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Letter to James Cossar Ewart from August Weismann, with Ewart's translation, 07 October 1894

Identifier: Coll-14/9/2/5

Scope and Contents

Weismann writes in English and German regarding Ewart's proposed experiments to investigate telegony, stating that 'I thought always the experiments of Lord Morton should be repeated.' He goes on to say that the zebra is an ideal subject for cross-breeding experiments because of its stripes, but adds that first Ewart should make sure that striping does not sometimes occur in newborn ponies. He thanks Ewart for inviting him to be part of the experiments and, although his distance from England would make this impossible, he would like to be kept informed of Ewart's progress.

Weismann's letter is accompanied by Ewart's translation of the German into English, marked 'Copy and partial translation.'


  • Creation: 07 October 1894


Language of Materials

English; German

Physical Description

2 letters, 2 leaves

Conditions Governing Access


Biographical / Historical

In 1820, George Douglas, 16th Earl of Morton, reported to the Royal Society that he had bred a chestnut mare with a wild quagga stallion, and when he later bred the same mare with a black stallion, the offspring had striped markings and stiff manes, like the quagga. This case became the most widely cited example of the theory of telegony (ie that a female's first mate may influence the future offspring from different sires). Although it had received some challenges from the 1860s, this theory did not fall out of favour until the turn of the twentieth century. Ewart's experiments aimed to repeat the conditions of Lord Morton's experiment as closely as possible by crossbreeding horses with zebras (quaggas being by then extinct). Of the sixteen hybrid offspring produced by different matings, no positive evidence of telegony was found.


From the File: 1 folder

Physical Location


Physical Description

2 letters, 2 leaves

Repository Details

Part of the University of Edinburgh Library Heritage Collections Repository

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