Book - The Rat - Reference tables and data for the albino rat and the Norway rat (1915)

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Donaldson H. The Rat - Reference tables and data for the albino rat (Mus norvegicus albinus) and the Norway rat (Mus norvegicus). (1915) Memoirs of the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, No. 6, Philadelphia.

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This historic 1915 book by Donaldson is a historic description of the rat.


1915 Book Review (Anatomical Record 10 (1915-16))

THE RAT. Reference tables and data for the albino rat (Mus norvegicus albinus) and the Norway rat (Mus norvegicus) ; Compiled and edited by Henry H. Donaldson; Memoirs of the Wistar Institute of Anatomy and Biology, No. 6, Philadelphia, 1915.

This is primarily a reference work for those interested in the rat as a laboratory animal. It is based chiefly upon the extensive published investigations of Professor Donaldson and his colleagues, but includes some work hitherto unpublished, together with available data compiled from various sources. The introduction includes a discussion of the classification of the common rats, and a history of their migrations. The book proper is divided into two parts, the first dealing with the common albino rat, the second with the wild Norway rat (from which the albino has been derived). Various chapters deal briefly with the biological characters, heredity, anatomy (including histology and embryology), physiology and pathology. A convenient index is provided.

The main purpose of the work is to present those data which can be systematically arranged in quantitative form. The data are arranged chiefly in tables and graphs showing the growth in size and weight of the whole body and of the various constituent parts, systems and organs. Tables of growth in the chemical constituents are also included. The tables are conveniently arranged for reference, so that for a given animal the normal weight of any corresponding orgah is immediately obtained.


While these normal tables by no means eliminate the necessity of adequate controls in experiments upon the rat, they furnish a very useful and convenient basis whereby the deviations found in the various local strains used can be compared and measured. If the experimenters will utilize the tables in the manner recommended, it will make possible a standardization of their results upon a basis of comparison much better than any hitherto available.

The necessity for more complete data upon the normal variability of various biological characteristics is especially evident when we consider that without this knowledge it is impossible to draw trustworthy conclusions from the apparent results of experiments, or to judge as to whether the number of controls used is probably adequate. The apparent discrepancy in the variability of the body weight of the albino rat as found by Jackson (table 58) and by King (table 67) is probably due to the fact that the former is based upon a 'random sample' of the general population, whereas the latter is based upon a study of selected litters of strong and vigorous individuals (Anat. Rec, vol. 9, p. 751), among which less variability might be expected. The great advantage of controls from the same litter is emphasized by evidence that fraternal (intra-litter) variability is but little more than half that of the general population.

For data not included in the scope of the present work (which deals with the normal rat only), references are grouped at the ends of the various chapters. A general bibliography of 948 titles of works dealing wholly or partly, with the rat is also given. Even this large list is incomplete, since numerous bacteriological and descriptive zoological references were intentionally omitted.

The already large number of investigations based upon the rat is likely to increase greatly in the future, as the advantages of this animal for experimental work become better known. Such work will be greatly facilitated by Donaldson's manual. It is to be hoped that the more evident gaps in our knowledge of the rat, especially in its histology and embryology, will be speedily filled; so that for at least one laboratory type biometric norms throughout the life cycle will be available. An albino rat colony will thus perhaps in the near future become a recognized necessity in every well-rregulated biological laboratory.

Modern Notes: rat

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Historic Embryology - Rat 
1915 Normal Albino Rat | 1915 Abnormal Albino Rat | 1915 Albino Rat Development | 1921 Somitogenesis | 1925 Neural Folds and Cranial Ganglia | 1933 Vaginal smear | 1938 Heart
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The Rat

Reference tables and data for the albino rat (Mus norvegicus albinus) and the Norway rat (Mus norvegicus)