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|OriginOfSpecies - 475 Rows|
|14 - Recapitulation and Conclusion||14-05 - Effects of its adoption on the study of Natural history||50||
As species are produced and exterminated by slowly acting and still existing causes, and not by miraculous acts of creation and by catastrophes; and as the most important of all causes of organic change is one which is almost independent of altered and perhaps suddenly altered physical conditions, namely, the mutual relation of organism to organism, -- the improvement of one being entailing the improvement or the extermination of others; it follows, that the amount of organic change in the fossils of consecutive formations probably serves as a fair measure of the lapse of actual time.
A number of species, however, keeping in a body might remain for a long period unchanged, whilst within this same period, several of these species, by migrating into new countries and coming into competition with foreign associates, might become modified; so that we must not overrate the accuracy of organic change as a measure of time.
During early periods of the earth's history, when the forms of life were probably fewer and simpler, the rate of change was probably slower; and at the first dawn of life, when very few forms of the simplest structure existed, the rate of change may have been slow in an extreme degree.
The whole history of the world, as at present known, although of a length quite incomprehensible by us, will hereafter be recognised as a mere fragment of time, compared with the ages which have elapsed since the first creature, the progenitor of innumerable extinct and living descendants, was created.
|07 - Instinct||07-04 - Instincts variable||40||
As some degree of variation in instincts under a state of nature, and the inheritance of such variations, are indispensable for the action of natural selection, as many instances as possible ought to have been here given; but want of space prevents me.
I can only assert, that instincts certainly do vary for instance, the migratory instinct, both in extent and direction, and in its total loss.
So it is with the nests of birds, which vary partly in dependence on the situations chosen, and on the nature and temperature of the country inhabited, but often from causes wholly unknown to us: Audubon has given several remarkable cases of differences in nests of the same species in the northern and southern United States.
Fear of any particular enemy is certainly an instinctive quality, as may be seen in nestling birds, though it is strengthened by experience, and by the sight of fear of the same enemy in other animals.
But fear of man is slowly acquired, as I have elsewhere shown, by various animals inhabiting desert islands; and we may see an instance of this, even in England, in the greater wildness of all our large birds than of our small birds; for the large birds have been most persecuted by man.
We may safely attribute the greater wildness of our large birds to this cause; for in uninhabited islands large birds are not more fearful than small; and the magpie, so wary in England, is tame in Norway, as is the hooded crow in Egypt.
That the general disposition of individuals of the same species, born in a state of nature, is extremely diversified, can be shown by a multitude of facts.
Several cases also, could be given, of occasional and strange habits in certain species, which might, if advantageous to the species, give rise, through natural selection, to quite new instincts.
But I am well aware that these general statements, without facts given in detail, can produce but a feeble effect on the reader's mind. I can only repeat my assurance, that I do not speak without good evidence.
|14 - Recapitulation and Conclusion||14-01 - Recapitulation of the difficulties on the theory of Natural Selection||50||
As on the theory of natural selection an interminable number of intermediate forms must have existed, linking together all the species in each group by gradations as fine as our present varieties, it may be asked, Why do we not see these linking forms all around us?
Why are not all organic beings blended together in an inextricable chaos? With respect to existing forms, we should remember that we have no right to expect (excepting in rare cases) to discover directly connecting links between them, but only between each and some extinct and supplanted form.
Even on a wide area, which has during a long period remained continuous, and of which the climate and other conditions of life change insensibly in going from a district occupied by one species into another district occupied by a closely allied species, we have no just right to expect often to find intermediate varieties in the intermediate zone.
For we have reason to believe that only a few species are undergoing change at any one period; and all changes are slowly effected.
I have also shown that the intermediate varieties which will at first probably exist in the intermediate zones, will be liable to be supplanted by the allied forms on either hand; and the latter, from existing in greater numbers, will generally be modified and improved at a quicker rate than the intermediate varieties, which exist in lesser numbers; so that the intermediate varieties will, in the long run, be supplanted and exterminated.
On this doctrine of the extermination of an infinitude of connecting links, between the living and extinct inhabitants of the world, and at each successive period between the extinct and still older species, why is not every geological formation charged with such links?
Why does not every collection of fossil remains afford plain evidence of the gradation and mutation of the forms of life? We meet with no such evidence, and this is the most obvious and forcible of the many objections which may be urged against my theory.
Why, again, do whole groups of allied species appear, though certainly they often falsely appear, to have come in suddenly on the several geological stages?
Why do we not find great piles of strata beneath the Silurian system, stored with the remains of the progenitors of the Silurian groups of fossils? For certainly on my theory such strata must somewhere have been deposited at these ancient and utterly unknown epochs in the world's history.
I can answer these questions and grave objections only on the supposition that the geological record is far more imperfect than most geologists believe.
|06 - Difficutiles in Theory||06-02 - Transitions||10||As natural selection acts solely by the preservation of profitable modifications, each new form will tend in a fully-stocked country to take the place of, and finally to exterminate, its own less improved parent-form and other less favoured forms with which it comes into competition.|