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PHEASANT

Online Encyclopedia
Originally appearing in Volume V21, Page 361 of the 1911 Encyclopedia Britannica.
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PHEASANT (Mid. Eng. fesaunt and Salpingopharyngeal fold Glands in soft palate Anterior palatine arch Supratonsillar fossa Plica triangularis fesaun; Ger. fasan and anciently fasant; Fr. faisan—all from the Lat. Phasianus or phasiana, sc. avis) , the bird brought from the banks of the river Phasis, now the Rioni, in Colchis, where it is still abundant, and introduced, according to legend, by the Argonauts into Europe. Judging from the development of the ventral part of the pharynx is dealt with in recognition of the remains of several species referred to the genus the articles TONGUE and RESPIRATORY SYSTEM. Phasianus both in Greece and in France,i it seems not impossible For literature see Quain's Elements of Anatomy, vol. i. (London, r9o8), and J. P. McMurrich, Development of the Human Body that the ordinary pheasant, the P. colchicus of ornithclogists, (London, 1906). may have been indigenous to this quarter of the globe. If it was Comparative Anatomy.—In the lower, water-breathing, verte- introduced into England, it must almost certainly have been brates the pharynx is the part in which respiration occurs. The brought by the Romans;' for, setting aside several earlier records water passes in through the mouth and out through the gill slits of doubtful authority,' Stubbs has shown that by the regulations where it comes in contact with the gills or branchiae. of King Harold in 1059 onus phasianus is prescribed as the The lowest subphylum of the phylum Chordata, to which the term Adelochorda is sometimes applied, contains a worm-like creature Balanoglossus, in which numerous rows of gill slits open from the pharynx, though Cephalodiscus, another member of the same subphylum, has only one pair of these. In the subphylum Urochorda, to which the Ascidians or sea-squirts belong, there are many rows of gill slits, as there are also in the Acrania, of which Amphioxus, the lancelet, is the type. In all these lower forms there are no true gills, as the blood-vessels lining the large number of slits provide a sufficient area for the exchange of gases. In the Cyclostomata a reduction of the number of gill slits takes place, and an increased area for respiration is provided by the gill pouches lined by pleated folds of entodermal mucous membrane; (From Ambrose Birmingham, Cunningham's Text Book of Anatomy.) Sagittal Section through Mouth, Tongue, Larynx, Pharynx and Nasal Cavity. The section is slightly oblique, and the posterior edge of the nasal septum has been pre-served. The specimen is viewed slightly from below, hence in part the low position of the inferior turbinated bone. 1 These are P. archiaci from Pikermi, P. altus and P. medius from the lacustrine beds of Sansan, and P. desnoyersi from Touraine, see A. Milne Edwards, Ois. foss. de la France (ii. 229, 239-243). 2 Undoubted remains have been found in excavations at Silchester. s Among these perhaps that worthy of most attention is in Probert's translation of The Ancient Laws of Cambria (ed. 1823, pp. 367, 368), wherein extracts are given from Welsh triads, presumably of the age of Howel the Good, who died in 948. One of them is, " There are three barking hunts: a bear, a squirrel and a pheasant." The explanation is, " A pheasant is called a barking hunt, because when the pointers come upon it and chase it, it takes to a tree, where it is hunted by baiting." The present writer has not been able to trace the manuscript containing these remarkable alternative of two partridges or other birds among the " pitantiae" (rations or commons, as we might now say) of the canons of Waltham Abbey, and, as W. B. Dawkins has remarked (Ibis, 1869, p. 358), neither Anglo-Saxons nor Danes were likely to have introduced it into England. It seems to have been early under legal protection, for, according to Dugdale, a licence was granted in the reign of Henry I. to the abbot of Amesbury to kill hares and pheasants, and from the price at which the latter are reckoned in various documents, we may conclude that they were not very abundant for some centuries, and also that they were occasion-ally artificially reared and fattened, as appears from Upton,' who wrote about the middle of the 15th century, while Henry VIII. seems from his privy purse expenses to have had in his household in 1532 a French priest as a regular " fesaunt breder," and in the accounts of the Kytsons of Hengrave in Suffolk for 1607 mention is made of wheat to feed pheasants, partridges and quails. The practice of bringing up pheasants by hand is now extensively followed, and the numbers so reared vastly exceed those that are bred at large. The eggs are collected from birds that are either running wild or kept in pens, and are placed under domestic hens; but, though these prove most attentive foster-mothers, much additional care on the part of their keepers is needed to ensure the arrival at maturity of the poults; for, being necessarily crowded in a comparatively small space, they are subject to several diseases which often carry off a large proportion, to say nothing of the risk they run by not being provided with proper food, or by meeting an early death from various predatory animals attracted by the assemblage of so many helpless victims. As they advance in age the young pheasants readily take to a wild life, and indeed can only be kept from wandering in every direction by being plentifully supplied with food, which has to be scattered for them in the coverts in which it is desired that they should stay. The pro-portion of pheasants artificially bred that " come to the gun " would seem to vary enormously, not only irregularly according to the weather, but regularly according to the district. ' In the eastern counties of England, and some other favourable localities, perhaps three-fourths of those that are hatched may be satisfactorily accounted for; but in many of the western counties, though they are the objects of equal or even greater care, it would seem that more than half of the number that live to grow their feathers disappear inexplicably before the coverts are beaten. For the sport of pheasant-shooting see
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