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great interest as being in all probability the most primitive domestic
breed in existence, showing the least modification from their wild
ancestor. They are not so large, nor are their horns so fine, but in
general their resemblance to Mouflon and other wild species is much
closer than to any other domestic breed. They have the same long
legs and small bodies, the same active carriage, the same general
colouration (a light reddish-brown with light rump), the same short
hair, only an inch or so long, with dense unclerwool, the same fringe
of long hair on the throat. They are quite different from the
Hebridean breed.
Nothing certain is known of their history, but it may be taken that
they represent a very early stage in Western man's moulding of the
wild sheep into a wool-bearing, mutton-producing machine, a stage
which everywhere else was supplanted by improved breeds, but
survived in St. Kilda because of its remoteness. To sec them scamper-
ing about the cliffs and steep slopes of the islands is to be transported
far back in human cultural history, perhaps to 3000 or 4000 B.C.
One of the most remarkable facts in recent European natural
history is the steady spread of the fulmar. In the Faeroes, its arrival
between 1816 and 1839 was followed by a period of rapid increase,
which has continued until the present. In recent years about 100,000
fulmars have been taken annually for food in the Faeroes.
In Britain it was not known to breed outside St. Kilda. However,
the wave of increase began to operate here too, and in 1878 it colonized
Foula off the Shetlands. By 1891 it had reached the main part of the
Shetland archipelago, and by the turn of the century was breeding in
Orkney and Sutherland. To-day it is prospecting breeding-sites as
far south as Land's End and the Scillics on the west, and Dorset and
the Isle of Wight on the south, and is already breeding at Flam-
borough Head on the east.
There are now about 21,000 pairs on St. Kilda, while those on the
rest of our coast are estimated at about 41,000 pairs. Looked at from
another angle, the fulmar population of the British Isles has nearly
trebled during the last half-century—a rate of increase a little higher
than that of the human population of England and Wales during the
first half of the nineteenth century*
At one time it was thought that this spectacular increase and ex-
tension of range was due to the decrease of human depredations
consequent on the introduction of kerosene oil and tinned food.
However, James Fisher's exhaustive study of the problem has made
it clear that this is not so, and that though the drop in the human
population of St. Kilda in the '50*8 and 'Go's may have had a local