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title varchar(250) 139 Column Stats
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04 - Natural Selection 04-11 - Divergence of Character 90 After the foregoing discussion, which has been much compressed, we may assume that the modified descendants of any one species will succeed so much the better as they become more diversified in structure, and are thus enabled to encroach on places occupied by other beings. Now let us see how this principle of benefit being derived from divergence of character, combined with the principles of natural selection and of extinction, tends to act.
03 - Struggle for Existence 03-01 - Bears on Natural Selection 20 Again, it may be asked, how is it that varieties, which I have called incipient species, become ultimately converted into good and distinct species which in most cases obviously differ from each other far more than do the varieties of the same species?

How do those groups of species, which constitute what are called distinct genera, and which differ from each other more than do the species of the same genus, arise?

All these results, as we shall more fully see in the next chapter, follow from the struggle for life.

Owing to this struggle, variations, however slight and from whatever cause proceeding, if they be in any degree profitable to the individuals of a species, in their infinitely complex relations to other organic beings and to their physical conditions of life, will tend to the preservation of such individuals, and will generally be inherited by the offspring.

The offspring, also, will thus have a better chance of surviving, for, of the many individuals of any species which are periodically born, but a small number can survive.

I have called this principle, by which each slight variation, if useful, is preserved, by the term Natural Selection, in order to mark its relation to man's power of selection.

But the expression often used by Mr. Herbert Spencer of the Survival of the Fittest is more accurate, and is sometimes equally convenient. We have seen that man by selection can certainly produce great results, and can adapt organic beings to his own uses, through the accumulation of slight but useful variations, given to him by the hand of Nature.

Herbert Spencer
Herbert Spencer


But Natural Selection, as we shall hereafter see, is a power incessantly ready for action, and is as immeasurably superior to man's feeble efforts, as the works of Nature are to those of Art.
03 - Struggle for Existence 03-12 - Summary 20 All that we can do, is to keep steadily in mind that each organic being is striving to increase in a geometrical ratio; that each at some period of its life, during some season of the year, during each generation or at intervals, has to struggle for life and to suffer great destruction.

When we reflect on this struggle, we may console ourselves with the full belief, that the war of nature is not incessant, that no fear is felt, that death is generally prompt, and that the vigorous, the healthy, and the happy survive and multiply.
12 - Geographical Distribution -- continued 12-40 - On the relations of the inhabitants of islands to those of the nearest mainland 30 All the foregoing remarks on the inhabitants of oceanic islands, namely, the scarcity of kinds -- the richness in endemic forms in particular classes or sections of classes, the absence of whole groups, as of batrachians, and of terrestrial mammals notwithstanding the presence of aerial bats, the singular proportions of certain orders of plants, herbaceous forms having been developed into trees, &c., seem to me to accord better with the view of occasional means of transport having been largely efficient in the long course of time, than with the view of all our oceanic islands having been formerly connected by continuous land with the nearest continent; for on this latter view the migration would probably have been more complete; and if modification be admitted, all the forms of life would have been more equally modified, in accordance with the paramount importance of the relation of organism to organism.

I do not deny that there are many and grave difficulties in understanding how several of the inhabitants of the more remote islands, whether still retaining the same specific form or modified since their arrival, could have reached their present homes.

But the probability of many islands having existed as halting-places, of which not a wreck now remains, must not be overlooked.

I will here give a single instance of one of the cases of difficulty.

Almost all oceanic islands, even the most isolated and smallest, are inhabited by land-shells, generally by endemic species, but sometimes by species found elsewhere.

Land Shell
Land Shell


Dr. Aug. A. Gould has given several interesting cases in regard to the land-shells of the islands of the Pacific.

Augustus Addison Gould
Augustus Addison Gould

Pacific Ocean
Pacific Ocean


Now it is notorious that land-shells are very easily killed by salt; their eggs, at least such as I have tried, sink in sea-water and are killed by it.

Yet there must be, on my view, some unknown, but highly efficient means for their transportal.

Would the just-hatched young occasionally crawl on and adhere to the feet of birds roosting on the ground, and thus get transported? It occurred to me that land-shells, when hybernating and having a membranous diaphragm over the mouth of the shell, might be floated in chinks of drifted timber across moderately wide arms of the sea.

And I found that several species did in this state withstand uninjured an immersion in sea-water during seven days: one of these shells was the Helix pomatia, and after it had again hybernated I put it in sea-water for twenty days, and it perfectly recovered.

Helix Pomatia
Helix Pomatia


As this species has a thick calcareous operculum, I removed it, and when it had formed a new membranous one, I immersed it for fourteen days in sea-water, and it recovered and crawled away: but more experiments are wanted on this head.