This page was last updated on 09 January 2022

Click here to 
Print this page

Biography finder





























Index of first names

Lord Morton’s Marenbsp;


Lord Morton’s Mare was once an often noticed example in the history of evolutionary theory.

Morton's Quagga
Lord Morton's QuaggLord Morton's Quagga, by Jacques Laurent Agasse (Courtesy of the Royal College of Surgeons).
In 1820, George Douglas, 16th Earl of Morton, F.R.S., reported to the President of the Royal Society that being desirous of domesticating the quagga, he had bred an Arabian chestnut mare with a quagga stallion (1), and that subsequently Lord Morton bred the same mare with a white stallion and found that the offspring had strange stripes in the legs, like the quagga. The Royal Society published Lord Morton's letter in its Philosophical Transactions, 1821. In the same issue "Particulars of a Fact, nearly similar to that related by Lord Morton, communicated to the President, in a letter from Daniel Giles, Esq." reported that in a litter of a black and white sow, by a "boar of the wild breed, the chestnut colour of the boar strongly prevailed" in the piglets, even to the third subsequent litter.

These circumstantial reports seemed to confirm the ancient idea of telegony in heritability: Charles Darwin cited the example in On the Origin of Species (1859) and The Variation of Animals and Plants under Domestication (1868). The concept of telegony, that the seed of a male could continue to affect the offspring of a female, whether animal or human, had been inherited from Aristotle and remained a legitimate theory until experiments in the 1890s confirmed Mendelian inheritance. Biologists now explain the phenomenon of Lord Morton's mare using dominant and recessive alleles.

Notes:>1.  A quagga,  now extinct, was a relative of the zebra.

See also:

  • Douglas Livestock



    Any contributions will be gratefully accepted


    Errors and Omissions

    The Forum

    What's new?

    We are looking for your help to improve the accuracy of The Douglas Archives.

    If you spot errors, or omissions, then please do let us know


    Many articles are stubs which would benefit from re-writing. Can you help?


    You are not authorized to add this page or any images from this page to (or its subsidiaries) or other fee-paying sites without our express permission and then, if given, only by including our copyright and a URL link to the web site.


    If you have met a brick wall with your research, then posting a notice in the Douglas Archives Forum may be the answer. Or, it may help you find the answer!

    You may also be able to help others answer their queries.

    Visit the Douglas Archives Forum.


    2 Minute Survey

    To provide feedback on the website, please take a couple of minutes to complete our survey.


    We try to keep everyone up to date with new entries, via our What's New section on the home page.

    We also use the Community Network to keep researchers abreast of developments in the Douglas Archives.

    Help with costs

    Maintaining the three sections of the site has its costs.  Any contribution the defray them is very welcome



    If you would like to receive a very occasional newsletter - Sign up!
    Temporarily withdrawn.



    Back to top


    The content of this website is a collection of materials gathered from a variety of sources, some of it unedited.

    The webmaster does not intend to claim authorship, but gives credit to the originators for their work.

    As work progresses, some of the content may be re-written and presented in a unique format, to which we would then be able to claim ownership.

    Discussion and contributions from those more knowledgeable is welcome.

    Contact Us

    Last modified: Friday, 17 May 2024