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|OriginOfSpecies - 475 Rows|
|13 - Mutual Affinities of Organic Beings: Morphology: Embryology: Rudimentary Or||13-03 - Rules and difficulties in classification, explained on the theory of descent with modification||120||
We will suppose the letters A to L to represent allied genera, which lived during the Silurian epoch, and these have descended from a species which existed at an unknown anterior period.
Species of three of these genera (A, F, and I) have transmitted modified descendants to the present day, represented by the fifteen genera (a14 to z14) on the uppermost horizontal line.
Now all these modified descendants from a single species, are represented as related in blood or descent to the same degree; they may metaphorically be called cousins to the same millionth degree; yet they differ widely and in different degrees from each other.
The forms descended from A, now broken up into two or three families, constitute a distinct order from those descended from I, also broken up into two families.
Nor can the existing species, descended from A, be ranked in the same genus with the parent A; or those from I, with the parent I.
But the existing genus F14 may be supposed to have been but slightly modified; and it will then rank with the parent-genus F; just as some few still living organic beings belong to Silurian genera.
So that the amount or value of the differences between organic beings all related to each other in the same degree in blood, has come to be widely different.
Nevertheless their genealogical arrangement remains strictly true, not only at the present time, but at each successive period of descent.
All the modified descendants from A will have inherited something in common from their common parent, as will all the descendants from I; so will it be with each subordinate branch of descendants, at each successive period.
If, however, we choose to suppose that any of the descendants of A or of I have been so much modified as to have more or less completely lost traces of their parentage, in this case, their places in a natural classification will have been more or less completely lost, as sometimes seems to have occurred with existing organisms.
All the descendants of the genus F, along its whole line of descent, are supposed to have been but little modified, and they yet form a single genus.
But this genus, though much isolated, will still occupy its proper intermediate position; for F originally was intermediate in character between A and I, and the several genera descended from these two genera will have inherited to a certain extent their characters.
|14 - Recapitulation and Conclusion||14-03 - Causes of the general belief in the immutability of species||120||
I have now recapitulated the chief facts and considerations which have thoroughly convinced me that species have changed, and are still slowly changing by the preservation and accumulation of successive slight favourable variations.
Why, it may be asked, have all the most eminent living naturalists and geologists rejected this view of the mutability of species?
It cannot be asserted that organic beings in a state of nature are subject to no variation; it cannot be proved that the amount of variation in the course of long ages is a limited quantity; no clear distinction has been, or can be, drawn between species and well-marked varieties.
It cannot be maintained that species when intercrossed are invariably sterile, and varieties invariably fertile; or that sterility is a special endowment and sign of creation.
The belief that species were immutable productions was almost unavoidable as long as the history of the world was thought to be of short duration; and now that we have acquired some idea of the lapse of time, we are too apt to assume, without proof, that the geological record is so perfect that it would have afforded us plain evidence of the mutation of species, if they had undergone mutation.
But the chief cause of our natural unwillingness to admit that one species has given birth to other and distinct species, is that we are always slow in admitting any great change of which we do not see the intermediate steps.
The difficulty is the same as that felt by so many geologists, when Lyell first insisted that long lines of inland cliffs had been formed, and great valleys excavated, by the slow action of the coast-waves.
The mind cannot possibly grasp the full meaning of the term of a hundred million years; it cannot add up and perceive the full effects of many slight variations, accumulated during an almost infinite number of generations.
|06 - Difficutiles in Theory||06-12 - Organs not in all Cases Absolutely Perfect||130||
If we look at the sting of the bee, as having existed in a remote progenitor, as a boring and serrated instrument, like that in so many members of the same great order, and which has since been modified but not perfected for its present purpose, with the poison originally adapted for some other object, such as to produce galls, since intensified, we can perhaps understand how it is that the use of the sting should so often cause the insect's own death: for if on the whole the power of stinging be useful to the social community, it will fulfil all the requirements of natural selection, though it may cause the death of some few members.
If we admire the truly wonderful power of scent by which the males of many insects find their females, can we admire the production for this single purpose of thousands of drones, which are utterly useless to the community for any other purpose, and which are ultimately slaughtered by their industrious and sterile sisters?
It may be difficult, but we ought to admire the savage instinctive hatred of the queen-bee, which urges her to destroy the young queens, her daughters, as soon as they are born, or to perish herself in the combat; for undoubtedly this is for the good of the community; and maternal love or maternal hatred, though the latter fortunately is most rare, is all the same to the inexorable principle of natural selection.
If we admire the several ingenious contrivances, by which orchids and many other plants are fertilised through insect agency, can we consider as equally perfect the elaboration of dense clouds of pollen by our fir trees, so that a few granules may be wafted by chance on to the ovules?
|04 - Natural Selection||04-11 - Divergence of Character||130||
But I must here remark that I do not suppose that the process ever goes on so regularly as is represented in the diagram, though in itself made somewhat irregular, nor that it goes on continuously; it is far more probable that each form remains for long periods unaltered, and then again undergoes modification.
Nor do I suppose that the most divergent varieties are invariably preserved: a medium form may often long endure, and may or may not produce more than one modified descendant; for natural selection will always act according to the nature of the places which are either unoccupied or not perfectly occupied by other beings; and this will depend on infinitely complex relations.
But as a general rule, the more diversified in structure the descendants from any one species can be rendered, the more places they will be enabled to seize on, and the more their modified progeny will increase. In our diagram the line of succession is broken at regular intervals by small numbered letters marking the successive forms which have become sufficiently distinct to be recorded as varieties.
But these breaks are imaginary, and might have been inserted anywhere, after intervals long enough to allow the accumulation of a considerable amount of divergent variation.