protrude prominently to outward view. They prevent the utterance of systematic sounds which the other organs might produce, by preventing a power of control over the air. “Every time that the animal would utter his cry, these sacks swell, then empty themselves, so that he is not able, at will, to supply to the different parts of his mouth the sounds they might articulate.”* (*Richerand, Physiology, p. 424)
In intellect we consider the quadrumanous animals, notwithstanding what has been written and recorded of many of them, not superior, and in many cases inferior, to others of the animal creation; it has the same constitutional distinctions, and presents the same great differences, from a true reasoning power. But among the many anecdotes related of the understanding of the orang-outang, and other monkeys, some may be classed as under the influence of a higher power of discrimination than mere instinct, and where a process, as it were, of discussion passed in the sensorium of the animal. As an example of what we mean, we may mention an anecdote of the young red orang, lately exhibited in Edinburgh by Mr. Copts, and figured on our second plate.
Mr. Copts one day gave him the half of an orange, a fruit of which he was passionately fond, and laid the other half aside upon the upper shelf of a press out of his reach and sight. Some time after, Mr. Copts being reclining upon a sofa with his eyes closed, the orang began to prowl about the room, and showed that, notwithstanding his apparent in-attention, the position of his favourite orange had been narrowly watched. Anxious to see the result, he continued quiet, and feigned sleep. Jocko cautiously approached the sofa, examined as far as he could that his guardian was sound, and mounting quietly and expeditiously, finished the remaining half of the orange, carefully concealed the peel in the grate among some paper shavings, and having again examined Mr. Copts, and seeing nothing doubtful in the reality of his sleep, retired confidently to his own couch. Here there must have been a detailed series of impressions during the progress of the action; but in common with the construction of the brute mind, he was incapable of extending the power farther, or of reasoning upon that action, during the performance of which his intellect had gone through several distinct processes. All their actions in a state of confinement may be traced to the same source, while those in a state of nature will be more akin to instinct, and will be performed under the impulses of the various passions.
Cunning joined with caution, an inquisitive and prying turn, and imitativeness, are the strong characters in the disposition of the whole family. All these faculties and propensities become more developed in a state of confinement, and consequently of tuition, than in their natural wildness; and while the first, in both states, is indispensable for their preservation, it is by the influence of the others that they are principally indebted to confinement, and the parts they are made to perform in the beggarly dramas performed in the streets of our great towns. Their power of imitation is very great, and often ludicrous in the extreme, from the expressive face, and human Like form of the upper parts. This talent has even been said to have been used to their own destruction;-we have heard of monkeys cutting their throats, in imitation of the feigned action of the person whom they annoyed, and of one who killed himself by infusing a paper of tobacco with milk and sugar, instead of tea, and drinking it as he had observed some sick sailor do. How far these are true we shall not attempt to decide; certain it is, that these animals most ludicrously possess this propensity, and that those we have seen as pets, would almost perform any thing once pointed out to them, and would always make the attempt.
For the arrangement of these animals in the descriptive part of our volume, we have followed the old practice of dividing them into two great geographical groups, while we have introduced most of the new genera. This plan we found to be the most convenient during the progress, and perhaps liable to less objection in a work of this kind, than any other or newer system, all of which yet fall short of our own ideas of their correct classification.
The truest arrangement that has yet been proposed, is that by Cuvier and Geoffroy Saint Hilaire,* (* Journal de Physique) and they place the Sapajous immediately after the Orangs and Gibbons. Another system of arrangement, which would find both its friends and enemies in the advocates and disparagers of the circular or progressive series, would be to descend from the Orangs, on the one side of the circle, by the Gibbons, Nasalis, and Colobus, the latter being the only form in the old world with four fingers to the upper extremities, and so far in this respect representing the genus Ateles of the new. We have then the genus Lasiopyga, which combines a great flatness of face to the form of the Guenons which naturally follow, and thence the passage to the Baboons and Cynocephali is easy. On the opposite side, we would descend by the Sapajous and Sagoins to Ateles, thence to the Howlers or Baboons of the new world, and onwards by the Pithecia of Desmarets, to the small species with hooked and sharp claws. We would still, in this way, have a space between these diminutive insectivorous species, deviating so much from the quadrumanous type and the cynocephalous baboons; but this appears to fill itself naturally up by the Lemuridae, the small species of which seem intimately connected with the little monkeys above mentioned, while there will be a natural gradation from the baboons to the genus Lichanotus of Illiger, or the Indri of Sonnerat and Audibert. This view of their arrangement would doubtless require alterations to perfect it; but something of the kind seems the most natural method, and the orders of the Carnivora and Rodentia, whichever shall be found to follow most naturally, would touch at the various points of the circle representing their respective families.
For the illustrations of the present volume, we have been at considerable pains. In a few instances Mr. Lizars has been able to draw from the living animals, and our best thanks are due to Mr. Copts, for allowing copies to be made from his interesting specimen of the red orang, and also to Mr. Wombwell for the sketch of the white eyelid monkey. Professor Jameson pointed out the specimen of the hoolack lately received in the Edinburgh Museum; and for the remainder we are indebted to the beautiful but expensive works of the continental naturalists. We have made free use of Humboldt’s Zoological Observations, and his History of the Monkeys of the Orinooko; of Frederic Cuvier’s great work on the Mammaliae; Audibert, Histoire Naturelle des Singes, and of Spix and Martius’s History of the New Brazilian species.
Having thus so far endeavoured to detail the habits and economy of this curious family, and the general plan of our volume, we shall at once proceed to the description of the animals themselves.
From: The Natural History of Monkeys by Sir William Jardine, Edinburgh: W.H.Lizars, 1833.
[Note all ideas expressed are those of the author in historical context and do not represent the views of the Wisconsin Primate Research Center or the University of Wisconsin.]