M Database Inspector (cheetah)
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|OriginOfSpecies - 475 Rows|
|07 - Instinct||07-02 - Instincts Graduated||20||
No complex instinct can possibly be produced through natural selection, except by the slow and gradual accumulation of numerous, slight, yet profitable, variations.
Hence, as in the case of corporeal structures, we ought to find in nature, not the actual transitional gradations by which each complex instinct has been acquired for these could be found only in the lineal ancestors of each species but we ought to find in the collateral lines of descent some evidence of such gradations; or we ought at least to be able to show that gradations of some kind are possible; and this we certainly can do.
I have been surprised to find, making allowance for the instincts of animals having been but little observed except in Europe and North America, and for no instinct being known amongst extinct species, how very generally gradations, leading to the most complex instincts, can be discovered.
The canon of 'Natura non facit saltum' applies with almost equal force to instincts as to bodily organs.
Changes of instinct may sometimes be facilitated by the same species having different instincts at different periods of life, or at different seasons of the year, or when placed under different circumstances, &c.; in which case either one or the other instinct might be preserved by natural selection. And such instances of diversity of instinct in the same species can be shown to occur in nature.
|12 - Geographical Distribution -- continued||12-50 - On colonisation from the nearest source with subsequent modification||30||
New Zealand in its endemic plants is much more closely related to Australia, the nearest mainland, than to any other region: and this is what might have been expected; but it is also plainly related to South America, which, although the next nearest continent, is so enormously remote, that the fact becomes an anomaly.
But this difficulty almost disappears on the view that both New Zealand, South America, and other southern lands were long ago partially stocked from a nearly intermediate though distant point, namely from the antarctic islands, when they were clothed with vegetation, before the commencement of the Glacial period.
The affinity, which, though feeble, I am assured by Dr. Hooker is real, between the flora of the south-western corner of Australia and of the Cape of Good Hope, is a far more remarkable case, and is at present inexplicable: but this affinity is confined to the plants, and will, I do not doubt, be some day explained.
|13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or||13-02 - Natural system||10||
Naturalists try to arrange the species, genera, and families in each class, on what is called the Natural System.
But what is meant by this system?
Some authors look at it merely as a scheme for arranging together those living objects which are most alike, and for separating those which are most unlike; or as an artificial means for enunciating, as briefly as possible, general propositions, that is, by one sentence to give the characters common, for instance, to all mammals, by another those common to all carnivora, by another those common to the dog-genus, and then by adding a single sentence, a full description is given of each kind of dog.
The ingenuity and utility of this system are indisputable.
But many naturalists think that something more is meant by the Natural System; they believe that it reveals the plan of the Creator; but unless it be specified whether order in time or space, or what else is meant by the plan of the Creator, it seems to me that nothing is thus added to our knowledge.
Such expressions as that famous one of Linnaeus, and which we often meet with in a more or less concealed form, that the characters do not make the genus, but that the genus gives the characters, seem to imply that something more is included in our classification, than mere resemblance.
I believe that something more is included; and that propinquity of descent, the only known cause of the similarity of organic beings, is the bond, hidden as it is by various degrees of modification, which is partially revealed to us by our classifications.
|04 - Natural Selection||04-04 - Its Power at All Ages and on Both Sexes||20||
Natural selection will modify the structure of the young in relation to the parent, and of the parent in relation to the young.
In social animals it will adapt the structure of each individual for the benefit of the whole community, if the community profits by the selected change.
What natural selection cannot do, is to modify the structure of one species, without giving it any advantage, for the good of another species; and though statements to this effect may be found in works of natural history, I cannot find one case which will bear investigation.
A structure used only once in an animal's life, if of high importance to it, might be modified to any extent by natural selection; for instance, the great jaws possessed by certain insects, used exclusively for opening the cocoon- or the hard tip to the beak of unhatched birds, used for breaking the egg.
It has been asserted, that of the best short-beaked tumbler-pigeons a greater number perish in the egg than are able to get out of it; so that fanciers assist in the act of hatching.
Now if nature had to make the beak of a full-grown pigeon very short for the bird's own advantage, the process of modification would be very slow, and there would be simultaneously the most rigorous selection of all the young birds within the egg, which had the most powerful and hardest beaks, for all with weak beaks would inevitably perish; or, more delicate and more easily broken shells might be selected, the thickness of the shell being known to vary like every other structure.
It may be well here to remark that with all beings there must be much fortuitous destruction, which can have little or no influence on the course of natural selection.
For instance a vast number of eggs or seeds are annually devoured, and these could be modified through natural selection only if they varied in some manner which protected them from their enemies.
Yet many of these eggs or seeds would perhaps, if not destroyed, have yielded individuals better adapted to their conditions of life than any of these which happened to survive.
So again a vast number of mature animals and plants, whether or not they be the best adapted to their conditions, must be annually destroyed by accidental causes, which would not be in the least degree mitigated by certain changes of structure or constitution which would in other ways be beneficial to the species.
But let the destruction of the adults be ever so heavy, if the number which can exist in any district be not wholly kept down by such causes,- or again let the destruction of eggs or seeds be so great that only a hundredth or a thousandth part are developed,- yet of those which do survive, the best adapted individuals, supposing that there is any variability in favourable direction, will tend to propagate their kind in larger numbers than the less well adapted.
If the numbers be wholly kept down by the causes just indicated, as will often have been the case, natural selection will be powerless in certain beneficial directions; but this is no valid objection to its efficiency at other times and in other ways; for we are far from having any reason to suppose that many species ever undergo modification and improvement at the same time in the same area.